5 Australian CEOs reveal what they want from CMOs

How do business leaders really perceive the role of marketing in their organisation today, and what skills do they want their marketing leaders to have? We ask 5 Australian CEOs

Marketing may be rising up the executive ranks, but according to the 2013 <i>Marketing Performance Management Survey from ITSMA and VisionEdge</i>, less than 10 per cent of top executives are relying on marketing input when making significant business decisions or setting strategy.

So what do CEOs and business leaders want exactly from their CMO? And how do they really perceive the input marketing can provide at present?

To find out, we ask five of Australia’s leading business executives to share their views on the importance of marketing as a function in their organisation, and how they define the role of the modern CMO.

Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific chief operating officer

For McGrath, marketing as a function has become more important than ever if the hotel group is to distinguish its brands in a cluttered environment.

“Marketers are required to find creative ways to cut through with diminishing budgets, but we also measure the impact of marketing – particularly in the digital space – on our top-line performance,” he said. “We have invested in a digital commerce team, which complements the marketing and communications team and ensures we have robust tools and expertise to maximise returns from our primary digital channel, Accorhotels.com.”

The role of the CMO is arguably one of the most critical and broad roles in any organisation, McGrath claims.

“It requires natural intuition and gut feel about behavioural movements in wider society,” he said. “The CMO needs to be able to take and interpret all the information available and shape this into strategic pillars. These guide and verify product design and customer experience - and then the real heavy lifting begins.

“The CMO will live and die by communications being grounded in consumer insights. The final skill is clever management of lean resources to maximise brand exposure and engagement.”

Georg Ruebensal, Expedia managing director

As a CEO, Ruebensal says his perception of marketing both has and hasn’t changed in recent years.

“The importance of marketing hasn’t changed at all, but yes, our understanding of it certainly is continuously evolving,” he comments. “Gone are the days where we looked at brand, database and search engine marketing only.

“The business opportunities - and risks - have increased considerably, with new players and concepts that didn’t exist a few years ago. Then there’s the ever-evolving social landscape, re-targeting and custom audiences to address, plus a new breed of meta and affiliate travel sites. All of these provide new opportunities to position our products and services.”

Today’s CMO must integrate and work with teams across all functions to ensure the brand message reflects Expedia’s products and lives across all the touchpoints; from advertising, customer acquisition and retail to the offline and post-trip experience, Ruebensal says.

“Equally important is identifying and capitalising on new trends and marketing opportunities, which almost always these days are data driven,” he adds.

Expedia’s MD: How we’re rallying around the customer

Cameron Kerr, Taronga Zoo chief executive officer

Read more: Vodafone appoints new CMO, customer services director

For Kerr, a former marketing leader himself, one of the biggest areas of focus he believes marketers now need to have is to keeping abreast of where technology is taking communication. The relationship with customers and stakeholders is also key.

“It’s not terribly new, but the methods, ways of doing that and what’s relevant now is different to two years ago,” he says. “The relevance of Facebook now, compared to in three years’ time, is something we need to seriously think about, as well as the changes in smartphone. How we interface with customers and stakeholders is going to change consistently and at a rapid rate.”

CMO to CEO: Cameron Kerr shares how he’s taming modern leadership

Today’s marketing leaders also need to make sure they have the right people in the roles and partners on the edge of that, Kerr says.

“We can’t get too far ahead or behind. If you’re too far ahead, you’re not communicating efficiently either,” he continues.

“The other key skills for senior marketers is emotional intelligence, leadership, and sticking to a good and strategic discipline. That focus hasn’t changed, but it’s so easy to get more distracted now.”

Read more: Qantas to announce McColl replacement shortly

Paul Langston, LivingSocial CEO

As a CEO, Langston’s view on marketing has also changed compared with a few years ago. LivingSocial is a group buying company in Australia and New Zealand offering hyper-local deals.

“When daily deals first exploded, we rapidly established ourselves across the globe predominantly through eDMs and social media,” he explains.

“Now we have a wealth of data informing us on what works and what doesn’t, so we can market effectively within existing channels and continually search for innovative new ones.”

The key attributes required by today’s CMO is to be heavily integrated with all aspects of the business, “maintaining strong interdepartmental communication while applying market trends and internal data to ensure our sales teams are fully equipped”, Langston says.

“One thing I’ve quickly learned transitioning from CFO to CEO is just how much talent there is in this company that should be tapped into,” he comments. “The CMO must also completely ‘get’ our target demographic of young, professional and educated women, and understand why they buy the products and experiences they do. I’m very confident in their abilities to achieve this.

Vaughn Richtor, ING Direct Australia CEO

CEO of ING Direct Australia, Vaughn Richtor, says CMOs should spend their time looking for true consumer insights.

“For me, its common sense,” he says. “I value a CMO who can cut through the noise and tell me what really makes a difference to the customer.”

Richtor says insight might be in the data, or come through conversations and listening. In other instances it could come through looking beyond what they see and hear in order to truly understand customer wishes and motivations.

“The technology which allows us to better understand our customers and their behaviours is giving us the opportunity to gain true insight, which is invaluable,” he says. “How that information is used is the difference between good and great marketing.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Signup to CMO’s email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Jacqueline Burns

Founder, Market Expertise

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in