Is the CMO title going extinct?
Ask a handful of marketers to describe their jobs and you’ll likely get a handful of different answers. There is no shortage of opinion around marketing’s responsibility. Some organizations want a strategist closely aligned with sales, while others want the focus on communications and branding. But having one sole focus is becoming increasingly rare.
Marketing is becoming more complex every day. We see that in the abundance of new titles popping up, from chief growth officer to chief experience officer. The reality is, they are all accurate descriptions. Their variety reflects the technologically-driven ways companies must operate in order to reach consumers today.
These new titles also show the industry’s desire to move away from a job title that is often misunderstood and mistrusted. Some people have a visceral reaction to the word ‘marketing.’ Are you spinning something? Are you a salesperson? Marketing itself needs a marketing campaign.
Regardless of the title, to be a successful, effective marketer today means engaging consumers at all points across their journey. Modern, full-stack marketers can go all the way from the very top of the funnel, creating cultural, iconic brands, to direct response, performance marketing and down to customer care and loyalty.
Modern marketing is all about performance storytelling, or the integration of creativity and analytics. It’s about creativity that is accountable to business results. It’s about developing powerful stories with a results-focused approach based on feedback loops to measure and optimize performance.
It no longer can be about brand vs. performance. A successful marketer has to integrate the best of both throughout the customer journey. Brands need a full funnel strategy that also tells a story. In a modern marketing organization, there can be no more silos; everything from brand to direct response has to be integrated and managed together.
I call full-stack marketers unicorns, because they are rare. We need to cultivate more of them. There is more demand than supply when it comes to digitally-native marketers. Companies need to develop their own triple-threat talents, people who are adept at a wide range of skills from creative, to martech to the customer journey. This next-generation talent puts the customer at the center and connects all of the necessary specialist functions. They take the entire customer journey, from the bottom of the funnel all the way to the top, to and tell brilliant brand stories. They are digitally-native, understand data and design, are diverse and are constantly pursuing self-development.
It’s our responsibility to cultivate such talent and manage their careers so that by the time they get to the top, they can piece the disparate elements together for customers and differentiate their brands across consumer touchpoints.
One way to do this is to offer experience in different areas. Take a creative marketer and move them into a marketing technology function. Then have them run a loyalty program or take on a media role. Be very conscious of both the industries and the experiences that you get. Be very deliberate and focused in developing the new marketing career path.
We will always need specialists. But specialties are expanding and getting deeper and modern marketers need to effectively connect all those specialists so they can excel across the entire modern marketing stack.
We need to do more to cultivate modern marketers. If we don’t, we will continue to suffer from silos that impede growth — as will the customers we’re trying to reach.
Vineet Mehra is chief growth and customer experience officer at Good Eggs and chairman of Effie Worldwide board of directors.