CMO Responsibilities Need to Expand
At a time when customers have more power than ever, brand and customer experience have become inseparable. In its report, “Marketing Searches for New Footing,” Forrester Research outlines the key considerations for chief marketers to keep top of mind to succeed in this constantly changing landscape.
Marketers who understand the shifting landscape will be better prepared to capitalize on the opportunities it holds, according to the analyst firm.
Marketing leaders are challenged with driving growth while also delivering positive customer experiences, meaning they need to be “customer-obsessed,” focusing on customer-first strategies throughout campaigns as well as in every interaction and touchpoint, the report says.
Marketers also need to know that customers have plenty of choices for most of their purchases and prefer to buy from companies that align with their values, it says.
The increasing amount of time that customers spend alone on digital media means it’s more important than ever for companies to build strong relationships because many individuals feel less connected in the non-digital portions of their lives, according to Forrester.
“Savvy marketers will look to convey the emotional rewards—particularly joy and hope—of engaging with their brand,” Forrester says.
Forrester recommends that companies create a vision for customer obsession by combining insights from marketing, customer service, sales, and other customer-facing roles and interacting with customers directly to fill in gaps. Though marketers have spent years attempting to cater to individual preferences, in 2020 they will find increasing opportunities in reaching prospects based on the context of their identities (e.g., fantasy sports enthusiasts, new parents, runners, etc.).
“Touting socially responsible principles to vie for dollars and loyalty is not a new practice for brands, but it will intensify in 2020,” Forrester says in the report. “More than half (54 percent) of U.S. online adults say it’s important that a company operate on a socially responsible level, while more than two-thirds say that a company’s social responsibility reputation has at least some influence on their purchasing with that company.”
Yet any messages about social responsibility need to be authentic, because savvy consumers can quickly recognize insincerity, says Forrester, pointing to Gillette’s “toxic masculinity” campaign of 2019 as a prime example of an inauthentic, failed effort.
Forrester cites the growing number of companies seeking Certified B Corporation status. Certified B Corporations are verified by B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies companies based on how they benefit employees, customers, suppliers, the local community, and the environment.
Marketing, brand, customer experience, and product teams must align on shared values and how to express them, according to Forrester, which recommends that marketing executives establish a span of control that involves expanding the chief marketing officer’s role to encompass traditionally disparate functions.
However, Keith Johnston, a Forrester vice president and research director, predicted in an earlier blog post that fewer than 10 percent of CMOs would broaden their roles to this degree.
Some companies have responded to the shifting responsibilities for marketing by eliminating the CMO function entirely, instead going to a chief growth officer or a chief customer officer who assumes numerous responsibilities, including those of a traditional CMO, according to Forrester.
“Forward-thinking marketing leaders will rally stakeholders around customer obsession and weave this into brand building,” Forrester says.
Forrester further recommends that CMOs deliver consistent brand experiences by taking inventory of both physical and digital interactions and identifying inconsistencies or missing pieces that keep the company from speaking with a single voice.
The CMO (or someone with those responsibilities, if the position has been eliminated) needs to ensure that brand promise is consistently conveyed through all channels and touchpoints.
“Taking inventory of physical and digital brand experiences and identifying inconsistencies or missing pieces that keep the company speaking with a single brand voice across customer interactions can help establish cohesion,” Forrester explains.
Forrester also recommends that marketers recognize their overall role in attracting and retaining employees. Employees shape the brand’s identity, and brand values are paramount in attracting and retaining talent. As such, marketing leaders will be essential in helping organizations hire and keep top talent, the firm concludes.