What’s in a Name? Why the CMO Should Lobby for the CVO Title

For most organizations value comes from customers. And if you subscribe to the teachings of Peter Drucker, you believe that the only purpose of a business is to create a customer.

Drucker believed that only two things matter when it comes to creating a customer: innovation and marketing.  Classic marketing training posited that to create a customer Marketing owned 4 P’s: Product (the offer), Price, Promotion (the content, channel, and touch points), and Place (the means by which customers purchased the product).  Let’s take the conversation down one more path – marketing’s purpose.  Per Phil Kotler, Marketing’s purpose is to find, keep and grow the value of customers. In summary our logic chain is:

1.  Marketing and innovation are the two most important functions for creating customers.

2. Customers drive company value.

3. Therefore, Marketing drives company’s value.

Of course this logic is true only if Marketing is actually creating value. Decades of research have found that only about a quarter of marketers actually serve as value creators and that these value creators have mastered six fundamental marketing performance competencies:

1. Alignment

Ensuring marketing activities and investments are aligned directly to business outcomes.

2. Accountability

Selecting the right metrics, integrate performance targets, and produce actionable dashboards

3. Analytics

Deriving insights from data and use these insights to foster fact-based, data-driven decisions at the business and activity level. They use predictive analytics and developing models.

4. Automation

Engineering and implement the systems, processes, and tools to operate marketing like a business.

5. Alliances

Forging deliberate and explicit partnerships with Sales, IT, and Finance.

6. Assessment

Focusing relentlessly on continuous improvement.

If you are a CMO in this group consider changing your title from one that is functional to one that is more descriptive of your role, and most importantly, your contribution – Chief Value Officer.  Jeez, it’s just a title, what’s in a name? Does it really matter as long as we get the job done?  Yes, it matters.  Titles acknowledge expertise and contribution.  And this title distinguishes Marketers who have made the transformation from those that are primarily focused on sales support or program development and execution to creating value. Think about it, wouldn’t you rather be thought of as a value creator than the person who “makes the pretty marketing stuff.” Companies invest in value creators. In comparison, people who make pretty things are perceived as costs.

With that said, it’s important to know when to take a stand and when to back off.  It might seem like pushing for a title change is one of those times to back off.  I’d like you to consider taking the stand.  If you decide to pick up the torch, here are some steps to facilitate your efforts.

1. Prove Your Value

You can’t just assume that the organization recognizes your value.  You need to prove that you are having impact and are contributing to what matters to the business.  The metrics you choose and the dashboard you create are key.  Value creators focus on metrics that reflect their contribution to market share, preference, innovation/product adoption, and of course customer value. If your metrics are still about measuring your team’s efforts (how many webinars you held, or campaigns your produced) or about you and your team’s outputs (how many people came to the website, the response rate to a campaign), or about you and your team’s efficiency (cost to acquire, cost per lead), move up the metrics hierarchy to outcome based metrics.  Create a dashboard that shows the relationship between marketing activities and investments and business results.  Make sure your dashboard is actionable, that you can use it to make investment and strategic decisions.

2. Make the Case

Once you have the metrics and dashboard in place and you are able to communicate how Marketing is “moving the needle,” you have the ammunition to articulate why this is a better title option. Many companies are adopting more descriptive titles all around, for example, the VP of Sales in some companies is the Chief Revenue Officer.  The VP of Service is adopting the Chief Experience Officer title.  Organizations are receptive to the idea of an alternative title as long as you have the data to back it up.

3. Present the Benefit

Frame the request for the title change in terms that explain how it benefits the company.  Changing the focus from marketing to value in your title tells your leadership team that you are willing to be on the hook for creating value for the company, customers, and other stakeholders.  It sends a message about the purpose of marketing throughout the organization and to your team.

4. Onboard HR

Bring your Chief People Officer into the conversation and work with him/her to update the job description, the duties you perform and the purpose of your role to incorporate the value creation components of your work.

Would you like to know how you measure up when it comes to creating value to your organization? Participate in the 14th Annual MPM Survey and discover what Best-in-Class marketers are doing to become value creators.

Want more info about the survey? No problem 😉

The study is open until March 22nd and focuses on five key areas:

1.         The best practices employed by marketers for proving the value of marketing.

2.         Which metrics marketers are selecting and reporting on the marketing dashboard.

3.         How marketing organizations are performing   and where they are on the path toward serving as a Center of Excellence.

4.         How well marketers are going using data and analytics to make strategic and investment decisions.

5.         The utilization of the marketing ops function.

Previous study participants find the results serve as an excellent opportunity to learn:

•           How your marketing performance capabilities stack up compared to your peers.

•           How well marketers are proving the value of marketing.

•           How relevant marketing and marketing data are to the C-Suite.

•           What Best Practices marketers are using to manage and report on performance.