“If there was ever a time for CMOs to stand up and educate those within their enterprise about how the role of CMO intertwines with…business outcomes, this is it.”
The plight of Chief Marketing Officers becomes more precarious every year. Even before COVID-19, several studies show that the average CMO tenure declines every year and is now approximately 31-43 months, depending on which source you cite. Yet, at the same time, boards and CEOs expect more from their senior marketing leaders than almost any other executives, especially now that digital shopping trends are accelerating and enhancing the customer journey is one of 2021’s biggest priorities.
That leaves CMOs with an impossible question to ask: how do I do all that the business expects from marketing with fewer resources and less time?
Budgets and lead times are both decreasing. Forrester expects marketing budgets to be slashed up to 70% of its 2019 total. At the same time, last year’s dramatic shift to eCommerce completely upended traditional marketing, customer journeys, and the future of shopping. Circumstances forced senior marketing leaders to act quicker than usual while also reducing their headcount. The economy has certainly improved substantially since the worst days of 2020, but many CMOs still feel like they are redlining and aren’t sure when or if they can restaff their teams.
Now that we’ve painted a rosy picture of the future CMOs can look forward to, let’s talk about how marketing leaders can get everything done with less money and shorter lead times.
ABA-Always Be Agile
It’s not quite as catchy as David Mamet’s original saying, but it rings true nonetheless. Because CMOs have such a short window to make often dramatic organizational transformations, they can’t get bogged down in bureaucratic thinking. Senior marketing leaders need to rely on their team to quickly implement new digital customer journeys, eCommerce solutions, and marketing technology platforms that drive efficiencies. Only when leaders empower their teams to make independent decisions can marketing move with the speed that digital transformation requires.
One McKinsey blog tells the story of how a European retailer built and scaled an entire eCommerce business in 13 weeks. The company was successful in large part because it set expectations for each teammate and gave them autonomy to get things done.
In what the consulting firm called a move to “assign ownership, not tasks,” the retailer’s “management…stepped back, giving teams the responsibility and flexibility to solve every unplanned issue…and pushed them to be creative with solutions.” By clearly defining expectations then giving the right people freedom to do their job, the European company salvaged a challenging year using a brand new eCommerce strategy. Digital marketing is rapidly evolving, and new revenue paths are opening every day. To keep up, CMOs will need to maintain an agile environment where key contributors and leaders know they can move quickly to capitalize on emerging trends.
Build a More Efficient Tech Stack
Even though empowering your team to succeed is essential in the age of agility, the fact remains that most CMOs still have fewer employees to carry out more digital marketing, customer journey revamps, and revenue-driving initiatives. Forward thinking leaders should embrace this–there is ample data that lean, flat organizations perform better across all industries. Technology and data still need to fill the gap between small staff and outsized expectations. But technology is a double-edged sword, with many software platforms requiring more human power to implement well.
When evaluating your marketing technology solutions and filling any necessary holes, look for the technologies that are quick to onboard and require no- or low-code solutions. The goal is to streamline data into better marketing that tackles the challenges of the post-Covid eCommerce acceleration.
Since 2020 accelerated eCommerce and online customer expectations, marketing leaders are implementing technology that drives revenue and builds a better customer journey. For mobile and email marketing, that means personalization that leverages every existing customer data point. Mobile and email campaigns will matter even more in the digital future, and marketers need simple ways to synthesize data points across their martech stack to build striking, engaging email and mobile campaigns.
The new consumer will rely far less on physical stores, leaving brands with mostly digital interactions. Technology that can seamlessly market to online customers while decreasing headcount is a way for CMOs to have their cake and eat it too.
Communicate Marketing’s Central Role
In a recent Forbes article, Daniel Newman of CMO Network wrote, “if there was ever a time for CMOs to stand up and educate those within their enterprise about how the role of CMO intertwines with…business outcomes, this is it.” While marketing is taking the lead on many, if not most, transformational business initiatives, marketing leaders cannot work in a vacuum. Everyone from product to sales to finance has a responsibility to step up, and it’s up to CMOs to communicate needs and expectations.
Take, for example, a mobile app. The future of eCommerce is largely dependent on mobile shopping, and in 2020 more than 66% of mobile transactions occurred in-app. Brands need not only a mobile application but sophisticated digital marketing and mobile personalization. Yet, agility is often marred by departmental ownership disputes, unclear communications, and competing objectives. It’s up to CMOs to step in when that occurs and break down any blockers standing in the way of meeting tight deadlines and revenue goals.
Because they’re being asked to do more, the responsibility to pull in help from across the business is, fairly or not, squarely on the shoulders of CMOs. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire organization to transform business objectives overnight. While marketing leaders will quarterback those initiatives, it doesn’t mean they have to go it alone, but they need to push for help.
The Time for Change is Now
The next 18 months will be a challenge for even the most forward-thinking CMOs, and the time to start implementing change is now. Even though lead times are shorter and staff diminished, the right technology, communication, and agility-minded focus can ensure that marketing leaders can achieve even the loftiest goals.
This article originally appeared on MovableInk.