Why you need to give your CMO a seat at the boardroom table


The customer experience is no longer just the realm of marketing – it has become a key competitive differentiator. As a recent Forbes article states, “The customer is in control. Brands need to be more accessible and marketable and so do company boards, not just in terms of corporate governance, but when executing their business strategy and ensuring they are maximising shareholder value”. Marketing must sit at the heart of business decision-making if organisations want to stay ahead of the competition and embrace ever-higher customer expectations. Moreover, the availability of data and analytics has made it possible to assess the impact of marketing strategies on commercial performance, and marketing is increasingly being recognised as a core driver of the business as a result. It’s now in the CEO’s best interest to build a strong relationship with the CMO, and grant him or her a seat at the executive table.

Customer comes first

In 2013, the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) in conjunction with Deloitte published a report titled, ‘Marketing’s Role in the Boardroom: An Evaluation Framework for Boards and Directors’. The paper suggests that CEOs would benefit from a better understanding of the CMO’s critical role in contributing to business strategy as well as to its development and execution. Deloitte CMO, David Redhill, states, “In an era of major digital disruption, where many Australian businesses are responding too slowly to challenges posed by new, internet-based business models, boards need to respond to the increasing power of the connected customer and focus their business strategy and operations on the customer's needs”.

It is through today’s data-driven marketing that organisations are able to discover meaningful insights about consumers, design strategies and offers based on these insights, and deliver them to the marketplace. As such, it should fall on the CMO to drive the transformation agenda across the customer journey and the business. The first step, then, is to give the CMO a clear role in the strategic planning process, as this ensures that the board benefits from having a customer perspective injected into the core planning activities, and that the marketing strategy will be aligned with overall corporate planning and financial objectives.

The problem is, many CEOs fail to recognise marketing’s ability to connect their organisations with its customers, instead dismissing it as a “curious mix of art and science, less manageable than other functions that boards discuss and monitor”. Leaders who hold this view are putting their organisations at risk. As the Australian Institute of Company Directors states, “the businesses being most profoundly disrupted are those that know the least about their customers, while the ones succeeding are the ones building their knowledge of their customers, deriving insights from their markets, and improving their marketing effectiveness and audience engagement through a continuous data feedback loop”. Customer-centric companies have customers who are more loyal and better brand promoters, and typically have higher revenue growth, stock price and market share. 

The rise of marketing

As marketing becomes increasingly recognised as a key business contributor and more organisations realise the need to prioritise the customer experience, the CMO role has the potential to grow into one of the most powerful and trusted in the C-suite. But it’s up to the CEO to raise the CMO’s profile and communicate the heightened importance of marketing to the rest of the business. This requires an understanding of marketing's role on the CEO's part. Start learning by downloading our complimentary eBook below – it explains how marketing can improve your business' revenue generation, and includes a 6-step guide to 'scientific marketing' which you can use to ensure your sales and marketing plans reflect the new buyer centric world in which we now operate.

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Topics: b2b marketing strategy marketing plan business leaders