8 Strategic Imperatives for C-Level CMOs


C-level CMOs are business drivers, business strategists, and business leaders.  While the CMO title is sometimes tossed about cavalierly, the role mandate is to actively contribute on both a strategic and executional level.  Buzzwords like social media, mobile, cloud, systems of collaboration and the like can obscure the criticality of what happens on a strategic level.  In this vein, let’s consider the challenges and changes facing today’s strategically minded C-level CMO.

1.  Business Strategy: This determines your reason for being, where you will compete, how you will compete, and what sets you apart for long term success.  As the customer and market expert and advocate, it’s your job to know the target at a very granular level, the compelling reason to buy, whole product requirements, partner/alliance strategy, sales approach, pricing, competitors, and positioning/messaging.   All of this informs business strategy.

2.  Marketing Strategy:  This is all about how you build the go-to-market (GTM) marketing framework, in today’s environment, where compressed planning cycles and the need to react quickly are elevating importance of this competency.  Five to 10 years ago, most CMOs had a strong agency background. Today we are seeing more business-savvy people with a deep understanding of business and marketing strategy.

3.  Communications:  This role has always been about reaching the heart of mind of a prospect within a framework for strategic marketing positioning.  Today that framework needs to recognize how we manage and execute social media and content.  You need to create operational strategies and frameworks that will enable enterprise content strategy and social media operations.

4.  Portfolio Marketing:  This is the place where strategy, marketing, sales, and product all intersect.  Today, the discipline of product marketing is moving toward persona- and solution-based portfolio marketing that will require more enablement than ever before. Portfolio marketing will continue to drive interlock across core enterprise GTM processes.

5.  Demand Generation:  Strategies for demand creation will require closer integration across inbound, outbound, sales-driven, and partner-driven demand. A new demand waterfall and demand center model will become essential to creating a complete and holistic view as well as identifying areas of leverage through shared program execution capabilities.

6.  Market Intelligence:  Intelligence will have to be more comprehensive and real time than ever before.  Vectors including competition (all alternatives including homegrown), market trends, technology trends, socioeconomic trends, geopolitical trends, industry and financial analyst perspectives, and media covering will require new methods to harvest and disseminate critical knowledge across the organization.

7.  Operations: Underpinning all strategic efforts is the need for a framework for marketing infrastructure and measurement. The role of operations is broadening to include the whole revenue performance management suite including marketing, sales, service, and support. Increased investment in marketing automation, CRM, resource management, and collaborative technologies will be required in order to scale operations, enable global processes and provide new market and buyer insights.

8.  Delivery:  Delivery today is a multi-channel, multi-touch endeavor that recognizes that 60% of the buying process happens before a salesperson interaction As such, delivery refers not to a department but a capability within marketing roles – i.e. how we deliver marketing. Marketing delivery is changing at an extraordinary pace, and the way we publish content today will likely be very different from how we’ll be doing it in the future.

Andrew Salzman is a principal with the Chasm Group, a strategic market consultancy founded by Geoffrey Moore and devoted to helping companies transition disruptive technologies into material businesses.  He can be reached at asalzman@chasmgroup.com or 415-812-1925.

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