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The New CMO: Entering the Chief Growth Officer Era

The mission mantra for chief marketing officers (CMOs) has always been straightforward: drive growth. Yet only about a third of CMOs actually deliver measurable results. Make 2018 the year you fully deliver by shifting your mindset—and your title—from marketing to growth.

Introducing the Chief Growth Officer

Statistics reveal that companies with senior-level marketing executives perform, on average, 15 percent better than firms without a CMO. Historically, however, accountability for growth has been shared by the C-suite. Now, with nine out of 10 chief executive officers (CEOs) expecting their CMOs to drive growth, that’s beginning to change. This year, more and more companies, like Coca-Cola, decided to step into a new era of growth and accountability by positioning their executive marketers as chief growth officers (CGOs).

CGOs expand the traditional CMO mindset by harnessing the executive marketers’ extensive knowledge of customer desires and demands in order to accelerate growth. This growth-focused mindset goes beyond traditional sales agreements and marketing tactics and leverages existing business models to create new business models and value chains that offer greater profit potential, such as Lego’s transformation of Mindstorms from a toy to a software platform and Nike’s launch of the Nike+ platform.

If you have not yet made the mental leap from focusing on marketing to focusing on growth, don’t despair. As the CMO, you are already almost there. You know how to speak in a way that gets your target market’s attention. You know your brand. You know your audience, and you know how to communicate your company’s vision. Using that knowledge to obtain the kind of sustained growth that CEOs want to see simply requires a shift in strategy.

The Strategy Pivot

For CMOs, strengthening the performance link between marketing and sales is the key to CGO mastery. Securing this alignment requires a strategic shift in mindset and a new set of skills. To make the leap from CMO to CGO, embrace these research-derived key traits for success:

  • Align with CEOs in the belief that disruptive growth is crucial to business success
  • Be in control of disruptive growth levers
  • Spend at least the same amount of time on disruptive initiatives as they do on a traditional growth agenda
  • Have financial responsibility for disruptive initiatives
  • Budget for infrastructure and application investments
  • Understand their target market’s objectives for company products and services
  • Establish a clear customer strategy that reaches across both physical and digital domains and speaks to the customer’s five main priorities
  • Reverse engineer customer experiences for value
  • Understand new and emerging technologies and how they impact existing technologies
  • Maintain ongoing initiatives with non-traditional partners, such as start-ups, in the search for new revenue sources
  • Partner with whole-brained agencies that understand technology and creativity
  • Possess an agile mind that anticipates and quickly acts upon new trends

If you don’t possess all of these traits already, don’t fret. Establishing and embracing a whole-brained mindset will get you there. Instead of simply focusing on brand communication, focus on designing engaging customer experiences and mastering the technology and analytics necessary to deliver those experiences to your target market. Combining artistic experience with strategic analysis is the way to become the kind of whole-brained CMO who gets the results that CEOs expect. 

The Final Milestone: Meaningful Measurement 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. An IBM survey revealed that 82 percent of CMOs feel unprepared to deal with the sheer amount of data driving today’s metrics, but not every metric contributes to growth. Partnering with your marketing team to uncover the metrics that matter is essential to moving forward with a growth mindset. What’s your conversion rate? How much is it costing you to acquire new customers? Go beyond engagement and impression data, and focus on ROI. Once you do that, you’ll generate the quantifiable financial results that lead to true growth and secure your role as CMO/CGO throughout 2018.

Promote On Purpose Team

We accelerate the growth of brands that are innovators and change agents.

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