For the better part of the 20th century, founders and their fledgling companies could follow a basic formula and succeed: (a) build a quality product and (b) gain customers through print advertising, direct 1-on-1 sales, and customer word-of-mouth. Small brands focused on selling products while only the big brands could invest in marketing. This ensured the growth and dominance of huge companies such as Unilever, GE, P&G and Nike. Therefore, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) were almost non-existent outside of multi-national companies.
Then the world changed
The internet flourished. Improved technology delivered on promises of better outputs, causing quality products to became a minimum expectation. This fueled the emergence of low-cost foreign manufacturers and technology developers who create an endless amount of new brands and comparable products. Powerful retailers like Amazon began to gain a foothold.
Perhaps even more importantly, this flattened, hyper-competitive environment leveraged a growing understanding of the human brain, segmenting and targeting customers in remarkable ways. New online channels and mobile device marketing bypassed historic, expensive barriers like traditional media. Email marketing, social media, digital advertising, and software platforms like CRMs expose consumers to over 3,000 brand messages a day. These messages are being facilitated by a combination of over 5000 available marketing tools (6,289 according to ChiefMarTec.com). Certainly, getting through to customers has gotten a lot harder.
The CMO’s Role – Sales Enabler
Chief Marketing Officers are building the path to reach your next customer. They are the critical instrument for a long-term sales growth trajectory – filling the funnel for sales. They are the customer relationship connectors and storytellers CEOs rely on to build value in the brand. Most importantly, CMOs are the sales enablers that connect research, tools and processes to fill the top of sales funnels with high-value, primed buyers or ensures a product turns online and in-store. CMOs are as responsible for sales as the head of sales.
Marketing is the most rapidly changing field in business. Unfortunately, non-marketing CXOs no longer can cover for a lack of marketing leadership. Delegating the marketing strategy to a tactical, execution-oriented marketing manager or agency rarely establishes a forward-thinking sales funnel. Each sales person starts making up their own story, pursuing unqualified leads, and success rates are low. Therefore, the customer’s path is unclear and your sales potential long-term is limited.
Creating A Platform For Sales
A great CMO – regardless of fractional-time or full-time – and an effective marketing team care about more than social impressions, email opens and website visits. While those matter, the marketing team must continuously ask the questions “Am I building and delivering a story that communicates our value proposition so new customers can quantify our value? Do our customers understand what we are selling?” These key questions and their answers marketers create lay the foundation for scalable sales platforms and aligned customers.
In short, while you may not need a CMO to get your first customers, the path to building a scalable, sustainable business flows through a CMO.