Hotwire spoke to Lynda Cavalera, the Chairperson of the Australian Marketing Institute, about the changing expectation of today’s CMO, and the growing impetus to embrace technology and integrated approaches.
HW: Given that their role is changing and evolving so quickly, many CMOs are confused as to what CEOs and business leaders now expect from the marketing function. What broader industry trends are you seeing and how is this having an impact on Australian marketers?
LC: There is definitely more and more being asked of CMOs, which presents a great opportunity for marketing professionals to be elevated to the C-suite and board-level.
We’re seeing technology as a core trend for today’s marketer. The rapid change in technology and its impact on businesses and customers means that CEOs are increasingly looking to CMOs to lead the charge on key digital trends like AI, mobile experience, and automation. Unsurprisingly, more CMOs are hiring technology experts to take on the critical function of managing the implementation and operations of the new technologies, often working closely with the CTO.
Trust should also be prioritised. The last few years has seen a spotlight put on boards and management teams through various royal commissions, looking more closely into how organisations treat customers and whether they are acting in their best interests as well as those of broader society.
We see CEOs increasingly looking to the CMOs and their marketing teams to lead in building trust. This may be everything from ensuring the needs of the customer are embedded internally throughout all functions (including operations, HR, communications and IT) to ensuring the voice of customer is heard in co-creating products, services and experiences.
HW: How will PR and marketing functions continue to intersect, and what will businesses expect more of/less of in the future?
LC: All organisations are structured differently but there has always been an intersection between PR and marketing functions. In some organisations where I’ve worked, I’ve managed the PR and marketing functions under one umbrella, and in other organisations PR and marketing are kept very separate.
Marketing acts as the custodian of the brand which spans all stakeholders. So, while marketing efforts tend to focus on customers and PR on broader stakeholders, the roles of both functions intersect. Both have a role in building trust. Marketers through brand positioning and promotion, as well as customer acquisition and retention activities, and PR professionals through stakeholder communications and engagement.
Hopefully we’ll see less of PR and marketing functions working in silos, communicating different brand narratives or voices in market. In the future, we can expect to see greater alignment in building trust across stakeholder groups. This closer collaboration and communication between the functions will bring stronger focus on customer-centric initiatives that will unify marketing and PR efforts regardless of communication outputs, channel or audience.
HW: What are the functional responsibilities of the modern marketing leader and how has this changed compared to say 5 or even 10 years ago?
LC: Over ten years ago there were fewer marketing professions, whereas today there are over two hundred. A modern marketer can’t be a specialist in everything anymore. A great marketing leader recognises this and how critical it is to have an understanding of how it all fits together, but also how important it is to build expertise within teams. They need to be able to be a leader of experts, empower teams, and also attract and retain talent.
Leaders also need to know how their marketing craft is evolving and keep up-to-date with new trends, technologies, legislative and regulatory frameworks and broader societal changes across sectors. But more importantly they should be an orchestrator of change internally by bringing internal teams along on this journey. Their influence needs to span across the whole organisation. This is an increasing trend that we hear from our members and broader community. No longer can a marketing leader be largely externally-facing—they need to negotiate, influence and win the hearts and minds of their colleagues inside the organisation.
HW: In your opinion, how are Australian companies and their respective marketing leaders responding to changes in technology and emerging MarTech? What is best practice when compared to how companies are currently using these technologies?
LC: We have some excellent examples of marketing leaders who have responded to changes in technology and emerging MarTech. The best practice is where they still put the customer and their people first.
We’ve heard from many organisations who have responded with a technology-first focus and have not been as successful as they would have hoped. They may have bought the best of the best in technology and MarTech solutions, but they have failed to implement these fully, often not realising that many of these solutions require configuration in the actual tools as well as across the suite of tools. And many have underestimated the people factor and not invested in involving and upskilling staff appropriately. At worst, such examples have led to internal chaos, a mass exodus of talented staff, and missed opportunities.
Conversely, our community has shared best practice stories where there is a more pragmatic and well-planned roadmap for technology and MarTech implementations, which includes their staff in co-creating new workflows, along with proper support and training by management.
It’s strange when we hear organisations say that their people are their best asset, but yet often manage the technology and MarTech change very poorly ending up with disgruntled staff, and very talented professionals are pushed out or leave of their own accord. Change here needs to be managed by marketers who put people first and know to lead them.
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