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5 tips for dominating as a CMO in 2019

Marketing in the digital landscape is fast-paced and can be hard to stand out. Read our tips to dominating as a CMO in 2019

As a C-suite executive, you already know that hard work is one of the most important aspects of career development. The tricky part is knowing what, out of the vast array of options, to focus your energies on. To help, we have reviewed relevant reports and thought leadership articles to draw out key insights for ambitious CMOs.

From understanding more about your company’s operations to increasing your mental fortitude, the tips in this article offer you five core areas to prioritise.

1. Brush up on agile marketing

The 2019 State of Agile Marketing Report reveals that 50% of marketers that plan ‘traditionally’ – creating a plan and sticking to it – are looking to switch to agile practices within the next 12 months. With this, the industry will become more dynamic as marketers work collaboratively, learning from their colleagues and addressing issues by swiftly adapting tactics and messages. This fast-paced but logical approach will achieve better results for both the brand and the customer.

However, marketing leads state that the biggest barrier for switching to agile is lack of education. Without an understanding of how to effectively apply agile practices to your department, you risk being left behind as knowledgeable competitors lead growth and innovation in the industry. To avoid this, start learning as much as you can about ‘agile’: how does it work? What are the common pitfalls? How have similar sized companies implemented the approach? Armed with this kind of expertise, you will be in a much better position to adopt agile marketing and, thanks to your ability to exploit new opportunities and reduce inefficiencies, improve productivity.

2. Know your business, not just its marketing

Accenture research shows that 90% of organisations see CMOs as the glue that holds together various lines of business. This puts you in a unique and powerful position to transform your business across the board, not just within your own jurisdiction. The report also reveals that CMOs who lead their teams to work across departments are more likely to get buy-in from the CEO.

To capitalise on this, get to know your organisation.

“What moves the business? How does the business operate? What are the financial drivers? Answers to these questions require a much deeper level of insight into how sales teams work, what are critical operational considerations, what the supply chain looks like—and more.”

You can’t expect to become an expert in each area of the business – it’s a big, complicated machine – but an understanding of how and why the various ‘cogs’ and ‘wires’ are there will help you work smarter.

3. Use data to improve the customer experience

Knowing your customers – really knowing them – has never been more important or more complex. A report by Chief Marketer shows that while 81% of companies think that they know their customers, only 37% of consumers say that their favourite brands understand them. Data offers the best way to get to know your customers better and on a grand scale.

Ask yourself whether you’re utilising all data opportunities: what do you know about the journey of ‘near miss’ customers? Have you analysed the text comments on review sites? Have you compared daily footfall in your physical locations with average website visitors to see trends or variations?

Diving deep into your data sources is a great way to spark ideas for new products, marketing campaigns and uncover improvements for customer service or your brand’s digital experience. And it works! A study from 2017 showed that using text analytics makes businesses 15% more likely to drive innovation and, when applied to social media, makes them 22% more likely to improve the customer experience.

Chief Marketer also recommends sharing the data and insights you gather with the whole organisation to ensure a customer-centric approach at every level. Brands that share consumer feedback with executives see a 15% increase in sales and achieve “Net Promoter Scores six points higher than those who do not.”

4. Get emotional buy-in early

Disruption is fast becoming the norm. Consumer demand is forcing digital brands to innovate and offer something that’s more beautiful, more intuitive and more convenient than the last big thing. In such a fast-paced environment, CMOs are faced with the unenviable task of staying ahead in a highly competitive game where the goalposts are constantly shifting.

Writing for Marketing Week, Guy Little, Director of Content at Tomorrow People, suggests that one answer is to capitalise on customer loyalty. By gaining emotional buy-in early in the purchase journey, you can create a cavalry of brand advocates:

“Tapping into that deep human desire to ‘belong’ by building a community around your brand is essential, not just to grow followers and your customer roster, but to nurture real supporters and advocates […] Create a reason for belonging and you’ll find that you manage to keep and engage prospects, customers and partners in more effective ways.”

One way to create a reason for belonging is to take a stand on social issues. The 2019 Retailer Playbook states that 61% of customers will advocate for brands that match their social values. So, find out what it is your consumers care about, and make sure your business does too.

A word of warning: a third of 23-38-year-olds will quickly drop a brand that doesn’t meet their expectations. The ‘reason for belonging’ you give to your customers must be genuine. This was a lesson learned the hard way by Gilette, whose January 2019 attempt to align itself to the #metoo movement with its ‘The best men can be’ ad seriously backfired:

“Rather than a work of inspiration and aspiration [director Kim Gehrig] delivers a short film that feels vindictive and accusatory. We are not being shown the better path, we are being told we are all on the wrong one and must change course immediately. Men are to blame. You, yes you. It’s a poor way to sell razors.” Marketing Week

5. Improve your resilience

CMOs have the shortest tenure of all C-suite professionals. Research from 2015 showed that CMOs in the US were most likely to remain in position for 4.1 years (compared to 5 years for a Chief Human Resources Officer, 8 years for the CEO). In the UK, campaign have this year claimed that CMOs have an average term of just 18 months, due in part to the increasing challenge of achieving results with shrinking budgets and growing accountability.

To save your own career from becoming a forgettable blip in the history of your brand, you need to dominate, make an impact. But this is hard to when CMOs are likely to become the scapegoat for stagnating or declining businesses. To tackle this, you need to embrace change and build resilience. Here are some top tips for doing this from

  • Be aware of your ‘inner critic’ and when it’s triggered, resist it
  • Own your mistakes and act quickly when they happen
  • Force yourself to see the opportunities in bad situations
  • Practice stoicism (it’s worked for leaders since 300 BC)
  • Develop a variety of identities: know you are more than your career
  • Build a network and ask for help when you need it.


As digital continues to transform brands, CMOs hoping to stand out could be in for a bumpy ride. But it’s one that could result in an exciting and lucrative 2019, by:

  • Championing agile marketing
  • Investing in data analysis
  • Making yourself an expert in how the wider business works
  • Nurturing brand loyalty
  • Strengthening your mental wellbeing.

Find out how Further can help you to achieve your business objectives by getting in touch using the contact form below.


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