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Forrester has just published their forecasts for 2018, predicting the next year will put an emphasis on growth, hard numbers and data in organizations instead of many of the traditional PR, branding and “softer” targets many marketers had been focused on for years.  In many ways this is an evolution of the traditional CMO role, where’s one need to get more hands-on with data, customer journey and understand their audience.

Interestingly, I’ve seen similar patterns and trends with startups I work with. This is another case, where startup companies can be used as a predictor of what will happen next to the incumbents and the established corporations. In the startup world, the emphasis on concrete results- sales, conversion rates and growth has been dominant for quite a while.

This day and age, as a marketer, one needs to know his bites and bytes very well, know some of this and some of that, whether its competitive analysis, understanding the respected content vertical and stakeholders, funnel optimization, lead qualification, or understand your customer journey throughout your funnel and product.

The old days of the PR, awareness centric marketers is long gone. Not to say there’s anything wrong or bad about awnless and being brand-centric. But those have to come with concrete KPI’s and plans how to measure, growth and utilize those towards sales and monitory driven goals.

Further insights from the report:

  • Chief Growth Officers (CGOs) will replace CMOs. The rise of the CGO stands as a rebuke to ineffectual CMO. CEOs pressured to lead a force of change during slow growth will bypass numerous CMOs, looking to install executives with broader remits. For example, for a brand like Coca-Cola, this meant sunsetting the CMO position entirely in favor of a CGO, which represents a burgeoning trend CMOs can only abate by leading strategic growth initiatives.
  • Experience will tap advertising resources. It started with P&G and Chase, and now other CMOs feel mounting pressure to achieve more while allocating less to ad budgets. Just as Forrester predicted, a new reality is setting in where CMOs must manage brands holistically, ensuring consistency between brand promise and the experience delivered. This means optimizing ad spend and reinvesting in high frequency, emotion-rich, connected experiences – a mandate for the CMO to speak fluent CX.
  • Marketing’s technology will influence surges. The feverish pace of technology budget for marketing shows no signs of subsiding. Previously many CMOs treated these budgets as carte blanche, buying technology indiscriminately and passing the buck to their CIO peers to handle the inevitable problems such bad habits yield. This will no longer suffice, as rising budgets will come with rising responsibility, and a cogent strategy is the only option.
  • Customers will mediate relationships with brands. Technology once held the promise of closing the distance between brand and customer. But as customers adapt, their behaviors harmonize with intelligent agents like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. The distance grows again. In 2018, both brands and CMOs must begin to conceptualize how to broker a relationship where the likes of Alexa, is the one who mediates access.

These changes should not dissuade optimism. In fact, Forrester views the shifting landscape as an opportunity for ambitious, forward-thinking CMOs to thrive. Embrace these changes, refocus energy on marketing’s role in driving top-line, innovative growth. Be the kind of CMO who positions themselves to lead customer obsessed transformations at their respective firms.

The CEO disillusionment with marketing may just be the impetus for the broader CMO remit you crave – a strategic, organizational, and technological mindset guided by your empathy for a customer who will absolutely demand this level of intention in 2018.