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The CMO’s Dilemma: Focus on the Customer, But at What Cost?

By Anna Maria Virzi | August 24, 2017 | 0 Comments


For this year’s CMO Strategy Survey, we set out to learn about the current state of marketing organizations, including the scope of responsibilities and capabilities.

One message is loud and clear: CMOs are going all-in when it comes to their focus on the customer.

Consider these points:

• Customer experience design, customer retention and growth, and customer acquisition are among the top capabilities considered vital by CMOs.
• Two-thirds of respondents also say their organizations are effective or very effective at delivering in these three areas of customer marketing.

We often talk about benefits of a strong customer focus and how it can deliver benefits across brands of all types. A strong focus on the customer and CX strategies is a good thing, right?

Keep in mind: there’s a price to pay if the focus is too intense. Like staring at the solar eclipse too long without protective glasses, CMOs could lose their vision. Why? Customer experience investments need to produce returns. Otherwise, CX will be cut in favor of performance marketing programs that produce immediate returns.

There are warning signs that CMOs are not paying sufficient attention to operational excellence, which in turn, will impact marketing’s investments in customer experience. Only slightly more than half of all survey respondents said their marketing organization is effective in handling two staples of today’s marketing organization: acquiring and using marketing technology or using marketing and customer analytics.

The survey also indicates challenges CMOs face when it comes to defining their strategic remit in the organization – an going challenge. “Too often CMOs either go broad, setting their sights on large, and often amorphous concepts like CX, or narrow, getting granular on campaign or channel performance,” explains my colleague Ewan McIntyre. The result: strategies that are either too vague to be actionable, or too operational to be strategic.

See “CMO Strategy Survey 2017: CMOs Go All In on Customer Marketing, but at What Price?” for the survey findings and recommendations;  see “Use Gartner’s Marketing Strategy Framework to Build Accountable, Actionable Strategic Plans” to assist with goal setting, situation review and more.  Gartner subscription required.

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