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Customer-obsessed marketing

Predictions 2018: Visionary CMOs Will Focus On Growth And Customer-Obsession

Keith Johnston
Vice President, Research Director
November 6, 2017

With the waning days of 2017, a fresh start emerges. CMOs again begin to plan their personal affirmations to revitalize from a draining year. Headlines awash in ad fraud, brand safety concerns, data privacy debacles, and the threat of Amazon dropping into a market near you has caused tremors, shuddering your role. Numerous teachable, though far from fond, moments will allow us to look to 2018 with new insight, aware and ready for the challenge.

Growth defines this 2018 narrative, and not just business-as-usual growth; CEOs expect disruptive growth. As firms grapple with the indefatigable pace of change driven by today’s customer, executives are scrambling to serve ambiguous expectations. This will intensify the pressure on CMOs in the New Year to prove their merits as catalysts for change or suffer the effects of organizational complacency.

As outlined in Forrester’s 2018 CMO predictions, Forrester predicts that:

  • Chief Growth Officers (CGOs) will replace CMOs. The rise of the CGO stands as a rebuke to ineffectual CMO. CEOs pressured to lead a force of change during slow growth will bypass numerous CMOs, looking to install executives with broader remits. For example, for a brand like Coca-Cola, this meant sunsetting the CMO position entirely in favor of a CGO, which represents a burgeoning trend CMOs can only abate by leading strategic growth initiatives.
  • Experience will tap advertising resources. It started with P&G and Chase, and now other CMOs feel mounting pressure to achieve more while allocating less to ad budgets. Just as Forrester predicted, a new reality is setting in where CMOs must manage brands holistically, ensuring consistency between brand promise and the experience delivered. This means optimizing ad spend and reinvesting in high frequency, emotion rich, connected experiences – a mandate for the CMO to speak fluent CX.
  • Marketing’s technology will influence surges. The feverish pace of technology budget for marketing shows no signs of subsiding. Previously many CMOs treated these budgets as carte blanche, buying technology indiscriminately and passing the buck to their CIO peers to handle the inevitable problems such bad habits yield. This will no longer suffice, as rising budgets will come with rising responsibility, and a cogent strategy is the only option.
  • Customers will mediate relationships with brands. Technology once held the promise of closing the distance between brand and customer. But as customers adapt, their behaviors harmonize with intelligent agents like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. The distance grows again. In 2018, both brands and CMOs must begin to conceptualize how to broker a relationship where the likes of Alexa, is the one who mediates access.

These changes should not dissuade optimism. In fact, Forrester views the shifting landscape as an opportunity for ambitious, forward-thinking CMOs to thrive. Embrace these changes, refocus energy on marketing’s role in driving top-line, innovative growth. Be the kind of CMO who positions themselves to lead customer obsessed transformations at their respective firms.

The CEO disillusionment with marketing may just be the impetus for the broader CMO remit you crave – a strategic, organizational, and technological mindset guided by your empathy for a customer who will absolutely demand this level of intention in 2018.

Related Forrester Content (For clients or purchase)

Predictions 2018: The CMO Bar Rises With More Pressure For Growth
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