No corporate function has evolved more dramatically than marketing. Once a fairly discrete department within the organization, marketing is more and more often being asked to fulfill a far more significant, strategic role with implications for the entire enterprise. Indeed, a number of chief marketing officers (CMOs) have flourished in their new capacity as “Growth Champions,” a term we use to describe marketing’s engagement in leading companies to expand their reach in the consumer or business-to-business marketplace.
The importance of that new growth is highlighted repeatedly in research conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the leading U.S. trade association for senior marketers. In particular, the ongoing study demonstrates that growth in revenue and profitability is strongest among those companies that elevate marketing’s role to the strategic level. In the last several months, our research has expanded to include interviews with 15 CMOs from some of the top marketing organizations worldwide, captured in the recently published book CMO Thought Leaders: the Rise of the Srategic Marketer (strategy+business Books, 2007). In the course of those conversations, there emerged six themes confirming our analysis that the best CMOs:
Put the consumer at the heart of marketing
Make marketing accountable
Embrace the challenges of new media
Recognize the new organizational imperative
Live a new agency paradigm
Although some of these imperatives may sound all too familiar, there is a world of difference between knowing and doing. Successful CMOs live these principles every day. They are complete marketers, acting on each and all of the six basics effectively and consistently, both to focus their work and to communicate the marketing department’s potential to the entire organization. And, although there’s no one-size-fits-all model for a successful contemporary CMO, it’s no coincidence that these themes consistently were deemed important in our discussions with some of the discipline’s most influential thought leaders. They represent the leading edge of the marketing profession.
No one is in a better position to understand the metamorphosis of marketing than the change agents themselves. “Every day feels like a brand-new game,” says Cammie Dunaway, Yahoo Inc.’s chief marketing officer, when she talks about today’s dynamic marketing environment. It’s an opinion she and most other top CMOs share: The business of making powerful connections with customers is in the midst of unprecedented change. And with that change comes the opportunity for marketing to add value to the enterprise in ways that have never before been possible.
Put the Consumer at the Heart of Marketing
A customer-centric perspective is an integral part of the marketing programs of not just consumer packaged-goods (CPG) companies but every marketing organization that works smart. Indeed, a customer-driven focus should influence just about everything that happens in marketing — from research, to engagement with innovation and product development, to the choice of communication vehicles for staying in touch with the company’s target audiences.
Tapping into consumer consciousness requires work on many fronts. For Procter & Gamble, this means keeping marketers and researchers in their positions long enough for them to develop a significantly deeper understanding of the consumer. This longevity and focus were not part of the traditional P&G career path. It also means face-to-face visits to Laundromats and to customers’ homes, and intelligence gathering on P&G’s own new consumer Web sites, such as www.homemadesimple.com and www.vocalpoint.com. The information gathered from these interactions doesn’t get filed away in the bottom drawer of a midlevel planner. P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel is adamant about disseminating this data throughout the company to sharpen the focus on consumer behavior across the board — his pledge to “really, really hit on that” is emblematic of a management approach so relentless that it has changed the nature of everyday decision making at this company. (See “Procter & Gamble: Consumer-Centricity.”)