Why today's CMO will be tomorrow's CEO

Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is the CTO of ion interactive, a marketing software company specialising in post-click experiences. He is also the author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, where he covers the intersection of marketing, technology and management.

It's not easy being a CMO today. The scope of your job is larger than ever.

Your biggest increase in responsibility is the definition and delivery of customer experiences. It started with responsibility for marketing-oriented digital touchpoints, such as your website, your mobile apps, and your social media presence – no small mission unto itself.

But your responsibility has grown even more because in search engines and social media, most of what is associated with your brand is what other people have to say about you. Your best bet for assuring your brand is represented well is to make sure that people have great experiences with your company, at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This means you're now working closer with product development, operations and customer service to authentically live up to your brand promise.

You're also working more closely with sales. Part of this is because prospects are spending much more time engaging in their own pre-sales education – the domain of digital marketing – before connecting with salespeople. But in addition, once they're ready to talk with someone in sales, they expect greater continuity with their online experiences. This raises the bar on sales enablement and marketing/sales alignment.

Of course, you're partnering with IT on how to leverage technology to deliver all these great experiences. You're up to your eyeballs in data and software, and you're becoming increasingly experienced with the dynamics of technology strategy and operations. You're developing your own technical staff, from data scientists to marketing technologists, and learning how to manage them effectively.

As part of the new accountability of marketing, and the evolutionary shift from marketing as merely an expense to marketing as an attributable source of revenue, you're working more closely with the CFO and the finance side of the house. Also, since your budget is growing, now incorporating more capital investments, and you have a more direct stake in investments made by other departments, your proficiency with the language and logic of corporate finance is steadily increasing.

Is there any department in the organisation you're not collaborating with these days?

At the same time, your traditional responsibilities within marketing are still as important as ever – arguably more so.

Marketing communications must fight to be heard over a cacophony of content. To stand out, your storytelling must be far more compelling than the schlock brochures we could get away with 10 years ago. You are pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Thanks to social media, public relations has outgrown fluffy press releases and canned analyst briefings to become the art of genuinely relating to the public, especially around difficult moments that can erupt on Twitter within a flash (#holycrap). You are becoming adept at operating under the pressures of real-time marketing.

Your own department is a microcosm of disruptive innovation. You're reorganising to deal with converged media. You're restructuring for a new generation of marketing operations and marketing technology capabilities. You're embracing data-driven decision making, without losing sight of the value of experience, intuition and judgment. You're encouraging widespread use of controlled experiments to pursue bolder ideas with less risk. You're adopting new management approaches such as agile and lean.

You're practicing the diplomatic role of change agent every day.

And beyond the walls of your company, you're now managing the intersection of a plethora of external providers: Ad agencies, digital agencies, specialist agencies, marketing service providers, design firms, management consultants, systems integrators, PR firms, research analysts, and a rouges gallery of freelance experts, contributors, and influencers. Your contract negotiation skills are well-honed.

As I said, it's not easy being a CMO today. But can you imagine any better preparation for being CEO?

You will be experienced collaborating with nearly every function in the company. You will understand not just marketing but also strategy, finance, IT, sales and operations. You will be accomplished at coordinating and balancing these different interests. You will have a successful track record of championing innovation. And you will have brought all these elements together under the banner of delivering amazing customer experiences in a demanding world.

Your experience, knowledge and sheer stamina will be invaluable.

And that's why today's CMO will be tomorrow's CEO.

Tags: data-driven marketing, marketing careers

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2020

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

More Videos

It's an interesting direction, and fair play that they've backed what their service differentiator in the market is. It's a bit clunky bi...

Jeff

Versa launches bot-activated website

Read more

Algorithms that can make sense of unstructured data is the future. It's great to see experts in the field getting together to discuss AI.

Sumit Takim

In pictures: Harnessing AI for customer engagement - CMO roundtable Melbourne

Read more

Real digital transformation requires reshaping the way the business create value for customers. Achieving this requires that organization...

ravi H

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

thanks

Lillian Juliet

How Winedirect has lifted customer recency, frequency and value with a digital overhaul

Read more

Having an effective Point of Sale system implemented in your retail store can streamline the transactions and data management activities....

Sheetal Kamble

​Jurlique’s move to mobile POS set to enhance customer experience

Read more

Blog Posts

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

You’re doing it wrong: Emotion doesn’t mean emotional

If you’ve been around advertising long enough, you’ve probably seen (or written) a slide which says: “They won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” But it’s wrong. Our understanding of how emotion is used in advertising has been ill informed and poorly applied.

Zac Martin

Senior planner, Ogilvy Melbourne

Why does brand execution often kill creativity?

The launch of a new brand, or indeed a rebrand, is a transformation to be greeted with fanfare. So why is it that once the brand has launched, the brand execution phase can also be the moment at which you kill its creativity?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in