Innovation and customer experience key to success for CMOs

If you believe that mastering Digital marketing and Web 2.0 are the hottest key success factors for the best performing corporations (those growing faster than competitors), you might have to reconsider.

In a recent survey, Accenture polled 400 marketing executives from US, European, and Asian corporations with yearly revenue over $ 1 billion. The sample included companies with various business models; B2B, B2C, B2B2C.

The survey provides lots of details and is worth reading in full depth (link provided at the end of this article).

The main conclusion is that, in order to support corporations efforts for profitable growth in a sluggish market, marketing departments will have to focus on 4 key areas;
- Improve the efficiency of the marketing operations and the skill set breadth of the marketing team
- Further develop their usage of customer analytics and their strategic focus on high potential segments
- Innovate more in order to ensure customer loyalty and to win new clients
- Put a high focus on delivering a superior customer experience

The respondents also highlighted the absolute need for the marketing team to have a deeper knowledge of the market and of customer needs and wishes, and the necessity of a better collaboration across functions. In addition, acquiring the skills and mindset, and mastering the processes and tools that will drive an enhanced customer experience – and achieving this in an environment where budget are most often flat – is considered as a key challenge by the survey’s respondents.

Of course, leveraging and mastering digital marketing is considered as very important and this area that receives a lot of attention (the opening of this article was provocative on purpose). However, the message of the polled marketing executives is clear; the overall quality and efficiency of the marketing organization, and the consistency of the customer experience across all channels are far more important than achieving punctual leadership in terms of usage of a single marketing technique.

Consistently, the respondents also mentioned the need for them to have a better connection with their CEO in order to handle marketing issues at the adequate level.

What can we take away from the Accenture survey?

The opinion of the 400 CMOs will not come as a surprise to seasoned marketers, but the high focus on innovation and customer experience is quite interesting. If one compares topics highlighted by the polled executives and the nature of the discussions on most marketing forums, one has to recognize that there is a significant gap. CMOs worry about marketing operations, consistency of the customer experience, and team’s skills. The online marketing community talks mostly about how to implement digital marketing and social media. These issues are also on top of the CMOs mind but they are not the most critical ones. A side learning might be that, in order to restore its credibility in the eyes of other functions, the marketing community might be well advised to shift the balance of its public discussions.

Within the frame of this survey large corporations have been polled. By definition these big companies have large budgets in absolute figures and complex organizations with the related management challenges. How can the results of the survey be relevant for small and medium size businesses?

In my opinion, based on working with companies of all size, I would slightly summarize the key learning as follows;

- Building the right marketing organization (even if it is not called the marketing department) and the right way to operate is more critical than the absolute marketing budget figures
- A very relevant and precise analysis of the client base (client segmentation) and of the prospect definition (market segmentation) increases chances of success
- Cross-functional collaboration (marketing, communication, pre-sales, sales, services, even administrative functions) is key
- The quality of the Client Experience (delivery, client service) is at the core of the brand value is a key component of the marketing system
- In today’s economy, the marketing team needs to a broader skill set, and a deep understanding of how and why customers buy

It sounds obvious? Sure! But how close to this ideal world does your own company come?
Please drop me a mail and tell me!

If you want to know more

- Accenture survey for download; http://www.accenture.com/Global/Services/By_Industry/Retail/…

- Upcoming XING CMO event on Customer Experience in Munich on September 16th (in German language)

Uber Olivier Riviere