CMOs at Risk: How to Stay Relevant in Today’s Digital Buying Process

@Wendy | Conversion Optimization, Strategy

Chief marketing officers are surviving in their jobs longer than in the past (just 45 months according to recruiting firm Spencer Stuart), but last only about half as long as chief executives. Why so short? Corporations expect chief marketing officers to prove their work has a real impact on driving business, and the new breed of CMO is more sophisticated about technology and staying in touch via a non-linear buying process.

How to Stay in Touch

Today’s best-of-breed CMOs constantly source from multiple venues including:

  • Top-tier technical marketers and peer networks
  • Social media feeds, presentations and blogs from industry thought leaders, analysts and periodicals
  • Vendor demonstrations, updates and news
  • Digital agency partners

In addition to sourcing the latest in digital marketing innovation, top CMOs develop strategies that are aligned with buyer intent and execute their programs using agile marketing best practices (avoiding the waterfall method of execution). Todays marketers are juggling an onslaught of new marketing channels from Facebook to Pinterest and are dealing with the proliferation of new devices like tablets and smartphones. Along with multiple channels, a deluge of data forces many to learn how to analyze the analytics from strategic partners.

Evolving with Changing Buying Patterns

Marketing strategy is evolving at a fast pace and CMOs who are adopting the practice of building Buying Process Maps (BPMs) at the core of their marketing strategy will fair best when it comes to connecting with consumers and understanding their buying habits. If you don’t know what a ‘BPM’ is, you are on the road to obsolescence. Back it up one step and change the assumption that the buying process resembles a funnel and is linear, too.

“Prospects don’t just enter at the top of the funnel; instead, they come in at any stage. Furthermore, they often jump stages, stay in a stage indefinitely, or move back and forth between them.”

This makes it imperative to adopt a buyer-centered marketing process at the core of your marketing strategy that has a solid strategic plan supported by modern buyer processes. Furthermore, the process should be not centered around the consumer transaction, but should instead focus on the relationship. Antonio Lucio, Chief Brand Officer at Visa, developed a Customer Engagement Journey in which  transactions occur in the context of the relationship rather than relationships in the context of the transaction.

The following points impact marketing strategy and will enable engagement throughout the buying process:

  • Applying Buying Process Mapping (BPM) to the micro-decision
  • Recognizing the sales funnel (moving prospects from awareness through consideration to purchase) is not linear
  • Aligning consistent messaging and content to the buying process to build a relationship to the brand
  • Creating opportunities for buyer engagement at multiple touch points to encourage a lead through the funnel

Narrowing the Gap

The gap between great CMOs and obsolete CMOs is growing. Great CMOs evolve with buyer intent, develop content to nurture the buyer relationship with the brand, and adopt an agile method of program execution. The bottom line? CMOs must demonstrate the value of their marketing efforts towards attracting, cultivating and converting buyers or find him/herself out of a job.

Additions & Feedback

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