Deloitte positions CMOs as the ultimate organisation connectors

New research claims the role of marketing is to be less brand protector and more brand connector, and also lays bare gaps in technology and accountability

Brands are too important to just be the sole responsibility of marketing teams and CMOs should shift from brand protectors to promoters if they’re to truly take their place as the great corporate connector.

The shift was one of several highlight findings made on the reinvention of the CMO role in a new paper produced by Deloitte and released this week. As the paper put it, anyone who touches product, experience, customer, channels and strategy has a brand responsibility in organisations today.

“The term ‘brand custodian’ is dangerous – marketers now need to help the organisation understand how the brand operates in all domains, their responsibility in delivering that, and how it is collectively measured,” the report authors stated.

Instead, over time, the report recommended brand management become a string to the HR function’s bow, in order to shift the emphasis onto how the entire organisation acts and behaves. “This will be particularly important as brands move from product and service to experiences,” the report stated.

In fact, Deloitte’s paper makes the point that the most important function the modern marketer will play within the organisation is as the connector of all aspects of business, from product and service to technology. Within this, Deloitte identified five key roles: Growth driver; customer champion; innovation catalyst chief storyteller; and capability builder.

“Marketers are best placed to unite the whole business behind the customer and brand,” the report stated. “They have the skills and the lexicon to be the great connector.”

Among the other major findings was recognition that the future marketing function must be built around technology, not humans.  

Yet Deloitte also makes plain the technology and skills gaps still existing across Australian marketing functions. Most marketers interviewed, for example, agreed there was a lot more to be delivered from their technology investments, and many were suffering from a forced demarcation between marketing and digital. Better technology utilisation requires marketing models and capability to change, and many simply aren’t there yet, according to the report.

“Of all of the marketers we interviewed, all believed there was a lot more that could be delivered from their technology,” report author and Deloitte paper, David Phillips, said. “For marketing to take its place as the accountable strategic function it needs to be, we need to structure marketing functions for machines first and foremost and let the humans complete what the machines can’t.

“Leadership, growth, collaboration and connection, creativity, and deep qualitative insight generation – this is where marketers should be focusing their time and letting marketing machine learning or cognitive marketing do the rest.”  

In addition, marketing accountability came up as a key issue, with more than half of CMOs unable to compare measures across channels. Most also lack the advanced data measures, machine learning and data sets to improve the way marketing proves its worth.

What’s more, while the language of test-and-learn was in the vocabulary of marketers, Deloitte said little formalised or systematised processes and outcomes were in place across Australian marketing teams today to gain true benefit from this approach.

Deloitte also encouraged today’s CMOs to embrace more risky behaviour, noting that low risk equals low reward. With consumers taking in just four of the more than 4000 messages they’re exposed to by brands, it’s clear building better trust and promoting creativity and ideas with impact is a must for cut-through.

“Anything that’s not exceptional is not noticed. Very little of the work that is being created by marketers is exceptional,” the authors claimed. “It is impossible to stand out and make an impact while being completely safe – the two ideas are incongruent and marketers are faced with a catch 22: Be impactful but take no risks. This is amplified by the short termism driving executive decisions in Australia.”

The paper was produced by Phillips in partnership with fellow partner, Adrian Mills, and based on interviews with more than 20 marketing leaders locally, with further insights drawn from US and industry research.

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