Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
The rise of digital commerce and consumer engagement is handing the power to control and command revenue to the CMO role.
That’s the view of Malaysian Airlines’ chief marketing officer (CMO), Dean Dacko, who recently caught up with CMO Australia to discuss the changing nature of customer engagement, how marketing chiefs ensure their organisations keep on top of it, and why infrastructure and technology are needed to fuel these efforts.
For Dacko, marketing’s relevance as a strategic contributor to the business was historically limited because CMOs couldn’t directly correlate their efforts to the bottom line.
“In the past, marketing was always seen as witchcraft. It was a very intangible thing you spent a whole lot of money doing, but no one really understood or measured it,” he said.
“Your level of importance [as a CMO] inside the management team, and your ability to get investment and buy in from your colleagues, particularly the CFO and CEO, was challenged by your ability to really be the key driver of revenue generation.”
Thanks to ecommerce, the ability to command and control how you make money as an organisation is changing the dynamics in the boardroom and with it, the importance of marketing as a discipline.
“The ecommerce platforms used to be controlled or otherwise delivered by the IT team – they built it and were responsible for it, then it was the responsibility of sales or finance as to how that ecommerce platform evolved,” Dacko said.
“Now it’s evolved towards marketing because by nature, it’s about understanding the relationship with the customer.
“How you attract, convert and ultimately capture the revenue derived by that [customer] relationship is all a function of marketing. All the different levers you employ and communications you use that drive those consumers into your own infrastructure to make that purchase, even if that infrastructure is managed by a third party, it’s much more due to the relationship that marketing controls now.”
As a result, power in the boardroom is shifting away from IT, sales and finance to marketing. “You can now start to show there’s a linear line between the customer and the bottom line,” Dacko added.
While individual verticals experience distinct consumer characteristics, Dacko claimed all CMOs need to come to grips with the reality of a rapidly evolving consumer dynamic.
“Consumers are constantly adopting new ways and means of determining how they’re going to make their purchase decision and ultimately, the type of relationship they have with a brand or product,” he continued.
“If you’re not engaged in understanding how you’re going to build the infrastructure, invest in the right personnel and technology, along with vision and strategy to meet the needs of that consumer, you will be left behind. And you’ll probably have a competitor that’s always one step ahead of you, more capable than you are of doing this.”
“No matter how big you are, how broad and deep you go and how much strength you believe you have as a brand, the reality today is that a consumer’s ability to change and select someone else, whether they be around the corner or around the world, is at their fingertips,” Dacko said.
“They hold all the power and you need to be investing in that kind of relationship and meet their needs in real time.”
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