The changing role of the CMO

Jodie Sangster

  • CEO, ADMA
Jodie Sangster has been the CEO of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) since 2011 and is also chairperson for the International Federation of Direct Marketing Associations (IFDMA). She has worked across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific for 14 years with a focus on data-driven marketing and privacy, and began her career as a lawyer in London specialising in data protection. Her resume includes senior positions at Acxiom Asia-Pacific and the Direct Marketing Association in New York.

Is the CMO’s job in the future still going to be about marketing? An interesting question. With the advent of big data and social media, the explosion in new marketing technology and the rapid uptake of content marketing and wearable technology (to name just a few trends), the job surely has to change.

Organisations are going to be hiring CMOs with a more diverse skillset than just the traditional marketing background. It’s happening in the USA and we can expect it here.

Moving into the future, the role of the CMO will become more like that of the CEO. Previously the CMO was intrinsically entwined with all aspects of marketing, but the role is becoming more like a conductor leading a variety of musicians as the skillset is becoming too broad for one person. It now involves other diverse areas like data, technology, IT, creative and PR – skills most CMOs don’t have.

So what does the CMO of the future need?

More leadership ability: CMOs are going to be sitting alongside the CEO at the table. It will be an asset to understand every facet of the business from operations to PR, articulate a clear vision for the company, and build highly skilled teams to deliver on the vision.

Good recruiting skills: As the CMO can’t possibly have all the skills needed for the future marketing landscape, it’s important to recognise and hire the talent one doesn’t have. Some new players to add to the team – the chief digital officer ensures everyone will be up on all things digital. For social media, the chief social officer is becoming a more common fixture in companies and for creativity blending technology, there are the new creative technologists.

More knowledgeable about data and technology: Understanding tech talk will be important for CMOs. Last year The Harvard Business Review suggested the data scientist was the sexist job of the 21st century. Making friends with the data analysts as well as the CIO and CDO, and being able to understand some of their terminology, will be key.

CMOs won’t have to know all the programs and every aspect of technology but enough so they can drive a marketing strategy underpinned by data and technology. Understanding technology is compulsory skillset that would never been have required from a traditional marketer.

Be more focused on creative: Despite the continuing buzz about data, it’s time for CMOs to return to creative. Experimenting with more with creativity in campaigns, trying out digital tools and cultivating a spirit of creativity in the teams will be important. A long-term strategy on creativity is key as ADMA found in recent research that it takes time to see and reap the business results from creative campaigns – often more than six months.

Understand content marketing better: Content marketing is going to be even bigger for companies next year so being able to articulate a clear content marketing strategy is a must for CMOs. This is a challenge facing many organisations including how to disseminate that content across an increasing variety of channels.

Be focused on the customer experience with every channel: Some customers want the bricks and mortar experience; others prefer to shop online. Some will want to connect with you on the phone and others via the post or social media. CMOs will want to focus on being more omnichannel-minded as all customer touch points need to be considered when developing an experience that accommodates every customer.

Tags: CMO/CIO relationship, marketing careers

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