Four key ways CMOs can thrive in a technology driven marketing landscape


The days that a CMO can operate solely within the confines of a traditional marketing sphere are well and truly over.

As technology changes the way consumers interact with companies, a CMO must become a jack-of-all-trades, incorporating a profound understanding of the digital space, financial matters and consumer trends, in order to stay ahead of the pack.

While the role becomes increasingly nuanced, there are four key things that a CMO must do to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

1. Be flexible

It’s not enough to rely on the traditional means of consumer engagement. While traditional means, such as advertising are still a very powerful tool, a CMO must understand how to combine the old ways and the new in order to create maximum excitement and buzz for their brand.

A brilliant example of this is the AAMI Rhonda and Ketut campaign.

The romance between russet-haired every woman Rhonda and the Balinese resort worker blossomed over the course of several television spots and captured the hearts of Australians everywhere.

Momentum increased with a savvy social media campaign that incorporated YouTube, (the content had over ten times the viewership of its closest rival), Twitter (the hashtag #rhonda went viral) and Facebook.

Such was the allure of their love, that fans even independently made their own pages:


This page, Sexual Tension Between Ketut and Rhonda had over a hundred thousand likes at its peak.

According to Ogilvy, the agency behind the campaign, AAMI:kiss_ketut.jpg

“... experienced an increase of over 20% YOY in new business opportunities in the period of October 2011 – December 2013; an astonishing increase in a mature market with relatively no growth.”

What Ogilvy did particularly well in this campaign was allow the public to own the characters and the brand. As general manager, Michael McEwan said:

“We actually got out of the way of it. We didn’t try to control it, we didn’t try and restrict it.”

Their willingness to unmoor their creation into the hands of the public demonstrated not only a comprehension of the power of various platforms, but a flexibility that allowed them to change the course of the campaign and let the conversation explode.

2. Be multi-lingual

Not only will CMOs need to be able to know how to effectively use technological platforms in order to communicate their message, but there is an increasing demand for CMOs to understand a more technical language.

This doesn’t just include being able to navigate these platforms, this means to have a good working of the systems themselves.

A Gartner report suggests that in 2017 CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs. Therefore, being able to code, to interpret analytics and to anticipate the value of emerging technologies will be very desirable traits.

However, it is not enough to have a working knowledge of these mediums. A key component of the role will be to interpret the data that programs generate and to use this information to convey value to clients:

“The big shift happening for marketing is moving it from a cost centre to a revenue generator. Data is fueling that revolution. Marketing will no longer be that fuzzy activity many others in the corporate structure view as fluff.”

Integral to this idea is the fact that CMOs are also going to need to be able to interpret financial language.

Given that many campaigns have significant spends, it will be increasingly the responsibility of CMOs to manage these budgets. To do so, will incorporate risk management, a keen understanding of finance and an ability to prioritise media buying and technology investment.

Which leads us to the third essential criterion:

3. Be creative

Given this increasing demand for financial accountability, CMOs will need to know how to maximise all available assets.

As the above Rhonda and Ketut example demonstrates, if you can generate momentum, then you can exploit that to create free exposure:

Despite spending no extra money in media, advertising awareness also hit a record high of 72%, compared to the IPSOS norm of 33%.

However, assets in this instance don’t just include the budget or the platforms you can use, they are also the people you hire and the relationships you develop to the way you can reuse content.

As former Samsung CMO, Steve Cook says:

“The CMO will need to learn what it’s like to move fast and do things on the cheap. The future is, after all, about doing more with less.”

4. Adapt or perish

All these changes culminate in a CMO needing to be adaptable. If they can be flexible, can communicate and can be creative then they have all the tools they need to adapt.

This doesn’t just mean the current technological climate, it means being open to all potential changes that will inevitably occur during their tenure. If they can master this then as Peter Sena, founder of Digital Surgeons sums it up best when he states:

“The CMO of the future will fear no man, beast or technology”

Like the archetypal boy scout, the CMO must be prepared for whatever challenges come their way, whatever the nature of those challenges.
CeBIT Australia Digital Marketing Report