McKinsey details 5 ways CMOs can spearhead business leadership

CMOs are the next natural CEOs within their organisations thanks to digital disruption and customer centricity

CMOs are the next natural CEOs within their organisations, according to McKinsey and Co.

Speaking at the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney, McKinsey & Co partner, Milosh Milisavljevic, claimed the reasons for why marketers should be the next leaders of businesses are stacking up. The biggest of these, unsurprisingly, is that organisations need to be much more customer and market-oriented to cope with digital disruption.

“The landscape in which organisations operate is much more demanding and fast moving, and partnerships are becoming more important,” he commented. “Who better to lead the organisation through these times than the CMO?”

Milisavljevic pointed out marketing is shifting from a standalone unit to being integrated across the whole business in multiple teams, initiatives, strategies and execution.

“That cuts across being the leader of an integrated customer strategy, as well as being able to coordinate touchpoints across the organisation and deliver consistent insights and data from those,” he said. “The other internal change is moving from a more promotional style to being engagement-led.”

From an external perspective, organisations are also getting more granular in the way they think of, identify and treat customers, Milisavljevic said.

“We’re thinking about the micro segments across channels and products, and what a customer’s needs are as they go through their own customer journey,” he said. “It’s also about looking at trigger points and events that act as turning points in the customer experience, then responding to those in a real-time and relevant way.

“Lastly, it’s a deep level of personalisation across all touchpoints.”

Underpinning these capabilities is a bedrock of data analytics, which is getting increasingly pervasive, Milisavljevic continued. He pointed to recent McKinsey & Co research, which found companies using analytics extensively outperformed their peers on profit, sales, growth and ROI.

“The other thing with analytics is it’s getting much more detailed,” he said. “You have a much more ready understanding of how customers move through digital touchpoints, what the drivers of the experiences are and what the final experiences are for each customer.”

Related: 8 ways to get on top of data analytics

Milisavljevic delivered five key imperatives CMOs should focus on to cement their leadership and business position. The first is thinking about the customer, not customers, and focusing on the individual in terms of experience and interactions.

His second piece of advice was to “fix everything”.

“This is about not thinking what you have to optimise in terms of a trade-off,” Milisavljevic said. “In this new world of engagement, teams need to simultaneously fix everything at the same time…There are no more excuses for not fixing it all in a sustainable way.”

The third imperative was to “compete with your bricks”. Milisavljevic argued the role of the multi-channel experience often continues to be overlooked.

“In the world of digital disruptions, being able to use the strategic advantage of a physical presence and channel is important,” he said.

Maximising marketing spend is another important focus, and Milisavljevic advised CMOs to learn the “digital dollars” game.

“This is going to the heart of the changes to the marketing channels mix, how we think about digital, and how that translates into this more pervasive role of marketing,” he said. “Secondly, it’s about understanding clearly how your digital channels are performing; lastly, it’s about looking at whether you’re spending too much for what you’re getting.

“These are all in response to the paradigm shifts we’re seeing from a few channels to multi-channel; a sales funnel to a buying loop; customer details to big data; and perceived benefits to actual benefits. This is also about the fact that marketing budgets aren’t going up and you need to do more with less.”

The fifth imperative is for CMOs to buddy up with their CEO. To do this, Milisavljevic outlined five musts for the CMO role:

  • Sitting at the executive table;
  • Becoming the bonding agent that connects the organisation. This is particularly critical for cross-channel and cross-functional experience. “The CMO is one of, if not the logical role for leading that engagement,” he said;
  • Ensuring the CEO becomes an active marketer and connects to the customer;
  • Developing and sticking to a marketing blueprint. “There are a lot of organisations who have a detailed marketing plan of what marketing is going to do,” he said. “A lot less have a plan for marketing itself. That is a real indicator of how marketing is supporting the organisation, its strategic priorities, and how CMOs support the specific outcomes of other parts of the organisation”;
  • Expand marketing’s influence across the organisation. Be increasingly involved in driving and have a meaningful role across all parts of the business.

Related: Marketers must transform their story to meet the new customer paradigm: McKinsey

Photo courtesy of The Corner Studio

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