by MarkLives (@marklives) Is there a new C-suite executive on the horizon? Is it time to redefine the role of the CMO, possibly by agreeing that the roles of CMO and CTO are aligning and need some level of collaboration? And can this result in more-effective growth strategies for organisations? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. Next up is Johanna McDowell of Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS).

Once tasked with managing communications and brand, the modern CMO’s role has been expanding to include technology, data and impact (ie sales and the bottom line). Where this is not the case, anecdotal evidence suggests shorter tenures, and a loss of prominence and clout at board level.

Johanna McDowell

Johanna McDowellJohanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which is partnered with the AAR Group in the UK. Johanna is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in South Africa and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.

Marketing, along with the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) has evolved considerably since the earlier days of marketing — and more dramatically so in the past 5–10 years. With the advent of technology and digital capabilities enabling almost everything to be measured in real time, business can expect, and does, far more impact from marketing as a whole. Savvy marketers know how to ‘sell’ a marketing campaign far more strongly in the C-suite boardroom, as they’re now armed with metrics, conversion models, marketing leads’ funnels etc which didn’t exist in the past.

Twenty years ago, an advertising campaign was created, normally with a big TV commercial and all the “attachments” in other media, and allowed to run and run on a few channels that were available then. At best, CMOs could provide brand-health tracking results or awareness and usage results some six months after the campaign had ended. While this was useful to the business, it was always after the fact and couldn’t necessarily be directly related to any sales surge during the period. Return on investment (ROI) could be proved only to a point.

Today’s CMOs are able to deliver results, continuously adjust campaigns and possibilities, test campaigns quickly and at very low cost ahead of roll out, and work closely with sales in order to relate back to actual campaign work. Think about the insurance campaigns that run or any of the retail campaigns that you see now: all provide immediate, trackable leads and results.

And there’s more…

With business problems and challenges looking for better, lest costly results, the role of the chief technology officer (CTO) is becoming more and more important.

The CTO is often very preoccupied with the improving the tech efficiencies of the organisation; it’s easy for the CTO to become mired in day to day issues that come with tech and yet the business needs tech-driven business solutions that might lead to greater growth and profits. Here is where the CMO and CTO may form a partnership within the business that will not only solve marketing issues and deliver ROI but will also solve business issues — with a digital solution possibly born from some inspired thinking from the CMO.

This means that today’s CMOs are everywhere in businesses and therefore of great value to that them. Today’s CMOs don’t spend more than 10–15% of their time with their marketing services providers and agencies. The CMO role is now so important — to finance, to sales. to HR even — that their time is precious and has to be carefully managed.

And what if the CMO is not up to speed with tech?

With no reasonable excuse to not provide hard data, real results and proof of campaign success and budget spend, CMOs who aren’t tech-savvy won’t survive and their younger or younger-at-heart counterparts will succeed faster and faster into the C-suite.

What does this mean for agencies?

Increasingly, agencies are being asked to provide solutions to business problems. If they can’t think that way, then they’re also no longer relevant. It’s no longer about creating a highly visible campaign but rather a highly effective, nimble creative solution which will solve the business problem at every level and achieve the results CMOs needs. This is a huge opportunity for smart agencies — creative AND media — giving them the chance to help the time-poor (but highly rated) CMOs achieve the goals of the business.

I increasingly see this “ask” coming through in pitches and, as I work internationally and am aware of global trends, clients (mainly CMOs) are asked to talk about their business problems to prospective agencies and to brief those agencies to come up with creative solutions — in whatever form that might be — in order for clients to remain relevant and cutting edge in their own environments.

Measurement metrics don’t mean an absence of creativity; on the contrary, the best results will always be rooted in the strongest levels of creativity but, with the measurement tools now available instantly, rewards are amplified and tracked by all levels within the client organisation and the CMO is able to “bask” in the warmth of a strong bottom line delivery. This can only be good for marketing as a profession!

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the ad industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of potential panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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