The new CMO

Jo Coombs, Managing Director at OgilvyOne London, shares her observations about how the CMO is becoming an agent for change and what makes a successful CMO today.

Watch the chaptered interview on our YouTube channel.

Highlights from the interview:

The rise of CMO influence

The influence of the CMO has increased significantly, partly because they’re sitting on a lot of data in terms of what the customer is doing. This includes purchasing data, marketing data that comes from customers responding to promotions or joining loyalty schemes, and social media data. It all tends to come into the marketing organization, which gives it enormous power. The CMOs who I think are very smart use that information to extend their reach within their organizations. They have enormous understanding of the customer and can talk to the board or the CEO or the rest of the organization.

Attributes of a successful CMO

One of the important things successful CMOs do is to translate marketing into language that the board speaks. For example, they can talk about the impact that behavior change programs have had from a much more commercial perspective or can draw on information at their fingertips that might affect supply or distribution.

Successful CMOs also think outside the traditional advertising and marketing channels, and think about the entire customer experience and the role of communications. This can mean thinking of how marketing can be used in new ways in the customer journey or in external PR communications.

CMOs as agents for change

I've definitely started to see CMOs become a force for change within organizations, partly because they are very customer-centric, which means they tend to look outside the organization more than inside. So they have an external perspective, either through looking at what the competition is doing or by listening to what their customer is saying. This is also helping CMOs increase their power and influence within organizations and giving them more credibility to make changes.

What's interesting, from an agency perspective, is that we're watching where the balance of power ends up. I believe that it will be a partnership between the operations COO and the CMO working as a team, because I don't think it can just be one or the other. If it's all about operations, then you forget the customer. If it's all about the customer, then you may not get the distribution or you may not be able to keep up with demand or you may not have the infrastructure and backend to support it.

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