Why You Need to Think Like a Chief Growth Officer

CMOs are failing more than they’re succeeding at supporting the objectives of their organizations.

No surprise then, that there are dozens of examples of CMOs getting the boot in favor of a leader with growth and digital expertise in their resume. It’s been making headlines for several months now. At least a dozen, if not more, of the major consumer brands, including Johnson & Johnson, Uber, Lyft and Hyatt Hotels are ousting their CMO’s in favor of Chief Growth Officers or a hybrid of Demand Marketing and Digital Executives plus a Chief Revenue Officer. But why?

The Current State of the CMO

The CMO role is still incredibly prevalent across organizations – with over 70% of the Fortune 500 companies including the role in their organizational structure. But expectations and responsibilities from organization to organization vary greatly. Universally, the CMO is an executive with organizational responsibility over positioning, promotion and driving preference (including customer service). But while some CMOs are measured on creating preference, others are tied to driving growth and performance. There is a large class of CMOs with a background in and focus on driving outbound communications, advertising and moments of activity (clicks and open) and others using data science, analytics, automation and personalization to deliver true engagement throughout an entire purchasing lifecycle. Needless to say, these varying roles and expectations have created friction between marketing and other business executives as companies continue down the road of growth-focused, digital transformation initiatives.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by ANNUITAS of B2B sales and marketing leaders across a variety of organization sizes and vertical audiences, 72% of business leaders feel CMOs are measuring against the wrong goals. This is a number that can’t be ignored.

It’s Time For a Change

A recent article in Forbes Magazine summarizes this point well:

“While marketing’s job security may not be in dire straits yet, there is cause for alarm, with over 60% of marketing leaders sharing that their primary C-suite communication challenge is demonstrating marketing’s impact on financial outcomes. That’s just it: The expectations of the role of the CMO have changed, yet we keep justifying marketing as if the “M” alone is the answer to creating, sustaining, or even branding a successful business in this age of the customer.” 

To support organizational growth, today’s CMOs need to think like, act like and become Chief Growth Officers. They need to shift to a business growth mindset – and ensure they have the people, process, content and technology aligned to deliver superior customer experiences and financial impact to the business.

The expectations of a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) are significant and require a perfect blend of art and science. Thinking like a successful CGO starts by being fueled by delivering performance instead of preference. It means understanding how to automate while keeping the customer experience as a #1 priority and working in lock-step with sales leaders to define metrics that deliver growth to the organization. And in order to be successful, it means bringing an incredibly varied skill-set to deliver upon the organizations growth goals.

Today’s successful CGO has learned how to integrate online engagement channels into the customer experience, track performance and report on metrics like pipeline contribution and deal velocity while also predicting the conversion rates at key stages throughout the funnel. She understands and delivers upon all facets of the customer experience and is jointly responsible (along with sales counterparts) for delivering predictable, sustainable growth.

As the late Stephen Covey stated in his well-known book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, success starts with having the end in mind. If the goal is to turn marketing into revenue generators, then it is critical to find a leader that is focused on the same end goal and, more importantly, has the skills to achieve that goal.

 What Does Success Look Like for a CGO?

Performance for a Chief Growth Officer becomes quantifiable and objective, quite similar to a Chief Revenue Officer or sales leader. There will be measures around customer success and satisfaction, innovation, and marketshare.

However, as it relates specifically to quantitative measures around demand and demand marketing, the impact on lift – in areas like marketing sourced opportunities, marketing influenced opportunities, impact of deal size, and impact of time in funnel – all leading toward impact on closed/won deals. We discuss the top Demand Marketing KPIs that executives should be measuring in this piece and encourage you to use it as a guide in your own demand marketing efforts.

It’s time to start thinking like a Chief Growth Officer and achieve the growth goals that you’ve set for 2020 and beyond.

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