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B2B Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) Must Change

by Jennifer Beever on April 21, 2009

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have high turnover (average tenure is 18 months), and good ones are hard to find. What makes a good CMO in today’s challenging B2B environment?

The answer is that a good CMO has the ability to change and adapt to the new way buyers purchase products and services and to new marketing technologies. Selling products and services is no longer a function of pushing a great brand to the target audience with traditional ads or direct mail. Customers buy products based on testimonials and referrals from people in their networks, which are increasingly online (Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

An article by David Court back in August 2007 titled “The Evolving Role of the CMO,” The McKinsey Quarterly, called for CMO change. According to Court, CMOs who used to spend the majority of their time on brand management (brand creation and brand awareness campaigns) so they could push their message out to their audiences, need to spend more time understanding their customers and creating and maintaining a credible online presence.  Now with today’s dwindling marketing budgets and with even more use of social networking to share information, this need for CMOs to change is critical.

I saw an interesting video interview by Gerhard Gshwandtner on Selling Power TV that supports this. He interviewed Mark Sellers (Mark couldn’t have a better last name!), who wrote the book The Funnel Principle. According to Sellers, the old sales funnel that focuses on the steps the sales person had to take to close a sale (the sales cycle) is obsolete. The new funnel is all about the customer buying process and is called the Buy Cycle Funnel. Critical buying behavior according to Sellers is when the customer recognizes the problem and feels pain, and when the customer commits to buying a solution. CMOs need to study customer buying behavior and provide support for the new Buy Cycle Funnel.

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