Mar 14 2019

The New CMOs? Chief Growth Officers

by Dan Gardner via MediaPost

The once-typical consumer journey has become a labyrinth, a veritable competition for attention. At the same time, new startups with innovative solutions to consumer problems are popping up every week. Organizations not prepared to roll with the punches of disruption find themselves scrambling to keep up as modern marketing becomes increasingly fragmented across channels, platforms, and markets.

Just like the customer journey, the role of CMO has changed dramatically in the past few years. Its functions were historically geared toward a specific type of output, consumer response to that output, and the measurement of that response.

Today, CMOs are responsible not only for campaigns and messaging but also for the ever-changing metrics, data, products, and services that can drive value and decisions. CMOs deserve a transformation that allows them to better accomplish the ultimate goal of driving value and growth that goes beyond mere brand awareness.

This shift in focus toward enhancing consumer experience across fragmented markets has led many effective CMOs to evolve into chief growth officers, a role that provides more accurate context for their added responsibilities. CGOs focus on long-term growth rather than the short-term, objective-based goals of their CMO counterparts.

As a hybridized position, the role should encompass awareness experience and post-purchase experience — plus everything in-between — as well as behind-the-scenes insights. CGOs connect marketing, services, data, technology, customer experiences, and revenue.

Prominent brands like Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, The Hershey Co., Hyatt Hotels Corp., and Kellogg Co. have added CGOs to their C-suites — sometimes by trading out CMOs entirely.

No matter the title, CGOs require an evolution of responsibility from the traditional CMO role. The position makes growth a priority through consumer experiences — a concept that is vital in a competitive, ever-evolving world. CGOs must juggle omnichannel relationships with consumers across multiple technologies and platforms, spanning numerous touch points throughout the consumer journey. The digital strategy becomes the thread that brings fragmentation together to create smarter and more efficient experiences that will evolve over time.

The best-case scenario for companies that don’t adopt a CGO mindset is that they miss out on growth opportunities. But the worst case? Those companies will concede any differentiating advantages to more agile, holistic competitors. Essentially, they lose out.

The shift away from traditional marketing and toward comprehensive growth strategies will continue to gain momentum. The simplicity of execution that marketers have chased for so long is simply not enough to court modern consumers. With the combination of increased competition and the ability to interact with consumers through more means than ever before, brands must start prioritizing and strategizing for growth.

As more CEOs and C-suite counterparts see value in CGO-type roles, CMOs will need to develop growth-based mindsets and expand their definitions of what falls under their purviews. Only by evolving beyond the old mindset and embracing new technologies (and the new relationships those technologies make possible) will marketers confidently survive this transition.