What’s Top of Mind for CMOs Right Now?


For our report on how the role of the CMO has changed in recent years, we asked more than 60 CMOs about their current priorities and what they’re planning for 2020. Our interviews covered everything from iHeartMedia’s CMO talking about the digital transformation of radio to Ryan Dell taking men’s lifestyle brand MVMT from online to offline.

While the CMOs’ answers differed depending on their company, industry and tenure, many stressed the importance of team building, enacting growth through new channels and utilizing new technology to its fullest potential. Below are insights from six marketing leaders.

Jen Grant, CMO of Looker

One of our big priorities is regional marketing. We’re preparing the foundation for that right now, and [this year], it’ll continue to be our top priority.

We have the ability now to get much more targeted and efficient in how we apply our spend into the territories. We’re using data to create regional dashboards, so I can sit down with the vice president of enterprise sales for Texas and say, ‘This is what Texas looks like. We’re seeing that there’s not enough marketing qualified leads [MQLs] in this region.’ This means that marketing will now work on building awareness and top of the funnel.

Compare that to New York: “In New York we’ve got lots of top of funnel, lots of people coming in, but they’re not closing, so let’s do some closing dinners in New York.”

2020 is all about implementing that regional, data-driven marketing that we’ve been dreaming about for a long time.

Charlie Cole, Chief eCommerce Officer of Samsonite Brands

I’ve been in this gig for a little under three years. When I think back to year one, it was about making sure we have the right people in the right places and being set up for success. Year two was about the basics: We’ve aligned on KPIs and larger strategy, and we’ve seen very good results.

Now, it’s year three. It’s about asking much more thoughtful and critical questions and frankly, changing how the organization thinks. That is not a light switch. For example, we’re reevaluating how we think about marketing spend in a larger way. Should we have set budgets, or should we have an ROI target and be willing to spend as much money as we want? These are really big transforming questions that we’re starting to take on.

Bringing the digital to the physical [is top of mind for us]. We started digitally so our focus this year—and largely next year—will be: How do we take what we’ve done in communicating our brand value through social media [and replicate that]when somebody walks into a store? The same persona, the same look, feel and emotional tie-in?

The nice thing about a digitally-native brands is, once you’ve established a brand connection, it’s easier to maintain because they’re following you on Instagram or you have an email address.

So, how do you build that relationship with somebody in the physical sense?

[iHeart is] a mass-reach consumer platform. We have listener data that includes where users are listening and whether they cross from broadcast into digital. We have a huge opportunity to apply that data to help brands find the right target of consumers and reach them via a mix of broadcast and digital marketing. I’ve learned the art of audio marketing, and now I get to sit down with clients, agencies and the CMOs of other companies, and help them figure out how to make audio their secret weapon.

Steven Tristan Young, CMO of Poshmark

My main priority in year one was to understand and develop my team because that team is going to build whatever we want to build in the next few years. Some people often immediately say, ‘Oh, I need to do a rebrand, and I need to do all these things.’ But they haven’t spent enough time understanding what the team is doing well, [and]what they’ve built that they’re proud of.

The next two years we can focus on three things: First, how do we continue to scale our marketing investments so we can drive growth? Not from a new customer, but from an existing customer; making every visit monetizable, but also measurable. Number two is about having a clarity of message. This is where we start to understand how to create the brand. Number three, how do we create a culture—and I hate saying this—of innovation? To grow the way we intend to grow, I have to think, what are new channels? What are new ways of measuring? If we grow into another three markets, how do we create a playbook?

Derek Slayton, CMO of Terminus Software

Growth through existing customer success and new customer acquisition are the two big goals that we have for this year. Most CMOs—if you boil down what their job actually is—define efficiencies and leverage in the go-to-market. So, sales organizations focus on, ‘How do I sell better? How do I help people move through their buying process better? How do I get to revenue faster and more successfully?’

Marketers are trying to look for what’s the equation and the resourcing we want to put around our go-to-market that creates the most efficiency and leverage in doing that. That’s probably what my number one goal is as an executive team [member]—to help us find go-to-market efficiencies and invest where we’re seeing success and divest where we’re not.

This article first appeared in www.emarketer.com

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