What will the CMO look like in 2020?

What will the CMO look like in 2020?

Over the next three weeks, f1 will be looking at The Changing Role of the Chief Marketing Officer. Our first thought leadership piece is written by guest blogger, Maeve Hosea, an independent journalist who has written for Marketing Week, New York Times and The Guardian.
Today’s CMOs face a daunting task. They are on the frontline of economic and technological upheaval, as well as navigating a constant wave of futuristic trends. CMOs today have to master an ever-expanding media world, be skilled with data and be expert at communicating brand purpose.
The rapidly evolving context of challenges – be they content marketing, native advertising, ever-expanding channels becoming part of the customer journey, data analytics, apps or memes – calls for a reframing of the traditional marketing role and skill set.
The creative and the technical side of the discipline are equally in demand as marketers seek to make their brand relevant to consumers. Through expertise in analytics and data, these marketers are not only acutely aware of a customer’s current preferences but also anticipate their future buying habits. With both their right and left brain engaged, what does the CMO of 2020 look like?
To meet the demands of the future, businesses are restructuring their marketing function and we are starting to see CMOs, CTOs, CIOs and CCOs blending and bumping up against each other at the top level. A growing trend sees brands putting marketing with other functions at the higher level. Eduardo Conrado, who oversees both marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions, defines the marketing technologist. Andy Weston-Webb at Birds Eye oversees both marketing and sales and exemplifies the rise of the chief commercial officer role.
Interesting questions arise when examining the roles of marketing and communications in the Boardroom. Can a communications director become a CMO or can someone who has come up through product marketing, become a communications director? Is it easier for a top-level marketer to include communications in their repertoire than the other way around?
The fundamental truth is they need to work together to secure the belief in brand purpose. Brands today need to be seen to be doing more than their goods and services.
Perhaps, the most powerful tool in this new style CMO’s arsenal is the ability to look at things in different ways. We’ve recently seen Twitter appoint Leslie Berland as its new CMO, coming from the finance sector at American Express and bringing a fresh set of proficiencies and principles. In the future, could this cross-pollination be taken further?
Could coming simply from a marketing background be no longer enough? “Brand building becomes much more important in a ubiquitous land of products and features,” comments Duane Holland, creative strategy director at DH Ready, currently working on a research study into the future of the creative agency. “I wouldn’t be surprised if future CMOs come from outside of the traditional creative industry completely – they could be senior thought leaders who understand how the world and people’s behaviours are changing – think psychology, anthropology and neuroscience.”
Generally, it isn’t the big brands that are disrupting and rewriting the rules on this. The start-ups are where the curious thinking is and where many of the smart decisions are being taken. Having an enterprising mind-set will open up so many more opportunities for CMOs maintains Holland. “The future CMO will be in-tune with this new landscape by becoming ‘Multidisciplinary’ to embrace a world where science, tech, culture and brands meet,” he argues. “If you really want new thinking you need to break down borders and it is not just talking about ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ now – it is about action.”
CMOs need to understand how to incubate ideas a lot more. Successful brands today have to communicate brand purpose, whether that is Dulux selling tins of optimism or Apple selling beautifully-designed innovation. It is noteworthy how many brands and agencies are starting to work or create their own incubators, for example The Bakery coming from M&C Saatchi and Unilever’s The Foundry. We see a move towards a new space that is a lot more inclusive of start-ups but also people are joining them from very different walks of life bringing different perspectives. Comments Holland. “CMO’s will need to sit in the shoes of these start-ups in order to think very differently and avoid being held back by convention or established mind-sets.”
The CMO of 2020 will need to understand when they will need to bring in additional help, perspectives and expertise. Understanding the brand and how to connect with people will be much more of a valuable asset. Developing the brand character through looking at narrative structure around messaging and communications all plays into anthropology, psychology, brain sciences, emotional relationships and reactions. If a CMO has all of that at their disposal, they should be able to articulate their brand in a very clear and concise way that is meaningful to people.
Perhaps in the future CMO will stand for Chief Multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary Officers. They need a very broad understanding of culture and people and how the brand fits into that rather than vice versa. It will be about starting from the outside and working in.
Supporting this new type of CMO is the realisation that by 2020 a large section of CMOs will also be Millennials, who are naturally curious, enterprising, diverse, and noted as part of the ‘Gig Economy’ i.e. those that have multiple roles. Inherently, they will be digital natives and very focussed on the here and now. The best of these new CMOs, will by 2020, be able to embrace a world where channels come and go, converge and emerge.

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