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Answer these 4 Questions before you appoint your next CMO

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As companies rapidly evolve, it is to be expected that the priorities and expectations of roles within a brand evolve as well. But no position has changed quite as rapidly as the CMO. Once considered the nexus of all things creative, the CMO is now also tasked with heading up all consumer experience efforts.

These changes have left many CEOs unsure of what exactly to look for in their CMO; or how to equip them with the right tools for the job. Do they need a numbers whizz who is keen to dig into the granular details of campaigns?

Do they still require a free-thinking creative with an intuition for the eye-catching campaign? With the economic outlook darkening, it is more important than ever that brands have the right CMO to help weather the storm.

With this in mind, these are the key questions CEOs need to consider before bringing onboard a CMO.

What are you looking for in a CMO?

This is the starting point for any CMO hunt. The changing nature of the role has led some brands to dispense with the role altogether – Unilever, for example, has created a new role that sits between marketing and sales. Fractional CMOs have also seen success in recent years, with their short-term contracts allowing brands to swiftly evolve.

Ultimately however, it is up to each individual company to decide on what they expect of their CMO, and there is no wrong answer. Brands should consider their long-term plans and the CMO’s role in activity such as managing a brand facelift and relaunch, realigning the media strategy, ramping up the MMM studies to increase marketing efficiency, or even providing support on an acquisition.

Most brands will already have an idea of what they want to achieve and what they are looking for in a CMO, so in a way, this is the least important question. It is the next three on the list that will require more scrutiny.

Does your CMO have a head for data (or willingness to listen to those who do)?

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Data is at the core of all decision-making in modern marketing. While a good creative-eye and ability to think outside the box remain important, in order to make advertising as impactful as possible, a CMO needs to be able to drill down into the figures or take the advice of those with a firmer grasp on numbers.

The perceived numerical illiteracy of CMOs is often a tension point within brands. Almost half of CEOs don’t believe that their CMOs understand a company’s profit and loss or balance sheet. The proliferation of supply chain shortages, ongoing repercussions of the pandemic and now the likely recession reaffirm the need for CMOs to keep a close eye on the numbers.

But it is not only budgets that data is key for. The wealth of data that global brands hold, if analysed successfully, can be indispensable for optimising campaign spend and measuring impact on a granular level.

Will your CMO have access to real-time data to help them make better decisions?

Data is a two-way street, and while CEOs need to examine the willingness of an incoming CMO to harness these figures, they also have to ensure ease of access to that data.

In global brands, data is often siloed and hard to reach. Generating ‘post-mortem’ reports on a campaign can take weeks, while pinpointing exact ad spend can take even longer. Not only can this lead to increased friction between CEOs and CMOs, but can lead to wasted spend.

With many CFOs now likely to be reassessing budgeting and looking for areas to cut back on, the CMO must have full access to media spend data, to allow them to make effective recommendations. Without access to a clear line of sight on all media data, CMOs are being deprived of the tools they need to create effective marketing.

Are they willing to implement a ‘test-and-learn’ approach to marketing?

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All too often, global brands make changes of direction in large, sweeping actions. A new CMO can often be a catalyst for this type of change. This ‘big bang’ approach can be a gamble however – P&G, for example, admitted that heading in the wrong direction led to a loss of market share.

But as the famous saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. CMOs need to show patience to be able to implement a test-and-learn approach to marketing that takes inspiration from the Japanese concept Kaizen.

This practice posits continuous improvement via incremental changes, mostly famously employed by Toyota who streamlined their manufacturing process through making small changes then measuring the outcomes. Ultimately, the brand’s considered approach led to increased profits.

With finger-tip access to media data, CMOs can begin to implement change in increments, measuring their results and course-correcting if necessary. By not overcommitting, brands can reduce wasting spend on courses of action that harm ROI.

What is expected from a CMO will differ at every brand, and finding the right fit is not always simple. But no matter what exactly the role entails, the ability for CMOS to access media data in a simple, timely fashion should be a priority. Not only does it allow for ad budget to be more tightly controlled – reducing friction with CEOs and CFOs in the process – but make campaigns as effective and efficient as possible. 

As the CMO’s role continues to shift, the need for up-to-date and accurate media data to aid decision making will only increase, and this should be a core consideration when bringing on-board a CMO.

By Bridget Arik, Chief Operations Officer, Redmill Solutions

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