Chief marketing officers are feeling the heat: Where is brand in their solutions?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

7 April 2014

Chief Marketing Officers: Focus on strategy, not tactics

In a study of more than 200 chief marketing officers, Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud found that CMOs are spending more of their budget on digital marketing, searching for ways to measure success and are feeling increased pressure to increase revenue growth.

It’s the last finding that interested me the most. Pressure to increase revenue? Isn’t that the sole purpose of marketing?

“But increasing profits is the only reason to market. If anything you do is not intended to increase profits, then don’t do it.”


Chief Marketing OfficersThere are many factors that affect your bottom line. There are market factors, trends. There are your own operations, and the products and services you are selling. It isn’t just solely about marketing. (It can even be about weather. The cold weather has put a damper on first quarter 2014 sales and many public companies are expected to report dismal earnings in the next few weeks.)

But increasing profits is the only reason to market. If anything you do is not intended to increase profits, then don’t do it. I say this (again) because, as readers of this blog know, most marketing is simply terrible – designed to feed the egos of the ad agency and company executives.

It has also been my experience that there is a misunderstanding of brand – and why it should be the first thing CMOs think about. Let me share this quote from Lynn Vojvodich, EVP and CMO of

“It is so much more than marketing now. When a customer comes through one of our channels, they don’t care if you are in marketing or sales. They just want one consistent brand experience with you. As marketers, we need to be stewards of that journey. The new CMO is all about owning customer experience.”

OK, sounds fair enough, although the customer experience note betrays a certain forboding. Further into the study and you see what Vojvodich is talking about: Customer service. A quarter of CMOs in the survey said they are more involved in customer service.

Of course that is important, but marketers need to see beyond the individual tactics of digital marketing and customer experience to truly steal share. Per the study, respondents said the top three priorities are customer acquisition, personalized experiences and customer engagement, while also noting that Web personalization and marketing automation will be key.

OK. But what about asking yourself if your brand is meaningful enough that it guides all those tactics so you create preference? The number one concern of any CMO is deciding whether the brand is doing enough of the heavy lifting by being different and better than the competition. Then, CMOs must shape the tactics as the fulfillment of that brand.

Of course, CMOs should be looking at channels and ways to reach the customer. But that is not what will increase profits. The brand message, which drives everything marketing touches (including the customer experience), is what impacts the bottom line the most.

The reason CMOs are feeling more pressure? Because CEOs are discovering that their marketing spends are not impacting profits as much as they should. To relieve the pressure, CMOs need to take a step back and look at what must drive it all: Their brands.

See more posts in the following related categories: Branding Chief Marketing Officers Marketing


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