Accenture examines the changing CMO role with new podcast

The fast-changing nature of the chief marketing officer role is the focus of a new podcast from Accenture called Marketing Disrupted. “The role of the CMO is no longer just anchored into marketing,” says Brent Chaters, managing director of Accenture’s digital customer and marketing transformation practice. “Marketers are now being asked to drive performance and outcomes.”

An Accenture study from earlier this year found that innovative CMOs are generating shareholder returns up to 11% greater than their peers through the delivery of “hyper-relevant” customer experiences.

Chaters is co-hosting the podcast alongside renowned tech expert Amber Mac. The seven-part series features interviews with leading CMOs/business leaders, including TD Bank Group’s global CMO Theresa McLaughlin, McDonald’s Canada vice-president and chief technology officer Lara Skripitsky, and OLG CMO and vice-president of brand and marketing, Randy Weyersberg.

Topics include how CMOs have adapted from what was expected of the traditional career path; how marketers can use Google to shape their creative messaging while understanding the importance of data privacy; and the role of corporate social responsibility in reinforcing purpose and building brand trust with customers.

The Message spoke with Chaters to ask about the changing role of the CMO and some of the key topics discussed in Marketing Disrupted.

Collaboration is key

Perhaps one of the most visible manifestations of the changing role of the CMO is the need for collaboration between the chief marketer and other C-suite leaders.

“It changes the dynamic [CMOs] have within the entire organization,” says Chater. “[CMOs] are literally becoming the hub of outcomes. They’re not just [overseeing] marketing: They’re responsible for experiences and they’re responsible for the customer not just through acquisition but through product use.”

The short lifespan of a CMO

According to a 2017 study by U.S. executive placement firm Korn/Ferry, the CMO has the shortest tenure of any C-suite executive, about 5.3 years. However, the study also found that the average CMO tenure across many industries—most notably life sciences and consumer industries—is just three years.

Chaters says this is largely due to “ambiguity” about the role of the CMO, particularly as roles like chief growth officer and chief experience officer have emerged in recent years. “CMOs have to start to define what they want to represent and how they’re going to be impactful within the organization.”

On the rise of purpose-driven marketing

While purpose-driven marketing can help drive conversation and awareness, Chaters says it doesn’t always translate into sales.

As with so much of modern marketing, Chaters says its success requires authenticity, particularly as consumers are becoming increasingly savvy at detecting misalignment between what a company says and what it does.

“If company X makes a statement around corporate social responsibility, it’s very easy to go online and see what they’re actually doing about plastic or the environment or work conditions,” says Chaters. “If you’re not truly taking a stance, consumers call it out and it can backfire. It’s important for brands to be true to their core values. It should be something that comes not from marketing, but the organization.”

What does it all mean

The seventh and final episode of Marketing Disrupted, “What does it all mean?” is dedicated to best practices for today’s marketers, how CMOs must evolve to survive in the fast-changing marketing environment, and predictions for the future of marketing disruption.

There is a new language that marketers need to learn, says Chaters. So while the fundamental aspects of marketing are still relevant, the way consumers ingest and act on information is constantly evolving.

“If you think marketing is just advertising, you’ve got a problem,” he says. “[For instance]  you need to understand the role of PR because of the conversation around SEO and search. There’s a new language that all marketers need to adopt.”

Why a CMO podcast?

“I firmly believe that Canada is home to some of the best marketers in the world, and this gives us an opportunity to create a platform that allows us to spotlight what we’re doing here,” says Chaters.

“At Accenture we’ve got access to the C-suite, and an opportunity to help drive the visibility in terms of what Canadians are doing as a whole and raise their profile,” he adds.

“Our core audience is either current marketers or other CMOs, so we can’t have people going in an talking about algorithm. We wanted to have practitioners talking about the things they’re doing today and interweave it with some larger thought leaders that aren’t as deep into the core marketing but are leading voices in the space.”

The podcast has already garnered approximately 4,000 downloads from more than 30 countries, and was number one in its category on launch day and recognized in the new and noteworthy category on iTunes.

Chris Powell