A shift in control is creating new challenges for Marketing

“Digital has shifted the balance of brand control towards the consumer. The Chief Marketing Officer is now expected to do more than blanket customers with brand awareness and messaging. Now they must collaborate with other departments to place the customer experience first, right across the full range of traditional and Digital channels including social media.”

Often that “experience” needs to be dealt with in real time, as would a real conversation. Take the case of a cashpoint failure by a major bank. In the past that would have led to a lot of complaints, to be handled in retrospect, and the outside chance of an adverse news headline. Now, within minutes, the problem is trending on Twitter.

“In this scenario,” suggests Lucinda, “the CMO is faced with a two-directional issue to address. They need to manage the expectations of the consumer. But they also need to collaborate with the operational functions within the firm that looks after cashpoints and perhaps call centres. This integration role is new and demanding. Some of the consulting growth we are seeing stems from helping Chief Marketing Officers and their teams to understand how to manage it to deliver a seamless customer experience, as well as ensuring that their range of external agency partners (and their own in-house team) contains the right mix of expertise they need.”

Chief Marketing Officers' relationships with Chief Information Officers (increasingly rebadged Chief Digital Officer) and Chief Finance Officers is also deepening. “Managing brand and marketing issues in the Digital Age needs new technology and also new capabilities. CMOs need to work with CDOs on getting the best technologies and analytics in place to understand their consumer and their brand’s performance. They also need to work closely with CFOs to get marketing technology requirements in the budget.

Lucinda echoes the view of many across the industry that success for firms in understanding customer perceptions and marketing opportunities is a function of understanding their data. “This is about Big Data, of course. But actually within the Big Data haystack, what firms may be looking for is a small data needle –crucial piece of insight, in a tweet, in a blog, or even in something one of their own staff said, something that allows the business to see itself in a new light.”

Businesses are getting hungry for this sort of information. Roth Observatory International helps brands identify and work best with agency partners that can help them navigate this digital landscape. But there are also new, exciting, but little-known enterprises out there who are highly conversant with digital analytics. “One of our most exciting projects recently was with Starcount, a new online platform that aggregates fans’ social media content related to celebrities or brands. We’re helping them source an agency partner to highlight their digital data proposition to clients in ways that the increasingly hard-pressed CMO can understand and put to good use.”