The evolving role of the CMO

Tim Tez

They say that “change is the only constant”. It’s fair to say that in the 20 years I’ve been in marketing positions, the role of the CMO has changed completely.

During this time, I have seen marketers move beyond the traditional marketing tactics and become adept at digital, data analytics, customer segmentation, product development, pricing and innovation.

Technology and the role of data have been game changers for marketers and undoubtedly transformed much of the way we work and how we engage with our customers.

While it has always been important to work closely with the IT team, today IT and digital is becoming part of the marketing function rather than a separate team. Accessing data to pinpoint opportunities means organisations can engage customers in an impactful way that’s relevant and authentic. This is especially important in highly regulated industries such as life insurance where you don’t have the opportunity to connect and engage with customers on a daily basis.

As the role of marketing has changed, one of the CMO’s most important responsibilities is bringing the organisation on the journey to evolve the customer experience. Here’s how we’ve gone about this at MetLife:

  • First and foremost is nurturing the right culture. It is important to create work environments that encourage people to be dynamic, innovate and to champion the customer internally – from the call centre staff to the CEO. This is of course easier said than done but at MetLife we have worked hard to build the right environment for people to pursue their ideas. This is not just digitising existing products and processes but inspiring others to re-imagine what the outcome might be, and as a CMO it’s my responsibility to nurture this at MetLife.
  • This leads me to another important responsibility that will continue to be more and more critical for CMOs - recruitment. Recruitment into B2B marketing can be difficult. The life insurance industry can sometimes struggle to attract the top marketing talent. However, if you have the right strategy, the right culture and the right focus on developing individuals then you can be an attractive destination. Our people today are much like our customers in that their world view has been shaped by the tech savvy era they have grown up in. This means they are less patient for career progression and as a result it’s really important that as leaders we genuinely care about their personal development and not just pay lip service.
  • Finally, a leadership commitment to supporting new ways of doing things is critical. Many of our organisations have more on our ‘to-do’ list than we can actually deliver so if we, as leaders, don’t show commitment to driving change and innovation we will never actually make the changes we need to. At MetLife, we have completely changed the way we develop products and have invested in training all our product teams in an effort to put the customer at the centre of our product development process. In addition, we have created a hub to fund innovative start up ideas that we can test to see if they work and, if not, allows them to fail cheaply and quickly.

While our environment has changed the underlying attributes and principles of what makes a stand-out CMO remain the same – we just have a few extra hats to wear in the process.

Tags: marketing careers, CMO role, marketing strategy

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