How today’s CMO can navigate the future of marketing

How today’s CMO can navigate a future of marketingAs consumers living in the digital age, our expectations of how we want to be marketed to have shifted, just as speed to innovation has created a world where change has become the norm. Today, great marketing happens at the convergence of human understanding and technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The future of marketing sees the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role as one that’s evolved to become synergistic to an organisation and its individual departments. So how can today’s marketing leaders navigate a world that’s constantly changing on the technical and behavioural front?

At CeBIT Australia 2018, Tamara McCleary, CEO of marketing and digital consultancy Thulium, shared her thoughts on the changing remit of the CMO, and her approach to marketing in the digital age.

The rise of the all-rounder CMO

Marketing is no longer just about how you’re going to spend your ad budget to get the best results – it’s also about understanding how to use complex systems and turning the insights you get into actionable information. And that’s why, McCleary says, the remit of the CMO is ever-changing.

As Jamie Matthews says: The modern CMO must shine in an ever-changing and increasingly challenging workplace, in a role that is in a constant state of flux. Essentially, it’s because of Big Data – customer expectations and technological innovation are combining to pile the pressure on marketers to showcase skills that were never required of them just a few years ago.

McCleary has a model she proposes will assist CMOs to manage this constant state of flux, and to move forward with CLARITY:

  • Context
  • Leadership
  • Affiliates
  • Relationships
  • Integration
  • Technology
  • Y is it we are doing what we’re doing?

Context is key

Consistency is key to having a unified brand voice, but context is more important now than ever. For example, as Generation Z comes of age and becomes the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020, marketers will need to consider their context - life stage, background, motivations and generational drivers in order to gain mindshare. And yet, marketers must do this without alienating other audiences - which is why such contextual marketing is key.

McCleary says this is where data is essential, because it helps CMOs gain clarity into how their brand messages are relevant and compelling across generations, which channels work best to reach specific age groups, and what types of content will guide audiences down their respective buyer journeys.


It used to be that sales people held all the knowledge about a company’s products and services, and consumers needed them to get information and make important decisions. Our parents and grandparents, for example, once had to go to the bank to seek financial advice.

Today, the power for information gathering and decision-making is firmly in the hands of the consumer. Thanks to the internet, consumers are no longer beholden to sales people and advertising messages to become informed. Not only is there ample information about managing wealth, making good investments and diversifying your portfolio yourself, there are now more convenient alternatives to going to the bank for your advice. Virtual advice centres, for example, deliver wealth management, banking and mortgage advice to customers digitally - and on demand.

The internet has delivered so much more power to the consumer - who will now thoroughly research their problem before going out to find a solution. This means marketers need to provide value in the form of information that is relevant, valuable, and that assists the customer to solve a problem.

McCleary says that brands that focus on casting customers as the heroes in their own [buying] journeys - that help them solve a problem with information and support as well as good products will naturally become the thought leaders that consumers turn to.


Businesses have historically been cautious about sharing information among perceived competitors and the industry for fear of having their intellectual property stolen.

McCleary states that the demand for seamless engagement over various touch points (online and offline) is challenging this school of thought. CMOs now ask: “Should we try to keep all our knowledge and do everything ourselves? Or should we share our knowledge and then leverage the help of partners to a mutual benefit?”

McClearly explains how Powerhouse brands like Salesforce have an ecosystem of partners in their network to help augment the value of their products and services. They invest in these partnerships, and one benefit of doing so is that they also enjoy access to their partners’ customers in the long run.


While many organisations still fear social media for potential public backlash, negative legal implications, bad publicity and other risks, today’s brand building demands engagement and participation. The advertising age is past, McCleary says, and brands have to create relationships by showing their authenticity and responsiveness on digital channels.

Global consulting form Mercer participated in and led many conversations at the 2018 World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in 2018. They published various videos of their discussions on the future of work online, which helped them to become a part of the conversation that had over 4.8 million followers on Facebook and 3 million on Twitter, McCleary states.


As marketing and technology merge to improve customer experiences, brands attract new customers and delight existing ones with digitally-forward content.

Aussie winemaker 19 Crimes for example, used augmented reality to market their product to Millennials – consumers using their smartphones to hover over the wine bottle label could see the pictured convict come to life and reveal his story.

It was a move to diminish the ‘wine talk’ that may be intimidating to some wine drinkers. And it worked – 19 Crimes was named Market Watch’s 2017 Wine Brand of the Year and sold over one million cases in the US in the 2017 financial year.


CRM and marketing automation tools are already considered basic marketing technologies; brands that truly want to stay ahead of the digital game need to be able to choose and use the right technology, McCleary says.

Defining your tech stack is not just knowing what you use, it’s about understanding how every piece of technology contributes to your work and gets you the insights you need to continually improve your offerings and provide a better customer experience.

BlackRock’s MarTechropolis for example, illustrates the cyclical process the firm uses to iterate on marketing strategy and execution:

  • Discover City — defining the opportunity, value, or user
  • Concept Park — defining the direction or idea
  • Plan-Ville — assembling the team and prioritising work
  • Do Town — executing on the vision and plan

martech-tropolisSource: chiefmartec

Y is it we’re doing what we’re doing?

Last, but absolutely not least, we must always check in on why we’re doing what we’re doing, says McCleary.

Are we contributing in a way that is meaningful and purposeful? Every minute counts, and we need to care about people first.

CMOs hold an ever-increasing amount of responsibility (especially as the custodian of data), but no matter how much the marketing world relies on technology to improve the customer experience, McCleary says the human perspective comes first - in life and in marketing.

As author and futurist John Naisbitt put it, “the most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”

As marketing evolves, so the reliance on marketing technology grows. The No-nonsense guide to streamlining and integrating marketing technologies explains how to make the most of that technology. Download it today.

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