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The CEO is the new CMO

In the olden days, marketing consisted of 4 P’s (Place, Price, Promotion and, of course, Product). The old marketing approach of the 4 P’s made perfect sense, as each P defined a critical part of what ultimately made a product or service sell. And that really has not changed much at all in today’s world.




“Price” is still a powerful weapon (sometimes of mass destruction), as is “Product” (if you’re in the food industry, tell me you haven’t started looking at a vegan version of whatever it is you make). “Place” is the somewhat challenged description of where the product is sold, and finally, “Promotion” is the wholly inadequate descriptor for everything that is a touch point in today’s fragmented media world.


The 4 P’s described the full arsenal of weaponry at the disposal of each CMO. But as I work with major, global marketers, it has become clear that the CMO in today’s C-suite is no longer in charge of much that determines sales success or failure.


Let’s start with Product. In many companies today we find a Chief Product Innovation Officer, who deals with anything to do with the product. Their departments are in charge of consumer insights (including consumer behavior and psychology), design, trend-watchers and so on. They determine the sound of the exhaust system of your car; they determine the ingredients in your oatmeal (“NEW! Now Vegan!). In short: they decide the magic mix of ingredients or components which will accelerate sales.


Obviously they also need to be aware of the impact of the options on cost, which brings us neatly to Pricing. This is now the domain of either the Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Finance Officer. They are assisted by the Chief Manufacturing Officer or Chief Logistics Officer. Their challenge: How can we manufacture or create our product or service in the most efficient and expedient manner?


Once that is figured out, the Chief Commercial Officer gets involved. This person is in charge of understanding all the sales channels and lead generation as well as managing relationships with the key sales partners. This person has a voice in pricing, packaging and activation at point of sale and consumption.


Finally, once all this is figured out we arrive at the CMO, who in this model is really the Chief Communications Officer, charged with how to best connect the consumers to the product along the path to purchase.


The CMO task in this model is not easy, and the role is certainly part of marketing. But Marketing (all 4 P’s together) in today’s fragmented world is now clearly a task for the broader C-Suite, so putting marketing in the title of just one person within it seems wrong and outdated.


I guess the conclusion must be that the true CMO today is the CEO. After all, the CEO is ultimately in charge of how all the strategies and plans come together and drive performance for the company as a whole. The CMO isn’t.


There is nothing wrong with this evolution. We just need to change the labels (a job for the Chief Product Innovation Officer!), as well as how we measure performance of each of the players in this eco-system. Where this model does go wrong (often!) is when all these functions are silo’s working in a linear fashion instead of as one connected marketing organism. But that is a post for another day.

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