Skills needed by the CMO in the future

Yahoo! asked me to share key trends for CMOs over the next five years.  The challenge, of course, was to do this in 200 words.   This got me so excited about the future of our profession that I wanted to give the long version of my answer here.  Here are some predictions:

CMOs will Become “Friends” with Data

A lot of us entered this field because we’re right-brained “creatives” who see numbers as the province of left-brained “bean counters.”  To be successful, we’ll have to use both sides of our brains.  We’ll need to mine the data for the insight it gives into customer behavior, then use our new-found understanding to drive attitudes about the brands we shepherd.  We need to develop and implement whole brain capability to be successful.  Behavioral insights from data can provide the guidance needed.

CMOs will Lead in Real Time

Gone are the days when we’d launch an initiative and then wait to see what customers thought of it.  Now they react instantaneously—and we get immediate feedback.  Not only will we have to cozy up to the information they generate, we’ll have to quickly digest and evaluate it.  And then we’ll have to use it to strengthen our brand strategies.  The velocity of change has never been higher, and we’ll need to act quickly on our customers’ needs and desires to remain relevant.

CMOs will Love Customers—Not Just Prospects

Everyone who knows me knows this is a pet peeve.  Marketing in the last century was totally focused on acquiring new customers, often ignoring current ones.  And there’s still too much residue of this form of thinking.

CMOs focused on customer acquisition ignore two very important points.

  • In the digital environment, it’s never been easier for customers to switch brands.  If they’re not getting what they want, another product or service is just a click away.  We need to focus on creating brand rituals, not just habits and routines—because these are easy to walk away from.  And we’ll never do that if we’re always chasing the next customer.
  • Keeping current customers happy is also more profitable: “it’s cheaper to keep her.”  It takes $17 of new business to replace $1 of lost business.  And the average spend of a repeat customer is 67% higher than a new one.

CMOs will use Ideals to Rally Customers

Powerful ideas capture customers.  It used to be about “value”—offering a quality product or service at a fair price.  Now a brand must have “values”—ideals its customers share.  Being green.  Local sourcing.  Giving back to the community.  Customers are loyal to brands that mirror their values (and this is an important way to build brand rituals).

CMOs will Target Individual Customers

We’ve been so good about reaching homogenous groups: the coveted 18- to 35-year-old demographic, for example.  But every customer believes that he or she is unique—and expects to be treated that way.  And with the rise of data on each customer, we’re now able to see them one at a time.  This has made 1:1 marketing campaigns viable—and they’re another strategy for creating brand ritual.  Treat each customer as a distinct person with unique needs.  They will appreciate this by making your brand a part of their lives.

Bonus: CMOs will Love Multichannel

I only had room for five trends, but here’s an important sixth.  The infatuation with digital will be replaced with the reality of a multichannel approach.  Some customers will want to do everything online.  Some will want to go to a store.  Some will want to speak with a person on the phone.  A 1:1 approach will accommodate all of them.

Of course the future already is here.  Smart CMOs are using tactics in some if not all of these areas.  Make sure you’re among this group—and you’ll be forecasting the direction of marketing in five years!


Categories: about me, Analytics, brand strategy, consumer behavior, crm, database, emotive, future, internet marketing, loyalty, marketing, measurable, new media, retail

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