Forbes “30 Under 30” on What’s Next for Today’s CMO

Racepoint Global

Written By: Amanda Nadile – Account Director and Meghan Windle – Account Executive, Racepoint Global Boston

Boston played host to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, a meeting of the minds for young entrepreneurs, visionaries and disruptors across a number of different categories. There were many standout sessions, but we can’t help but keep thinking back to what we heard during the marketing content track.

To close out the morning of all things marketing and media, moderator and Forbes Editor Jennie Rooney welcomed three distinguished marketing executives to the stage. These folks are part of the publication’s brand-new CMO Next class, which consists of 50 marketing chiefs who are redefining the role and shaping the future. The three CMOs on the panel were Sophie Bambuck of Converse, Melina Engel of SimpliSafe and Jackson Jeyanayagam of Boxed.

They shared many sentiments and played off each other expertly, but one of the most important things they agreed on relevant to our role as communicators is that the role of CMO is changing. And it is evolving as drastically as the industry itself. To put the change in the marketing landscape into perspective, Scott Brinker created a graphic showing the 150 solutions available to MarTech professionals in 2011, in comparison to 6,829 solutions in 2018. There’s no question that’s A LOT of change for the CMO, requiring a lot of learning on the many tools and channels a marketer has at his or her disposal today to reach their target audiences.

Knowing this, the “30 Under 30” panelists addressed whether there was a more fitting title for marketing leaders today. Chief Marketing Officer is a “weird” title, someone said. Is Chief Culture Officer, Chief Growth Officer or even Chief Synthesis Officer more appropriate? This discrepancy around the head marketer’s duties to an organization appears to be pervasive across the industry. In fact, earlier this year, Deloitte published research that explored the mismatches between expectations and reality in the CMO role. Namely, “CMOs are expected to play an enterprise-minded role in organizations, but often don’t have the authority and responsibility to be effective.”

While the exact definition of the CMO role today is still up for debate, one thing everyone agreed on was their most important objective on behalf of a brand: to inspire and influence. After all, CMOs are the ultimate brand shepherds – charged with building excitement around and consideration of a brand.

Here’s what else communicators should take away from trends and talk points at the Under 30 Summit:

  • Be Data Inspired for the Sake of End Users’ Needs: In the age of data, it’s easy to be swept up by the numbers without remembering the needs of your customers. Each of the CMOs on the CMO Next Panel noted the importance of data, but really highlighted the need to verify it against end users’ needs. While this has been an important tactic since 1985 when Coco-Cola first introduced “New Coke,” it’s an important reminder as companies increasingly rely on quantitative data.
  • Build Excitement for Your Brand Internally and Externally: Along the same lines, the CMO internally needs to be the voice of the customer, making sure everything they’re hearing from end users’ is internalized by the company. Externally, the CMO is tasked with effectively communicating the brand’s values to build support from not only its customer base – but its entire constituent base. Remember, you have a voice – even if you can’t sing, you need to use it.
  • Be Authentic: In addition to the high-profile brand marketing representatives we heard from on the CMO Next panel, there were a number of celebrities and high-profile individuals present, that are influential within their respective fields, such as Olympian Adam Rippon and actress/comedian Esther Povitsky. They trumpeted a similar message as the CMOs on a more personal level – whether you represent a large global brand or are building your own personal brand, you must remember a few things: be authentic, know what you value, and ask yourself questions (and often) to make sure you’re operating against those values on a day-to-day basis.

Bottom line, when it comes to marketing – whether on a corporate or individual brand level, know your brand values, take your audience’s needs into consideration, trust your instincts, and be your brand’s best champion. Success will follow.