3 key qualities for the evolving role of the CMO


Hi everyone! I am Jim Hiepler-Hartwig, the newest member of the SAS Customer Intelligence marketing team, and I am happy to be a new contributor to this blog. In previous roles, I've held positions in both sales and marketing, and much of my focus in the last few years has been on manufacturing and consumer packaged goods. My hope is that I can bring some of those experiences to bear on the perspectives I'll share in my posts where I'll explore what's on the minds of enterprise marketers today.

In the last few months, I’ve been working on the sponsorship of a CMO series with Argyle Executive Forum, which brings together senior marketing executives from very large companies for thought leadership sessions in various cities.  I've had a chance to attend the forums in San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago, which put me in a great position to listen and learn about what's on the mind of CMOs today in these great cities. It's been fascinating, especially since some recurring themes have emerged related to both the challenges and successses of today's CMO's. What I've heard can be distilled into 3 key qualities for the evolving role of the CMO:

Be a change agent
Today's CMO needs to be comfortable at driving change among his/her peers in the C-suite and throughout the enterprise.  This is a marketing imperative because change has become a constant for companies of any size in any industry.  In order to drive change, the effective CMO should be willing to take risks, and be innovative in leading the enterprise to operating with the customer in mind, or risk leading the organization to a place among fallen stars, such as Kodak, Circuit City, or Blockbuster

Be in lock-step with the CIO
Today's CMO must be comfortable with technology almost to the point of being as knowledgeable as the CIO. The world of the customer is digital, online and social - generating mountains of data points for marketers that are just begging to be made sense of. And in a time of increasing need to demonstrate accountability and ROI, it's never been more important to use customer analytics to find the answers in the data. So for for gaining the necessary insight to be a responsible steward of strategy, today's CMO needs to be in lock-step with the CIO.

Heed the customer
The same factors driving the CMO-CIO partnership are what's changing the dynamics of how to heed the customer, or in more modern terms - manage the customer experience. Today's customers are not only interacting with your organization across multiple channels, they have an expectation that you know them intimately across all the channels. They engage you on the phone, in person, online and sometimes on multiple channels simultaneously. Then they influence your brand with social interactions across multiple platforms. Heeding the customer has always been central to marketing effectiveness, but never more so than in today's digital-social world.

Some of these same themes have been nicely laid out by my colleague and fellow blogger, Wilson Raj.  He recently spoke to Argyle about this very topic.  His view is that the CMO needs to become a business-driver in terms of now looking at marketing as a profitable growth engine and as a competitive advantage, and not just a communication vehicle.  Another factor is how the CMO is dealing with the proliferation of data (massive amounts of structured and unstructured data) and how they are hoping to gain customer insights tying both together.

If you're interested in more detail, click here to read a document by Argyle that summarizes his views. In the meantime, please share your thoughts and ideas with a comment below and thank you for following! You'll be hearing more from me over the next few months on this and other marketing topics.

Thank you for following and leave a comment to let me know what you think.


About Author

Jim Hiepler-Hartwig

Senior Marketing Specialist

I am a senior field marketer for Customer Intelligence at SAS, and I am excited to be a part of marketing’s evolution from primarily an art form to a mix of art & science. My experience spans outside sales, sales management and marketing so I share perspectives from both sides of the fence. I also worked for other major software companies throughout my career. I feel that there is no better time to be in Marketing! It is so dynamic and ever changing making it the best place to be in a career. I make it a point to learn something new every day! I live, work, and play as a native of Chicago so you can call me a “City Boy” anytime. I enjoy camping, church leadership, community work, dogs, exercise, music, nurturing our youth, traveling and volunteering. I live by the FISH philosophy- Be There; Make Their Day; Play; and Choose Your Attitude. I strive to make this world a better place for generations to come. Thanks for following me! You can also find me on Twitter at @jfhartwig or LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jim-hiepler-hartwig/1/baa/225 .


  1. Congratulations on your first blog Jim. Very interesting and so true. As a customer using multiple vehicles of communication with a company, I definitely do expect them to know me and to know what I'm interestered in. In the past, that seemed difficult but in today's world with all the technology we have available to us it shouldn't be. If a company doesn't have a clue and the offers they're senidng me are not of interest to me, I really don't have much interest in dealing with them.

  2. Jim,
    Thank you for posting! I especially enjoyed the part about what's changing the dynamics of managing the customer experience, or how you nicely put it-'how to heed the customer'.
    Regards, Amanda

  3. Great summation, Jim. The three imperatives you highlighted all deliver on a CMO's ultimate misison: to create, deliver, and maintain an exceptional brand. The more successful CMOs are reframing brand considerations from a communciations POV to a more analytics-oriented, business-differentiator one.

    SAS is excited to be discussing these brand considerations in one of the upcoming Argyle CMO panels in Boston in November: http://www.argyleforum.com/Events/2012-Chief-Marketing-Officer-Leadership-Forum--Boston/Topic-Imperatives

    Thanks for the post, Jim!

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