As a long-standing CRM consultant and more recently, as interim Head of CRM for an automotive bank, I see how the role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has changed. And yet, how little has changed at the same time.
Let me explain.
Look back at the 1960s, at the writings of some of the giants of marketing, men like the late Ted Levitt, and you will see some familiar messages. Levitt’s seminal 1960 Harvard Business Review article, Marketing Myopia, contains statements like…
“the reason they defined their industry wrong was because they were railroad-oriented instead of transportation-oriented; they were product-oriented instead of customer-oriented“.
Levitt had the foresight, some 40 years ago, to see what was really ailing marketing. Not a lack of great products; powered by growing post-war prosperity and the baby-boom, the 60s was awash with them. Not a lack of great marketing communications; the baby-boomers were voracious consumers of TV, radio, billboard, print and direct marketing. No, simply a lack of customer-centricity.
How little has changed.
Fast forward to a new report on The Evolved CMO from Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles. The report makes the point that for CMOs to develop more influence in their organisations, one of the three things they need to do is to…
“seize the opportunity to lead the organisation towards customer-centricity”.
But according to the report, most CMOs are still focussed on managerial skills like visioning & strategic thinking (No1), people & team management (No2) and building relationships with the senior team (No3). Being the voice of the customer was only No6 in the skills list with less than 50% of CMOs voting for it. And listening and interacting with customers was only No9 in the list!
So there you have it. Marketing is less and less effective at influencing customers. Becoming more effective requires returning to the roots of Levitt’s original customer-centric marketing. So what are marketers focussing on? That’s right, more of the same disfunctional product-centric marketing! Talk about the tragedy of the marketing commons. As the German philosopher Hagel said…
“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”.
What do you think? Is your CMO stuck in his own Groundhog Day? Or is every day a new customer-centric one?
Post a comment and get the conversation going.
Tip of the hat to Francois Gossieaux at the emergencemarketing blog.
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager