Marketing’s Role Changes to Growth Creator
While some marketers have clung to a focus on short-term gains and others have embraced a more creative and engaging strategy fueled by storytelling and branding, a new and more successful type of marketer is adopting a long-term-growth mind-set, the CMO Council found in a recent research initiative.
The research, conducted with Deloitte, found that marketers are increasingly being asked to take on a new role as “growth driver” and “revenue creator.”
This new role takes marketing far beyond its traditional focus on demand generation and short-term campaigns or storytelling and branding, with the CMO Council noting that such strategies “can only go so far.”
Conversely, this new “budding cohort” of marketers with a long-term-growth mind-set are taking responsibility for driving profitability. Key aspects of driving growth include architecting the customer experience and acting as revenue science practitioners.
In the study, a full 18 percent of respondents indicated they were “extremely poised to succeed” as the growth leaders their organizations expect them to be. These leaders prioritize, focus, and collaborate differently, it found.
Based on interviews with these marketing leaders, from companies like Hershey’s, Lyft, and Aston Martin, the CMO Council crafted “The Growth Driver’s Playbook,” highlighting five key plays that all growth-driving CMOs should adopt. The five plays are as follows:
- Define the difference between gains and growth.Gains, the report says, are short-term “pops” of engagement and transaction resulting from efforts like individual sales enablement programs and demand generation campaigns. Growth, on the other hand, is “long-term, sustainable expansion delivered through corporate-wide, revenue-focused strategies and decisions.”
Growth leaders commonly seek to shape the landscape ahead by identifying new product strategies, global market expansion, merger and acquisition viability, and other opportunities. They also seek to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency to better manage costs and maximize profitability. For the growth CMO, using data to gain a deep understanding of both customer and market can be critical. Storytelling remains an important vehicle, but customer insights can determine the plot.
- Speak the language of the business.Generally, marketers should change the language in which they report results, shifting from limited conversations about campaign metrics to broader discussions about revenue, market share, customer lifetime value, and margin. This involves establishing and embracing business metrics—not just marketing metrics—to gain more solid footing with senior leadership. Many growth leaders also advocate a one-team approach, in which the business speaks, behaves, and engages with customers as one entity, not as a multitude of loosely connected parts.
- Connect across functional silos.The report identifies silos as “a common constraint to success…blocking everything from the development of an organization-wide customer experience strategy to the integration of comprehensive customer data.” Rather than simply trying to remove silo walls, growth leaders actively build connections, treating each group as a center of functional and tactical excellence that can be integrated and aligned into an overarching customer strategy.
- Mobilize support for the growth agenda.Seventy-one percent of all marketers see top executives as their primary allies, followed by the heads of sales (56 percent) and line of business leadership (38 percent). However, growth drivers also see the board of directors as a key ally. Many growth-driving CMOs also rally corporate leadership around the customer.
- Think like a CEO and prepare for the role.In the past, the career path for marketers typically started in digital, communications, or branding and ended at the CMO role. Today, as CMOs play the part of customer champion, experience strategist, and growth leader, marketers can move all the way up to the CEO role. McDonald’s, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Campbell Soup, Mercedes Benz, Gilt Group, Royal Dutch Shell, and H&R Block have all brought on CMOs to fill the CEO post. The hallmark of these executives is that while they were passionate about their brands, they led by understanding and embracing the business as a whole.
Liz Miller, senior vice president of the CMO Council and author of the report, says it’s “quite hard to give any quantifiable results a CMO can expect,” but added that “CMOs can absolutely expect to keep their jobs when they fully embrace and follow through on the new CEO and board expectation that the CMO is a growth driver.”
As evidence, she pointed out that in the research, 76 percent of CMOs believe their jobs will be on the line if customer experience strategies fail to deliver growth. “There is a 100 percent likelihood that if the CMO fails to deliver growth, they will not be a CMO soon,” she says.
“This is the next step in the evolution of the role. This is not a time for CMOs to luxuriate in advertising or branding for brand’s sake,” Miller argues. “This is the time for data-driven, digitally savvy, and customer-obsessed engagement leaders to develop and lead growth strategies.”