Empathy For The CMO

Jonathan La GrecaFebruary 21, 20193 min

Customer empathy is a widely discussed topic for building brands today. A related fact is that Chief Marketing Officers need our empathy as well. That’s the conclusion we came to after speaking with 20 different CMO’s to better understand what is top of mind for them and their organizations.

Of the many insights, two really stood out.

1. A Pronounced Focus On Accountability And ROI At The Expense Of Brand Building

This isn’t a new concept, nor did hearing this surprise us; however, the intensity with which CMO’s expressed it did.

Many organizations have evolved to include Chief Growth Officers, which means that their CMO’s have more accountability when it comes to sales. They are now responsible for marrying short-term conversion and long-term brand building.

Yet, several CMO’s indicated that overall, the marketing community is falling short on long-term brand building. Additional desk research we conducted confirmed this and pointed to digital and technology advances as key contributors.

The issue is that long-term brand building takes a “long time” to demonstrate results and when organizations aren’t hitting plan, CEO’s are pointing their finger at CMO’s first where 40% have been in their roles for less than 2 years.

Further to which, if you look closer at the marketing functions these CMO’s are leading, many of their team members are rotating between businesses and different brands every 12-18 months. As a result, their performance reviews tend to be myopic and are very focused on short-term impact, versus longer-term brand building.

2. Technology Is Leading To Role Proliferation

In our research CMO’s indicated that they were feeling overwhelmed by technology and that their roles have proliferated substantially as a result.

Today’s CMO’s are being asked to do more and be more than in any other time in the history of the role. Specifically to:

  • Digitize their organizations – thus playing the role of Chief Digital Officers;
  • Better use their data, while also protecting their consumers in doing so – thus also acting as Chief Information Officers;
  • Uncover the ad tech and martech companies that can help them deliver personally relevant content at scale – thus leading some part of the Procurement process; and
  • Hire a wider range of skill sets to enable their organizations despite having to grow leaner through restructuring efforts – effectively becoming Chief Talent Officers.

All of these roles are in addition to the increased expectation that CMO’s are focused on growth.

Empathy: The Ability To Understand And Share The Feelings Of Another

Whether you are a marketer reporting into a CMO or a partner agency (i.e. creative, design, innovation, media, or insights firm), or brand consultancy, a little bit of empathy can go a long way.

Starting with what is dominating the thoughts of the CMO in your life is a good way to help you drive more impact for your organization or your clients.

If you are interested in learning more or contributing to this ongoing dialogue on what is top of mind for CMO’s, please send us a message, as we will be facilitating several brand building discussions with marketing and insights leaders from different industries over the next few months. The journey will put us in a position to be more empathetic to those in the business world’s most dangerous role.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Jonathan La Greca, Hotspex, VP Strategic Growth

The Blake Project Can Help: Accelerate Brand Growth Through Powerful Emotional Connections

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