You’ve probably already noticed the rise of marketing. Maybe a talented mid-career marketer in your organization is now being invited to join in product planning meetings, or perhaps they’re heading a task force to improve knowledge sharing within the organization. This recognition and rise of marketing talent goes all the way to the top of the organization: Recent studies from Forrester and Deloitte confirm more chief marketers are either collaborating closely with the CEO or taking the CEO role for themselves.
These shifts in responsibility point to a corresponding shift in focus. From top to bottom, marketers are choosing to step outside the customer experience. CMOs speak the language of new revenue and sales enablement, while their team obsesses over nurture strategy, brand strategy, and content strategy as ways to locate new prospects and maximize revenue from existing clients. This is the language of shareholder value, and this is the stuff of company earnings calls.
This post is the first in a series about the marketing-first business era. When marketing steps outside the customer experience, a lot of things happen: Organizational structure is shifted, talent and skills training curricula are updated, and the languages of growth and ROI are bolstered by marketing technology.
Though this new marketing ROI language might feel like a natural place to start, it would ultimately prove shortsighted. In the marketing-first business era, the marketer’s inclusive decision-making process is a competitive advantage in each department. Marketing specialists and marketing leaders learn from each other when it comes to technology, the customer, and the marketplace.
So instead, this series begins with a focus on the marketing team—from coordinators to managers, from directors to VPs and the CMO—and explores how that team collaborates and grows.
“Be involved in as many non-marketing projects as you can, particularly finance, operations, and organizational development . . . test yourself outside the marketing arena.” — CMOtoCEO: the route to the top
Leading global brands like Audi, Mercedes Benz, and Royal Dutch Shell, in addition to rising brands like Gilt Groupe, have, in recent years, promoted a former CMO to CEO. And there is evidence the marketing-first mentality has survived its move to the corner office. In an interview with the New York Times, Michelle Peluso talked about her leadership style, saying, “I don’t have an office . . . I never want to be sitting in an ivory tower surrounded by people who tell me what I want to hear or feel like I don’t really understand how people feel and what’s going on.”
It turns out most CMOs follow this inclusive model; in fact, Forrester reports 93 percent of CMOs depend on their marketing teams to build their expertise. Beyond their own marketing team, CMOs learn from marketing peers at other companies and from potential marketing recruits at equal levels before seeking guidance from the existing CEO.
The trust and openness exhibited within the marketing group, and increasingly throughout the new, marketing-first organization, is liberating in many ways. Businesses are benefiting and taking the risks to deploy new and powerful systems for marketing automation and content marketing. In some cases, these tools and tactics are still excluded from the mainstream or have yet to reach their full maturity. But today’s marketing teams are moving quickly to take advantage of these new practices and determine how they directly benefit traditional marketing activities.
Marketing teams are able to share an unprecedented amount of information. In my next post on the marketing-first business, we’ll cover the backbone systems that allow marketing leaders to talk turkey while also empowering the marketing team to report on the success of core marketing activities and test creative ideas and new techniques.
Are you a marketer who’s gowing and taking on new marketing and business challenges? Tell me what you think about your newfound power and responsibility in the comments below! For more marketing tips, become a Content Standard insider to get valuable insights sent to your inbox.