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Is the digital age distracting the CMO?

Disha Kathuria
17th Feb 2017
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The CMO of yore (when there were no CMOs) stormed his brains with marketing experts at advertising agencies to come up with whacky, sticky, unforgettable ad campaigns.

Those days, it was all about building an interesting and engaging story to be told to the TG that was not as distracted as the ones of today. The world, today, has changed. And with it has changed the role of the CMO. Regardless of these changes, the human need to look for value in every penny spent has not changed in the consumer. In fact, it has only increased manifold with ample tech tools being launched to empower the new-age, digital consumer.

SHUTTER

Image : Pixabay

While technology can help both marketers and consumers, what will make the bond stronger is the marketers' insights into the human psyche to create interesting, relevant, and engaging campaigns that can reach the consumers using technology as a platform. Here are four factors that can distract the digital CMO from coming up with interesting and relevant marketing campaigns, and get him trapped in the rigmarole of the digital world.

More divisions in TG

The digital age has, on one hand, connected the world like never before. On the other, it has identified more divisions in TGs, making marketing challenging than ever. The need to tailor marketing messages to specific groups cannot be emphasised enough in today's scenario. This alone is a challenge for CMOs. Not only are they expected to create marketing messages for specific groups, they need to also take care of the prevailing sentiments of the group, too. Keeping track of happenings of these smaller worlds can lead to loss of focus on building and sustaining the core brand message.

Jan Gooding, group brand director at Aviva and chair of LGBT charity Stonewall, says that many businesses lack a clear understanding of the experience of minority groups.

Diversification of media channels

With the proliferation of media channels, the conundrum of form over substance and substance over form is left unresolved. More time is being spent on customising brand messaging for the various digital media channels. Since the form (various media) more often than not is rigid, the substance (brand message) has to be remoulded, and this leads to dilution of brand image in the long run.

According to Jess Burley, global CEO of The&Partnership’s media agency m/SIX, “Traditional media channels work because of their glorious inefficiency, reaching lighter category buyers which marketers are happy to ignore yet critical to brand growth. Faced with the potential to target exactly the right people, most marketers view social media as a brilliant addition to their media mix. But in their relentless pursuit of a narrow target audience, many social media campaigns are sacrificing broader reach for efficiency.” (as stated by Marketing Week)

Networking within the organisation

CMOs, today, are required to study not just the market. They also need to observe the dynamics of their own organisation to glean insights and to collaborate. The CMO of today is more of a coordinator and less of a marketer. The challenge here is to strike the perfect balance between coordination, collaboration (with other departments), and finally, their core expertise – marketing.

“CMOs have to move beyond the chief ‘marketer’ in their title,” says Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Sheryl Pattek. “They should step up their influence in the C-suite to become a full corporate officer while understanding the business influence they have. CMOs who have evolved in that way are being tapped for CEO in some leading organizations,” (as stated by DMN)

Catching up with the rapid digital transformation

Many age-old practices of marketing are being dropped overnight to make way for the digital transformation. In such scenario, CMOs are under pressure to familiarise themselves with the latest from the world of digital technology. New technologies are being introduced and implemented (by competition) at a higher frequency, giving no time for CMOs to complete the learning curve, and no time to focus on their core job.

“We see people wanting to measure this information, wanting to measure marketing analytics, wanting to do it both historically and in real time –but it’s the biggest challenge because of all the disparate, fragmented databases that are out there.” says Stewart Rogers, Director of Marketing Technology at VentureBeat.

In conclusion, the debate between form over substance and substance over form needs to be addressed at once by the marketing community. According to a study conducted in Britain for Marketing Week, most consumers believe the marketing industry is failing to represent the diversity of life in 21st century. Marketing is primarily about making life better for us humans. In more ways than one, it is a human-interest profession. Technology can help make our lives better – as long as CMOs are clear of its role and gain control of its powers.

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