THERE is never a a best time to talk about Marketing. It is such a prevalent continuum that some times decision makers take it for granted. But Marketing enhances brand value and sales. After all that talk about metrics, marketing acumen is still the priceless talent innovative corporations seek. Recently, I spent some time talking to CMOs across the industry and what keeps them awake at night. First off, I want to qualify that I am assuming the broad definition of CMO in the Malaysian context, i.e. GM, Marketing; A&P Managers; MarComm Managers, etc. Here are some of their challenges...
TALENT. From management-calibre candidates to those with relevant product experience and/or leadership/people skills, talent is a major bugbear. And it doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. In fact, the talent crunch in the marketing industry is so bad they poach from ancillary industries like advertising and PR.
ROLE IN THE BOARDROOM. Unless the person in charge of Marketing is also the owner of the company, Marketing is at most times seen like an expendable investment. While this perception is fast changing, with digitisation showing up the power of the consumer across all facets of product/service touch-points, I believe more deserves to be done to accord the right stature, recognition and standing for CMOs in the major decision-making processes affecting the corporation. Somehow, this observation is also unavoidably related to point number one. Which may mean that tomorrow’s CMO will need to have a holistic understanding of the business they are in. You can see that leading MNCs like Unilever and P&G take this seriously as their key managers rotate across multi-departments in their exposure. I believe a CMO with a financial background will win the day.
VICTIMS OF THEIR OWN MAKING. They are to blame for not branding themselves accordingly into a position of demand. Some of them are also not harnessing technological advantages that can empower and jettison them into pivotal decisive roles in corporations. Most times CMOs appear to be ‘extremely busy’ in low productivity activities like micro-managing and justifying their efforts to procurement. Unfortunately, CMOs also mistakenly expect ad agencies and other supporting external partners in the marketing mix to suck up to them, or do everything at their beck and call, hence undermining their own credibility making it counterproductive to judge true ideas with non-bias clarity.
MOVING FORWARD. Talking about investments in technology or the right partners, I think customisation is key. Any technological solution must be reflective of their individual needs and flexible enough to be amortised across offices or projects to justify investment. I also think a partner who can continue supporting and growing with the client will be the most important ally in this relationship. And don’t forget most times CMOs do not know what they want, since technology is so ahead of what they can humanly catch up with...so winning their minds with coached guidance will help.
I believe that the most successful CMO is the one who aligns himself with the CEO.
And eventually becomes a CEO!
Like RHB’s Renzo Viegas who has now moved into a CEO role at CIMB, or Colgate-Palmolive’s John Hazlin who now runs the Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei offices and of course the rising star - Dutch Lady’s Rahul Colaco who leaped from CMO to CEO in blistering time!
This is what the coming Malaysian CMO Conference on June 14 is all about. See you there!