CMO 2.0: How to Pick the Right CMO for the Digital Age


A study by Whitlier and Morgan found many CMOs core competencies are underdeveloped for the digital age.

It’s not so surprising.  After all, personalized online shopping at Netflix and Amazon and programmatic ad campaigns have changed marketing more in the past few years than marketing changed in the previous 50+!

As a result, most marketers still create marketing campaigns targeting a mass audience. This is a major disconnect, as most consumers — thanks to Netflix and Amazon — want personalized experiences. No wonder so many companies are struggling to succeed in the digital age.

Unfortunately, there’s no “quick fix.” The fact is, the proliferation of new marketing technology tools has dramatically changed the required core competencies to be successful.

Because of this learning curve, requiring a strong commitment from marketing leadership, few CMOs and their marketing organizations are able to take full advantage of big data, predictive modeling, and create a martech stack that will enable them to deliver personalization at scale.

What’s the solution?

The key to surviving this disruption requires a new kind of marketing leader, with the right core competencies to craft a vision and strategic roadmap for success.  A Chief Marketing Officer must have deep experience and a track record of success engaging with data, predictive modeling, technology, and brand building to maximize rapid growth.

Put simply, this new age of digital marketing is “targeted marketing on steroids.” The fusing of data analytics with the ability to deliver personalized content in the right digital form blends the principles of brand marketing and direct marketing.  The pool of CMO candidates with that broad skill set is severely limited. Thus, most companies are stuck doing 20th century marketing in the second decade of the 21st century.

CEOs must hire a CMO who has core competencies in three areas: predictive modeling, martech stack creation, and content personalization at scale. The CMO will then be fully equipped to change marketing in three ways. First, marketing will need to shift their organizational structure to an agile ecosystem of internal and external partners. Second, they must scale personalized content through predictive modeling. And third, they need to build out a best-in-class martech stack with an open architecture that is future-friendly due to its Lego approach to connectivity.

How to orchestrate this new digital marketing ecosystem?  The traditional notion of managing a roster of a single media agency and a few creative agencies is obsolete.  The digital marketing world features “omni-channels” requiring capabilities in SEO, PPC, social, programmatic, email, retargeting, and content management, all of which need to be closely coordinated to be effective.  Experience using dashboards with KPIs, and predictive modeling to deliver personalization at scale with agile brand management is mandatory to be an effective CMO.

All marketing associates must function as an interconnected “agile ecosystem.”  The real complexity comes in orchestrating all the team members into behaving in an agile manner.  For this model to work, the agile operating model is a must.

Why is it important to get a CMO with the core competencies mandated by the digital age?  Getting personalization at scale right through predictive modeling will:

1) Reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent

2) Lift revenues up 30 percent

3) Increase the efficiency of marketing spends by almost 30 percent

4) Deliver the experience consumers demand

Disruption is the new normal. As a result, getting the CMO selection right is critical to great results.

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