Big Q CMOs: Marketers operate in a very-complex environment
by MarkLives (@marklives) Is there a new C-suite executive on the horizon? Is it time to redefine the role of the CMO, possibly by agreeing that the roles of CMO and CTO are aligning and need some level of collaboration? And can this result in more-effective growth strategies for organisations? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. Next up is Masego Motsogi of Ninety9cents (99c) Johannesburg.
Once tasked with managing communications and brand, the modern CMO’s role has been expanding to include technology, data and impact (ie sales and the bottom line). Where this is not the case, anecdotal evidence suggests shorter tenures, and a loss of prominence and clout at board level.
Masego Motsogi (@masegom) is the managing director at Ninety9cents (99c) Johannesburg. Her career in advertising and marketing spans over 15 years, having worked at Ogilvy & Mather, The Jupiter Drawing Room, South African Breweries and FCB Africa before joining 99c. She has a degree in community and health psychology and a higher diploma in integrated marketing communications.
In today’s ever-changing, super-malleable world, it is expected that professionals must have knowledge and understanding beyond their immediate ambits. Things have become more fluid in how the human race operates and this has mostly been aided by the advent of technology and an expanse of information that is available to the general populace.
The key to success
For one to survive, it has become important to be conversant with many ideas and concepts. The key to success, however, is the ability to keep an eye on many areas while simultaneously remaining deeply focused on one’s core discipline. The same may be said about the role of chief marketing officers.
Previously, the marketing team would have succeeded by understanding the 6 Ps of marketing, expanding on them in a logical way and feeding those to the business — and as they say — Bob’s your uncle. The 5 Ps (product, price, promotion, place and people) enjoyed ample attention from the marketing function. The process part of the model, which we know from marketing 101, enjoyed the least amount of consideration and was often delegated to the relevant department, and only hauled out when it was a requisite. But things have changed since then.
The world is moving at a much-quicker pace. The consumer has access to an incredible amount of information and this makes for a more-knowledgeable audience. There is a plethora of media through which to reach the consumer. There are countless products and services on offer. International boundaries have also been broken, so there is little opportunity to contain disasters around brands if they do occur. Yet opportunities abound for brands that affect people positively; the impact is huge and makes for global success. All these factors make for a very-complex environment in which marketers operate.
Other points of connection
Beyond the complexity and speaking to customers through media such as TV, radio, print and outdoor, it’s essential that CMOs and their teams consider other points of connection that will offer a deeper and meaningful conversation with those whom they are targeting.
Cue information technology (IT), which falls under the 6th P of marketing referred to earlier. The advent of technology has largely meant that businesses are not only sustained through the brick and mortar form but also operate commercially on electronic platforms. These are intricately linked to the IT run through the company.
With the convergence of functions, a fast-paced world and consumers who are inundated with multiple messages, it is up to marketing teams to ensure that their messages are not lost and so customer relations management (CRM) and digital marketing efforts have become an integral part of the marketing mix in that, through them, more substantial and directed messages can be passed on to consumers.
E-commerce has also become an integral part of the consumer’s journey, when they shop for what they will.
Additionally, both CRM and digital marketing are deeply linked to the IT function and require that marketers have a thorough understanding of its workings. Marketing is no longer seen as a mere cost-centre, where companies’ funds disappear into a black hole and, when it’s time for reporting, the sales team alone is answerable for the numbers.
Previously, it may have been incumbent for marketing executives who work in technically focused environments to have a good grasp of the IT systems of a company; however, because many companies are merging their everyday business with e-commerce, it is only beneficial for marketing outfits to understand how IT impacts on the business and, in turn, the services and products that they offer to consumer.
Remember what we are here to do
Given the increased responsibility for marketing to deliver good returns on investment through sales and to also ensure that their brands’ and companies’ reputation remain intact, their professional capabilities need to include an understanding of IT so that informed decisions may be made around more-relateable marketing efforts.
Be that as it may, we always have to remember what we, as marketers, are here to do.
I often lament the fact that we’ve forgotten what it’s all about — culture. It’s about shifting perceptions and making a difference that no chief information officer or chief financial officer or any other chief in the business could necessarily deliver — a connection to the hearts of the people.
Art or science
One of the debates we tackled earnestly during my earlier studies was the conundrum around marketing and advertising, and whether these disciplines were either an art or a science. I assert that it is certainly a combination of the two. Marketing serves as the conduit to the art (heart) element, with intentional efforts to constantly keep up to date with people’s moods, shades and feelings, so that marketers may preempt solutions while applying data to how those solutions are presented for maximum effect.
Marketing’s role has grown to drive sales more than ever before. But marketers also recognise the need to speak to the hearts of people. Solutions need to rooted in what people sense and feel, but work that works needs to be delivered. It’s a simple premise but one that many struggle to deliver on: the balance between heart and the numbers, in whichever form they need to be resolved.
Perhaps the role of the CMO is not necessarily changing but rather adapting to the ways of the world. Those who look beyond their immediate discipline are likely to be quicker to respond to consumer needs, both in the form of ability to speak to them more appropriately and with more-innovative products.
- Big Q CMOs: The new pressures faced by today’s CMOs — Luca Gallarelli
- Big Q CMOs: Is there any more room in the C-suite? — Wendy Bergsteedt, Yegs Ramiah & Glenn Gillis
- Big Q CMOs: The changing role of the CMO — Bandile Ndzishe
- Big Q CMOs: Changing CMO role an opportunity for agencies — Johanna McDowell
- Big Q CMOs: The CMO’s role in today’s technically advanced world — Prakash Patel
Launched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the ad industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of potential panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.