Why Brands Need a Holistic Marketing Approach

Marketing as we know it is changing, and according to the 2011 IBM Global CMO Survey, in five years from now you will not recognize this profession. The role of CMO is quickly evolving from that of a senior level leader who oversees marketing efforts to a strategic business advisor. According to a recent AdAge article entitled “How Do You Become a ‘Super CMO?'”, the role of a CMO should not just focus on marketing, but rather on how to develop a strategic vision for overall company growth. The author writes:

CMOs have taken on the responsibility for the conversion of a business asset — a company’s marketing capacity — into top-and bottom-line results. Like a CEO, they are setting a vision for marketing to generate short-and long-term value through the effective deployment of new and existing resources. Hence the term “Marketing’s CEO.”

In 2011, IBM interviewed 1,734 CMOs spanning 19 industries and 64 countries for their above-referenced survey. Below is a short video summarizing the findings:

Five of the key learnings identified in the follow-up study entitled “The Changing Role of the CMO” (published by Harvard Business Review) include:

  1. CMOs feel unprepared to handle evolving technologies, changing demographics, and large amounts of data: “Every day we create so much data, that 90% of the world’s data today has been created in the past two years alone.” And,“In India, the middle class is expected to soar from 5% to 40% of the population in the next 20 years, while baby boomers in the United States are aging as the Hispanic population grows.”
  2. Marketers want to deliver more value to customers and to their organizations: “Marketers are being forced to think about and deliver value in entirely new ways.”
  3. Effective CMOs actively cultivate corporate character and not just brand reputation: “Company behaviors are more transparent than ever to customers. Authenticity can only come from within the organization.”
  4. Social media has dramatically changed marketing: “Although 56% of CMOs view social media as a key engagement channel, they still struggle with capturing valuable customer insight from this emerging, global, real-time conversation.”
  5. Given the proliferation of customer data, marketing teams must have analytical skills: ““Customer data is a gift, if you can unwrap it properly. Customer data allows us to move from peddling to customer intimacy.”

CMOs worldwide agree that the above-referenced changes reflect a permanent shift in business that requires new approaches, tools, and skills in order to be successful. Generally, marketers are excited about new opportunities being created through social media and by the use of analytics in marketing, because both provide the potential for differentiation.

A Rebalancing Act

According to Brian Solis, a digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, in order to capitalize on such changes taking place in the marketing industry,  an organization must rebalance. This requires a shift in not only company culture, but in resources, budgets, partners, and strategy. From a recent blog post entitled “Report: Content and the New Marketing Equation,” Solis discusses a report put out by his company that helps organizations find balance in the creation of effective content strategies while delivering value to stakeholders and consumers.  He writes:

To get there of course is not an easy task. As noted earlier, it comes down to culture … it comes down to leadership. Additionally, effective content marketing strategies and ultimately the experiences and outcomes that they can deliver require a supporting infrastructure that is strengthened by pillars of new expertise. It takes a different vision for what’s possible, higher standards and supporting metrics, and most important, a new perspective.

It therefore follows that CMOs need to not only adjust the type of relationship they have with their customers, but to cultivate a habit of listening to them. Chris Fehrnstrom, Chief Marketing Officer at Constellation Brands, expands on this idea in the below video where he talks about his company has not only changed the way they talk to their consumers, but the way that they listen to them:

Constellation Brands has created a Digital Center of Excellence that focuses on the creation of effective digital strategies. At the same time, they have also instituted a variety of tools to help them accomplish effective listening habits with regard to what their consumers are talking about on the web, and they plan to integrate Social CRM into their business model.

Holistic Marketing as a Practice

As mentioned above, in order for CMOs to be effective at capitalizing on new trends, they must find new ways to integrate complex data, evolving technologies, and shifting demographics in addition to becoming facilitators and uncovering new ways to create value. To achieve this, CMOs need to overcome barriers that allow for them to become effective leaders.

According to David Aaker who wrote Spanning Silos: The New CMO Imperative, he suggests that the role of the CMO should be redefined as facilitator, consultant, or service provider as opposed to a central consolidator and decision maker . One way that CMOs can integrate their activities is by collaborating across organizational silos. In this Harvard Business Review article, he lays out five suggestions for achieving this imperative. The below video provides a more in-depth analysis of this idea:

In summary, the role of the CMO is changing and the progression of the industry appears to be outpacing the development of the role itself.  For CMOs to remain effective, the science of business will need to be largely integrated into the art of marketing.

Now it’s your turn: how has the role of the CMO or the marketing departments within your company changed over the last five years? How are you leveraging new tools and resources to take advantage of complex data?

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