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OCTOBER 18, 2018 //     

The CMO is evolving: Here’s how we can keep up

Credit: Adweek

By: Lauren Bayse

The modern marketer’s role is complex, dynamic and crucial to drive business growth. Long gone are the days when being a marketer meant serving as a brand “hype woman.” Thanks to the last decade of swift technological advancement, marketers are at the heart of business growth—they are the keepers of data and the connector between brand and audience.

At this year’s Advertising Week NY conference, I heard from a number of marketers across industries who have embraced this new role, but also grapple with their dichotomous friend/foe relationship with technology. On the one hand, technology has given them access to seemingly endless data-driven insights that allow them to more effectively connect with their target audiences in new ways. On the other hand, technology has given birth to an exhaustive list of new challenges, such as achieving brand safety, protecting consumer privacy and upskilling talent, to name just a few.

As communications professionals, we too know intimately the double-edged sword that is technology. For example, we curse the speed with which social media can ignite a crisis, but revel in our newly-found ability to measure top-of-funnel results.

As we navigate the impact of technology evolution, it’s important to remember this should change the way we support and communicate with our clients. Their jobs are changing. And as a result, ours must as well. Here’s how we can start:

Lean into data  

Measuring the impact of public relations campaigns has historically been quite difficult. Many times, we work to build “awareness,” rather than directly convert customers. So, we operate in a gray area that’s difficult to explain with numbers.

That is quickly changing. When I interviewed at Allison+Partners nearly four years ago, I was impressed by the capabilities of our dedicated Measurement team and the agency’s understanding that measurement should be part of every single scope of work. As marketers become increasingly reliant on data to drive decision-making, we need to step up to the plate. It is more imperative than ever that we regularly share success metrics and then use them to guide our own strategic planning efforts.

Speak business  

As communications and marketing professionals, we can spend all day talking about lead generation, reach and conversion rates (seriously, I lost count of how many times “customer journey” was said during Advertising Week). But when a CMO walks into the boardroom to discuss the bottom line, the rest of the C-Suite isn’t going to understand the jargon.

To help our clients more effectively communicate how their “wins” ladder up to business objectives, we need to ask questions that help us better understand how they expect our partnership to positively impact their business. Do they hope to see an increase in job applicants? Increase customer loyalty? Win over more first-time customers?  

Once we have the answers to these questions, every strategy should be delivered with these goals in mind. And we should consistently relay updates that demonstrate how our work is helping the business achieve these goals (sans jargon!).

Assemble diverse teams

Today’s consumers and business decision-makers are more diverse than ever. Despite this reality, our industry hasn’t kept pace. Only 11 percent of creative directors are women, and people of color continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions across the board. There’s a lot of work to be done, but after spending nearly a full day at The Female Quotient’s Girls Lounge during Advertising Week, I feel confident our industry is fostering leaders—both men and women—who prioritize and champion diversity.

It’s an exciting time to work in our industry—we’re seeing it through a period of major transformation. But, the technology revolution is not without its challenges, and to ensure client success, we need to embrace data, understand business objectives and strive for diversity.

Lauren Bayse is a director in Allison+Partners' corporate practice.

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