Will Traditional Marketing Titles Exist in the Future?
Coca-Cola’s CMO retired. There wasn’t a traditional marketing replacement.
Instead, the global beverage giant decided to move in another direction. The company’s executive shake up resulted in the appointment of a newly formed role of Chief Growth Officer. Coca-Cola’s new CGO will be responsible for merging marketing, customer and commercial teams.
Coca-Cola has always been seen as marketing leader. It’s one of those sacred companies that has stood the test of time and is arguably on the Mount Rushmore of brands. Forbes ranked it as one of the world’s most valuable. It’s in stores, theme parks, bars, and movies. The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta is a literal museum to all its iconic marketing efforts. From the polar bears to the shape of its bottle, the brand is recognized around the world. So if Coca-Cola opts to move away from the chief marketing officer, what does that mean for the rest of us?
If the company’s move triggers a widespread fallout for CMOs, what other titles may take the place in the C-Suite?
Here are few trends from the hiring world that may give an indication:
The world around us is changing. Economic shifts can strain long-standing companies that have relied on outdated products or methods for too long. In the wake of the Internet of Things, firms are now challenged with adapting or risk falling behind. How can companies just change? Enter the chief transformation officer. CTOs (not technology officer) are tasked with balancing short-term and long-term value in the wake of change. CTOs can lead the transition to a bigger focus on data analytics, a shift from on-site services to cloud-based, or a move towards customer-centric thinking from a focus on product. Industries that can greatly benefit from this role are ones rooted in legacy systems looking to compete in the digital age, such as energy, health care, and transportation.
The title is pretty clear. CGOs are responsible for growing the company. More customers. More revenue. More market share. More profit. While specific job duties differ from company to company, there is no ambiguity in the purpose of the role. Growth officers can have a wide scope of responsibility, anywhere from overseeing strategy to managing mergers and acquisitions. When The Hershey Company hired a CGO, the role also extended to overseeing research and development.
Strategy might be one of the most nebulous business terms. It’s often misused or mistaken for tactical operations. Essentially, it boils down to the proper position, messaging, and execution to derive a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Marketers have primarily been charged with developing company-wide plans to support the organization’s overall business strategy. Sometimes marketers are included in strategic exercises, other times it’s dictated from the CEO or COO. CSOs help tie in business objectives with results, set accountability across departments, and create solutions for complex market issues.
Most of us relate the CIO title to Chief Information Officer. Today, it’s more likely to be the chief innovation officer. Innovation officers are charged with facilitating a corporate culture of new ideas and strategic change management. It’s also focused on harnessing creativity and design-thinking into actual business results. Most companies today compete on two main levels, price and differentiation. If pricing wars are not conducive to success for your business, then differentiation is your lifeblood. The need for executive oversight to manage and deliver impactful differentiation is the bedrock of innovation. CIOs help build a mindset of new and inventive ways to reach and wow customers.
The customer may not always be right but they are always heard. In today’s on-demand digital economy, the customer can research, refer, upvote, and complain in myriad channels. This stretches across departments, from social platforms to call centers to brick-and-mortar stores. Keeping a unified view—and strategic approach—to the customer experience is mission critical for success in the future. Further, managing customer lifetime value is an important part of building bottom lines. This starts with acquisition but quickly leads to retention and monitoring churn. The rise of the CCO may become one of the most important trend hires for businesses of the future. After all, a company cannot be successful without (profitable) customers.
SaaS companies have continued to evolve in the cloud era. The key goal of a SaaS company is to provide services that are easy to manage from afar, flexible for the customer, and more lucrative as client operations grow. The more SaaS companies that entered the market, however, the more competitive the landscape became. This potentially could result in low brand loyalty and wide revenue variances. As software companies matured, revenue officers stepped in to streamline processes and ensure predictable revenue growth. This role is largely responsible for connecting departments like marketing and sales. The competition between the two disciplines runs deep and can often times be counterproductive. CROs are responsible for breaking down barriers and setting everyone’s sight on the main purpose—revenue.
Regardless of title, the expectation is clear, one must deliver in measurable and demonstrable ways. Bringing precise titles and job descriptions to important roles isn’t a bad thing. In a way, marketing executives should have always spearheaded strategy, innovation, growth, transformation, and the customer experience. The problem is that they’ve been asked to do all of them. In an ever-changing competitive business environment, it might be too tall an order for any one department or leader. Breaking out roles and responsibilities in defined ways may make goals more attainable.
The resulting changes at the top will trickle down to entry and mid-level positions. Titles like growth specialist, innovation manager, and director of customer experience will begin to dominate organizational charts. It’s a good time to begin polishing up on these characteristics as a job seeker. As a leader, it’s important to search for and develop these traits.
Marketers are in transition. The pressure to deliver extraordinary results in complex organizations continues to mount. Whether provided the resources to execute successful campaigns or given the authority to overcome cross-department roadblocks, the bottom-line numbers aren’t going anywhere. You have to show the results of your work.
Call yourself a marketer or a strategic growth engineer. Just make sure you are known in the C-Suite as the Chief Delivery Officer.
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.