Rather than render the CMO’s job obsolete, findings from IDC indicate that his or her role has had to become “open for definition” in order to satisfy both unprecedented customer expectations and skyrocketing boardroom demands. However, using current marketing strategies, many CMOs are running franticly between both, and are failing to help their brand reach its full potential.
Adweek BrandShare sat down with Kevin Akeroyd, SVP and GM from Oracle Marketing Cloud, to discuss what marketers can do to strike a sustainable balance and succeed in 2015.
Lydia Dishman: How do you think the role of the CMO has changed over the past five years?
Kevin Akeroyd, Oracle Marketing Cloud: First, it’s important to remember how much hasn’t changed. The need to be customer-centric, the responsibility to drive growth, the use of data to drive insights and to show ROI—none of that is new. What is new is that CMOs have been dealt a serious “reality check.” Many have come to realize that in all the ways customers engage with a brand and its products through social media, in stores and at other points during their day, there is no single customer journey that leads to a magical place of cemented brand loyalty. Then they wake up to the fact that everything they need to be successful is at their disposal: big data, technology, digital marketing expertise, etc. It’s just not being applied correctly.
LD: What are some of the challenges CMOs are currently facing?
KA: The biggest challenge is the way technology is used to satisfy the competing demands of shareholders (Wall Street) and customers (Main Street). On the one hand, you have a board that is pushing for profitable growth and predictable performance quarter over quarter. That can force a CMO to adopt a short-term mindset focused on financial measurements to prove value that translates to “batch-and-blast” marketing style tactics. On the other, you have customers who demand pervasive personalization, customized and dazzling digital experiences and one-to-one marketing at massive scale. CMOs have to play the long game here, building relationships that will captivate customers through the years. In short, when faced with these seemingly contrasting sets of expectations, CMOs default to addressing one constituency at the expense of the other. This is the single biggest inhibitor to a CMO’s success.
LD: Are there any other factors preventing brands from reaching their full growth potential?
KA: False promises and hype make things worse for CMOs. For example, many marketers mythologize the “customer journey” as if it’s a trip down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz. In reality, consumers don’t skip through a “journey” one step at a time, but interact with brands in unpredictable ways. The customer journey is a made up concept that some vendors use to lead marketers through their product portfolio. Then there’s the hype around big data. CMOs are already shoveling through haystacks of data. What they need to find are more needles of insight. Likewise, we know that content marketing is mission critical, but it can’t be based solely on cool creative or the old school “publishing” strategies. Engaging customers has to happen across channels through compelling stories customized to each type of interaction.
LD: This sounds like a no-win situation for CMOs. Is there anything they can do to ensure success despite an increasingly complex set of demands?
KA: Yes, but it requires a shift in thinking. It’s possible to navigate technology in a competitive way, share real results quickly and easily and get to the heart of real marketing that works. We’ve created an enterprise platform for marketers that can meet both near-term demands to satisfy revenue expectations and the long-term aspiration to deliver outstanding customer experiences. The platform is open and comes with pre-built integration to the largest set of marketing application partners so that marketers can continue to innovate. The Oracle Marketing Cloud is also the only marketing cloud solution that integrates cross-channel, content and social marketing with data management, so the marketer can create ideal customers that actively engage with their brand.
LD: There are already thousands of marketing technology tools out there—why do CMOs need a marketing cloud solution and specifically why Oracle Marketing Cloud?
KA: For starters, the Oracle Marketing Cloud connects disparate interactions to individual customers. All those unpredictable ways a customer engages with a brand—both online and offline—are brought together. This enables the CMO to adapt and adjust the customer experience in real time. In addition, the Oracle Marketing Cloud allows the CMO to align content throughout the lifecycle of the customer’s engagement, making it easier than ever for marketing teams to create, manage and scale content across channels. And if there is another, newer technology to add to the mix, the Oracle Marketing Cloud’s open framework connects all the CMO’s data, apps and media, making it possible to leverage innovation as it happens.
LD: Is there any other advice you have for today’s CMOs?
KA: Yes, there are several questions they need to ask themselves before attempting to tackle the expectations of both Wall Street and Main Street.
First of all, a CMO has to identify the differences in each set of expectations. In other words, what’s the gap between what your customers expect, what your CEO and board members expect and what your own team believes is possible? And how can you shift to the offensive and approach this gap head on?
Second, a CMO has to be able to separate the valuable information from the hype surrounding it. What are the marketing myths that you think should be challenged? And how can you avoid falling into the traps that these myths create?
Third, take a step back and look at the big picture. As a CMO, what is your full business and creative potential? What is standing in your way? What skills and expertise do you need to bring into your organization to help you move quickly and innovate? And ultimately, how can technology serve you better in your actual mission?