From the Digital C-Suite

Before You Hire Your Next CMO, Read This First

I’m speaking at the National Press Club tomorrow about how CMOs can create shareholder value within companies. Many people think that it is the CEO who has the most impact on the overall growth and success of a company. While I find this quite flattering, I will also take this opportunity to argue that shareholder value is generated from the person right next door—the CMO. As I explored in a recent article, digitally-savvy CMOs outperform their peers in the market, big brands such as Volkswagen, UPS, and Comcast, sky-rocketing sales have coincided with CMOs that have pushed the envelope when it comes to digital marketing. I believe that this is far from a coincidence. There are many reasons why CMOs with strong digital chops are making a difference to the bottom line. And before you hire your next marketing executive, here are the things to keep in mind.

Your next CMO should not only be concerned with acquiring new leads, but should also value existing customer relationships.

The ultimate goal of marketing is to expand market share. This is often by acquiring new customers, but all too often companies forget to meet the needs of their existing customer base. This is a huge mistake, not only because you risk attrition, but in today’s social world, news about bad products and services travels fast. Choose a CMO who knows that your brand should be everywhere your prospects AND customers are on the Web. Meet their needs via your social channels, but don’t forget that keeping your brand in front of them via display advertising and other digital channels can go a long way.

Your next CMO should be a multichannel master.

The customer now controls the message, not the marketer. Because of how easy it is for a customer to research and learn about a product or service, a CMO must now ensure that the message is available across all channels.  The next time you’re interviewing a marketing executive candidate, ask them to describe the most successful digital campaign they’ve ever been involved in. And if they don’t mention more than one marketing channel, start scheduling more interviews. Your next CMO should appreciate the value of a truly integrated digital marketing effort. Social media can exert a tremendous influence on buyer behavior, but is most likely only one of multiple marketing touch points that is impacting your closed business. CMOs who impact the bottom line are the ones who appreciate the value of multiple channels, and also give credit where credit’s due by utilizing multi-attribution when determining where to spend marketing dollars next.

Your next CMO should also be a candidate for your next CIO.

CMOs are overtaking CIOs as the big information consumers and technology spenders, and this will ultimately impact shareholder value in the years to come. A role that was once reserved for heads of creative in the branding and agency worlds, CMOs are now analytically minded people who rely heavily on data to make their strategic decisions. Your next CMO should embrace data in all its forms—from CRM data to Web analytics to social insights—and should be well versed in all the technologies that support data-driven decision-making.

The time has come. CMOs can—and should—drive shareholder value. Are you hiring the right person for the job?

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