Friday, April 17, 2009


The challenges faced by the CMO are the problems increasingly faced by marketing as a discipline off late. It has been long argued that one of the fundamental challenges of marketing that has undermined its credibility, threatened its standing within a company, and even threatened the existence of the very discipline as a distinct entity is marketing's failure to quantify its outcomes and justify investments into marketing activities. The three main impediments in this regard are:

(1) Relating marketing activities to long-term effects;

(2) Separation of individual marketing activities from other actions, and

(3) Use of purely financial methods for justifying and benchmarking marketing investments. As such, CMOs are not given the opportunity to participate in the strategic decision making of the company. Two such daunting challenges are:


• Measuring marketing outcomes: Marketing fundamentally differs from other functions within a company—such as finance or operations— in a couple of aspects. As marketing deals with people, their attitudes and eventual behaviours, they are not as predictable as a machine process. As such, there can be considerable time lag between marketing actions and the intended outcomes. Further, measuring these outcomes will have to involve both financial and non-financial metrics. Given these underlying factors, it is often challenging for the CMO to convince the top management of marketing's ability to competently allocate resources and significantly contribute to the company's growth.


• Explaining marketing's centrality in a company: Many companies continue to equate marketing with advertising and sales. But marketing has long evolved from being a tactical departmental function to an organization wide strategic discipline. Given marketers' knowledge about customers and other stakeholders, marketing plays a central role in leveraging the internal capabilities. But to assert such a central role within any company, marketers should be able to understand the different aspects of the company, its strategies, its resources and its limitations. Marketers are usually involved in their own jobs and consequently fail to leverage their centrality in a company. CMOs face an immense uphill task in educating and convincing the C-suite of their capabilities and their rightful status. THE CMO AND THE CORPORATE BOARDROOM Given the rather strong antipathy towards marketing within any company and especially within the top management team, CMOs should keep up with time and optimally utilize every resource at their disposal to address some of the fundamental complaints against marketing.


• Leveraging the new media: Even as the Internet and other new media channels continue to challenge many of the fundamental ways of doing business, it also offers some tremendous advantages hitherto not within the reach of companies. As a majority of the companies compete to create a presence online, they also should establish structures in their websites that would help measure many a marketing variable. Softwares allow companies to track their customers' footprints, the stickiness (the amount of time a customer stays on a site), the click through rate of online advertisements, effective optimization of layout design and feel etc. to measure changes in attitudes, behaviours and so on. These tools can be effectively leveraged by the CMOs to begin the process of quantifying marketing outcomes. These early experiments also allow companies to gradually design their own set of useful metrics. Such an essential fi rst step not only brings credibility to marketing, but also allows marketers to make a strong impression with the top management teams and the CEO.


• Internal training: In order for marketing to rise up to the boardroom level, marketers should be thoroughly able to understand the strategic imperatives of the company across functions and be able to speak the boardroom language. Such a state can be attained through formalized internal cross disciplinary training. Such a training system would allow marketers to understand the dynamics of corporate strategy and also enable marketers to effectively leverage the collective internal resources towards ensuring profitability and optimal results. CONCLUSION this article has raised some very fundamental questions about the way companies should be run in the future. The role of marketing within a company is only going to become even more central as managing customer interactions and co-creating value become the building blocks of any corporate strategy. In the future, the CMO will emerge as the strategic connection between the corporate boardroom, the top management team, the CEO and the customer. Companies should offer the CMO the requisite status and power within the company. Furthermore, companies must create an organizational structure where CMOs can guide the company's vision and mission by integrating the myriad functions within the company. The time is not too far when the success of the company depends on the strength of its marketing and the CMO. Asia has an unprecedented opportunity to elevate marketing to the boardroom level, so that the CMO can take centre-stage in shaping and executing the corporate strategy leading to better shareholder returns.

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