Brand is too important for marketers to manage alone

| January 9, 2019

Chief Marketing Officers need to shift from being brand custodians to brand evangelists, if the marketing function is to maintain its strategic value, according to a new report from Deloitte.

Based on six months of research and in-depth interviews with senior Chief Marketing and Customer Officers across Australia, Reviving Marketing: The New CMO challenges CMOs to question the fundamentals of marketing today and reinvigorate their role for the digital age.

David Phillips, Deloitte Creative, Brand and Media partner, and one of the authors of the report, said CMOs need no reminding that they have the shortest average tenure of the key C-suite roles. Marketing has been transformed possibly more than any other business function, by the digital age, by changing customer preferences and by the shift in power from the business to the consumer.”

“CMOs are often struggling to have their voices heard, with many marketing teams now performing more of a tactical function, rather than customer focused organisation-wide strategy. The role and function of the CMO needs to evolve at a much faster pace to stay relevant.”

Reviving Marketing identifies six challenges for CMOs to address to ensure marketing retains its seat at the boardroom table. Two stand out as particularly fundamental.

Brand is too important today for marketers to manage alone

With the advent of voice and hyper-personalisation, the role and strength of brand has never been more critical for organisations. Yet marketers are struggling to demonstrate and at times understand the value of brand. A recent Deloitte/Facebook study[i] showed that only 17% of senior Australian marketers believe their most important role is building brand.

This is compounded by a lack of appreciation of what brand is and its value across the C-Suite and senior management. Many executives still see brand as logo and marketing a ‘fluffy’ pursuit. In fact, between 30-40% of business value is not captured in management accounting; technology and brand represent the largest proportion of this value. Not understanding the value of brand and the drivers of this value is a huge corporate risk that directors and CFOs must start to address.

To assist in this, marketers must move from brand protector to brand promoter, encouraging broader ownership and accountability of the brand across the business.

“Brand is too important today to be owned by just the CMO,” said Steve Hallam, Lead Partner, Deloitte Digital. “Anyone who touches product, experience, customer, channels, and strategy has a responsibility to brand. Marketers now need to help the organisation understand how the brand operates in all domains, their responsibility in delivering that, and how it is collectively measured.”

The future marketing function must be built around technology, not humans

“The greatest impact we can see on the field over the last ten years is that marketing has become too complex for marketers to manage”, said David Phillips. “The number of variables – such as audiences, channels, creative versions, messages, and performance – cannot be understood by marketers alone.

“Marketing audience strategy, media planning and buying, creative optimisation, service design and CX, and audience prioritisation all require a level of understanding analytical agility beyond the capability that exists within most firms.”

At the same time, organisations have invested significantly in technology and digital capability. Yet, because of a need for rapid, digital specialisation, many have strong demarcations between digital and marketing teams, which inhibits cooperation.

“Of all of the marketers we interviewed, all believed there was a lot more that could be delivered from their technology,” said David Phillips. “For marketing to take its place as the accountable strategic function it needs to be, we need to structure marketing functions for machines first and foremost and let the humans complete what the machines can’t.

“Leadership, growth, collaboration and connection, creativity, and deep qualitative insight generation – this is where marketers should be focusing their time and letting marketing machine learning or cognitive marketing do the rest.

“There is a widening gap between those who understand and are embracing the advent of cognitive
marketing, and those that are resistant. Just as car companies have used robots to transform their manufacturing process, so must we embrace the automation that is coming and let the humans fill in around the machine, rather than vice versa.”

Reviving Marketing also challenges CMOs to:

Reimagine the metrics of attribution

  • CMOs must use more variables, bigger data sets and machine learning to better understand the impact of marketing investment and improve marketing accountability to the board
  • Areas in which all marketers can make substantial efficacy and performance gains include governance, data mastery (personalisation), brand safety, supply chain efficiency, agency contracting and management, tech stack utilisation, optimisation and reporting.

The risk of not taking risks

  • Marketers are faced with a catch 22: be impactful but take no risks. Most though understand that it is impossible to make an impact on their customers while being completely safe – the two ideas are incongruent
  • The agency client model also needs to evolve over time with the marketing function but these decisions need to start with asking the questions: what is the output and delivery of our marketing function? What roles support this? What do we have to be responsible for and who is best placed to deliver?

Forge a new path as the great connector

  • The most important function the modern marketer will play within the organisation will be to connect all aspects of the business – product, service, and technology. Marketers are best placed to unite the whole business behind the customer and brand. They have the skills and the lexicon to be the great connector.