How consumer-first marketing is changing the role of CMO

How consumer-first marketing is changing the role of CMO

The role of Chief Marketing Officer has dramatically evolved over the last five years. In the past, the job may have primarily focused on helping manage a team in building strong strategy across various channels in an attempt to align with sales.

As long as you had a good broad knowledge of the various traditional and non-traditional marketing channels, you may have typically been in a good position to ensure the two strategies aligned.

In essence, brands typically helped guide the consumer through a path-to-purchase, often in a very structured proactive way.

Then, the consumer took over….

Consumers have since gained the upper hand in the sales AND marketing process and all hell has broken loose in many ways, with brand CEOs and Presidents pushing harder and harder on CMOs to figure out how to realign the strategies, often with an unrealistic expectation that the same principles of brand-first can be “fixed” and all will be right in the world.

The reality is those days are gone, primarily due to mobile, and are most likely never to return.

Where does that leave CMOs?

Like most businesses, those that can adapt and adopt to the modern consumer marketing funnel will find significant opportunity over those still pining for “the good old days.”

In most cases, the impact of digital-first initiatives is where many C-Level executives simply have a lack of understanding – which is understandable especially if they end up being over 40 years old and may simply be later to consumer digital adoption.

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Ready to adapt? Here are three easy steps to ensure you are on the right path:

Realize you aren’t too old to educate yourself.

The harsh reality is if you don’t understand the current consumer journey, you will most likely miss opportunities to succeed in trying to realign marketing and sales strategy. Linkedin, webinars and other great content providers are at your fingertips. Rolling up your sleeves and taking the time to re-educate will pay dividends (if you’ve read this far that means you are most likely on that right path).

Ensure you are managing up as well as down.

Not unusual for C-Level executives to misunderstand consumer-first funnels. They may have never actually seen one and if they have it may have felt like a science project? It’s important not to assume they understand the impact things like content, social, brand outreach and other types of engagement have in keeping consumer attention. Yes, the OLD WAY was 1,000 times easier but that’s no longer reality and helping them to understand why without overwhelming them can be key.

Test locally to provide accountable measuring of strategies.

The level of accountability for CMOs has grown to astronomical proportions. The easiest way to ensure you are on track and being good shepherds to your budgets is often to test some strategies and tactics locally to better determine if both are on-point to deliver intended results. In some cases, this may mean adding strategic “local-focused” partners who are built for this type of grass-roots hand-to-hand combat to your roster of agency partners.


This funnel from In The Know is a great way to test your own knowledge as well as see where your brand (be it B2B or B2C) might have some leaks that need to be plugged!

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