Just as sure as day follows night, the turn of the year brings a slew of articles pontificating on the forces that will shape marketing in the year ahead. So here’s mine.
However, my colleague Noah Elkin and I got a head start, publishing our document “Understand the 4 Key Themes Driving Marketing Strategies in 2022″ way back in the olden days of December 2021 (note – you’ll need a subscription to read the full piece). In this document we talk about the following themes, and their impact on marketing:
- Marketing’s shifting role in the enterprise
- Customer journey orchestration
- Strategic brand management
- Change and volatility management
In this post, let’s home-in on just one of these themes. Let’s start at the very top, looking at marketing’s shifting role in the enterprise. To do so, we’ll cover three big questions:
Question 1 – Are Marketing, CX And Sales Amalgamating?
Back in December 2020 I boldly predicted that, by 2023, 25% of organizations will amalgamate marketing, sales and CX into a single function. I will now boldly assert that this prediction appears to have been either overstated, or at least premature.
Over the last 12 months I’ve worked with lots of clients helping them address organizational challenges. I’ve come across very few instances where there’s been a formal convergence of functions, with sales and marketing and CX folding-in under a single leader. While there are instances where organizations have adopted emerging leadership roles such as the a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Growth Officers (CGO), adoption of these roles are limited – more of this in question 3 below.
So, whilst there’s been no huge shift towards formal organizational amalgamation over the last twelve months, savvy marketing leaders have always understood that aligning more closely with sales, CX (and other functions) is the smart thing to do. Reducing organizational friction, increasing collaboration and sharing goals across the enterprise is a resolution all CMOs should adopt in 2022. In some instances this may be through the adoption of RevOps (for definition and more info see Amy Abatangle’s great document “RevOps Is Coming to Marketing Operations: Prepare, Don’t Panic”) – in many more instances this collaboration will be less formal. Either way, deeper enterprise connections drive better customer outcomes and support profitable growth.
Question 2 – Is Marketing’s Role As Driver of Enterprise Digital Transformation Diminishing?
In 2021’s CMO Spend Survey I wrote about the how CMOs are ceding accountability for enterprise digitization to other roles, such as Chief Digital Officer (CDO). This was based on Gartner survey data that indicates that CEOs are have firmly placed growth as their top strategic business priority for the next two years, and their sights are fixed on digital business as a path to growth. However, CMOs are not necessarily the CEO’s go-to role when it comes to leading digital growth initiatives.
In organizations where marketing has been at the forefront of transformations, perhaps at the early stages of adoption of ecommerce, this can be a painful experience. However, while CMOs may move from being the “A” on the RACI matrix (accountable), to being the “R” (responsible), they must maintain a powerful voice around the decision making table. To do so, CMOs must play to marketing’s unique value proposition – as the voice of the customer in the enterprise. Digital growth only makes sense when the digital experiences and solutions are focused on addressing real customer needs.
Question 3 – Will Emerging Roles Usurp The CMO?
Returning briefly to the topic of org design, what about all of those shiny new C suite roles, snapping at the heals of the CMO? Over recent years there’s been much discussion on how roles such as the CGO (sometimes seen in consumer goods companies) and CRO (sometimes seen in tech companies) pose an existential threat to the role of the CMO.
Let’s be clear – in limited and specific circumstances it may make sense for enterprises to shift accountability around the C suite. This may be to create greater cross-functional cohesion, or to cement a sense of shared vision across commercial functions within the organizations. And, while this may mean that the senior-most person in the organization accountable for marketing may not be solely focused on marketing (e.g. Unliver’s Conny Braams, appointed as Chief Digital & Marketing Officer in 2020), they’ll still need a structure reporting into them that delivers the specific capabilities and value that marketing does.
Marketing is marketing, no matter what you may choose to call it, or where it reports for that matter. To confuse marketing with other functions, or to degrade the strategic importance of marketing capabilities in securing customer-orientated growth is folly. Furthermore, the Coke example shows that shifts away from CMO to CGO role are far from permanent, as the company transitioned back from a CGO role to a more traditional CMO role in 2019.
Conclusion – Is Marketing’s Role In The Enterprise Shifting In 2022?
The short answer is “yes”. In some respects this shift represents a marketing success story. Marketing has succeeding in selling to the rest of the enterprise the importance the customer, of meaningful brands, and of digitally-focused customer value.
Like any change, this creates both opportunities and threats for marketing as a function. Loss of sole accountability for core programs may be followed by continued budget challenges. Diluted accountability may exacerbate existing issues regarding the perceived value of marketing. However, no function has the unique connection with the customer that marketing has. The challenge and opportunity for marketing in the year ahead is to focus on cementing its position as an essential component, and core connection to customer-orientated growth