Marketing in the middle - a C-suite game?


The Economist Intelligence Unit recently published a report that highlights some C-suite dynamics that remind me of that childrens' game "monkey in the middle." The report details multiple ways in which surveyed CMOs believe one thing about the role of marketing in the company, and then their other functional peers (CIO, CFO, etc) believe something else about what marketing does / should be doing.

A great summary of that report can be found in a post on the SAS Knowledge Exchange, titled "CMOs are swimming upstream." After reading that summary and the report itself, it struck me how that lack of clarity might be costly for some companies facing big data challenges, which are usually driven mostly by customer data. At the recent NCDM conference, Altimeter's Brian Solis described how marketing is now a fundamental driver of IT spending in the enterprise, which spells trouble for companies that do not fully appreciate the role of marketing as steward of customer data and how marketing influences the activities that generate that data.

Curiously, the non-marketing executives had different views on what marketing's top priority should be versus how to best track return on marketing investment (ROMI). 60% surveyed said marketing's priority is driving revenue growth, entering new markets and finding new customers, but 50% favored measuring customer satisfaction when it came to tracking ROMI. Other results that leave me wondering about the non-marketing execs surveyed include their views on functions they think the CMO has no role in: formulating pricing strategy (11%), selecting new markets to enter (12%), shaping customer service (10%), and deciding on new IT investments (31%).

The biggest disconnects, however, and the main reason for the title of the report, are those between the CMO and the non-marketing executives. A great summary of that aspect of this report is outlined in this other SAS Knowledge Exchange post, titled "There's a disconnect between CMOs and the rest of the C-suite."

One conclusion of the report is that success [for the CMO]will be determined by the CMO's ability to align the marketing function around delivering a superior customer experience across all channels. Additional details around that conclusion are provided on page 7 with extra details from Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, who believes that every single customer experience is a brand moment of truth. Based on that statement, I was not surprised to find that Steve's background is in marketing and he describes himself on his Twitter profile as a "Former Army guy and history geek with a passion for marketing."

You can read it for yourself in the EIU report, provocatively titled, "Outside Looking In - The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-suite" and draw your own conclusions. Take a look and let me know what you think.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I held a number of marketing roles at SAS as Content Strategist, Industry Field Marketing and as Go-to-Marketing Lead for our Customer Intelligence Solutions. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions, and sometimes challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I am an avid downhill snow skier, hiker and beach enthusiast. I stay busy with my family, volunteering for civic causes, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and get by with passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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