One of the insightful things that has been said to me recently came from an independent consultant working at a major FMCG client. He said: “The problem here is that we have some people who are world-class at marketing to the masses, but they haven’t got a clue about how to speak to a customer.”
In the second of CMO’s new series looking into what three marketing and digital chiefs think about a key topic or trend influencing their business performance, we ask the former CMO of Commonwealth Bank and highly experienced marketer, Andy Lark to answer the following question:
Should CMOs own digital strategy and delivery?
Andy Lark, former CMO
Digital as a business is not a marketing function - although based on the background of the CMO, it might make sense to have them run it. Digital marketing, however, both for digital and physical products or channels, is a marketing function. Today, the rise of importance of digital channels - and the emergence of digital as the business - requires most organisations build a digital capability, unified, under a chief digital officer (CDO).
Digital platforms and technology should be delivered through the IT capability, but the overall digital business and products shouldn't be. Remember: The CDO role is only part technology; it is also supply chain, pricing, service delivery, product, merchandising and more. Digital requires focus, and committed leadership will drive its success. Non committed or dispersed leadership will result in digital islands of efficiency.
Ultimately, CEOs have the responsibility for digital delivery and always have. The challenge today is a large number of marketers don’t report to CEOs, nor do CDOs. As a result, neither are a priority. They are run and optimised as part of something else, such as operations or business channel management for instance.
So long as they continue to be optimised as part of something else, you will have sub-optimal solutions that don't recognise digital as how the customer engages. There is nothing more important than meeting and serving the customer digitally.
Most CMOs have a great understanding of the role of digital in customer relationships and marketing communications and are working bloody hard to raise awareness of the importance of digital.
CMOs must be the change agent they want to exist in their business. In short, be digital. Show people the power of digital; arm your teams with leading-edge devices and technology. Then invest at the edge, and invest in niche ideas with potential to scale. Encourage your digital natives to experiment and ideate.
More on Andy Lark