The Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma

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Tony Zambito

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J. J. Jackson's Dilemma
J. J. Jackson’s Dilemma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Month after month, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are confronted with a question.  It is a powerful question.  If answered with accuracy and in-depth understanding, it can make a profound difference.  So profound, it will change the fortunes of the organization.

What Is The Question?

The question, if answered correctly, will accelerate a company’s ability to transform and be relevant in the new digital age.  Answered incorrectly, it can put the company behind competitors and start a decline.  What is this question?

Who is our customer today?

This question may appear simple, yet it is the most challenging question faced by CMOs and their companies today.  The last word of the question, today, means much.  This question has become more important because of this word.  The customers and buyers of today are different than those of yesterday.  Plenty has changed.

But, How Do I Answer This Question?

You have made attempts to answer this question.  Discovering how challenging it can be.  You could produce numerous reports.  You could install analytical programs.  You could hire more agencies.  You could conduct more customer surveys.  You could make more vigorous efforts to improve team performance.

The dilemma is you have already done these.  Each has closed the gap just a little.

What Needs To Change?

The dilemma facing many CMOs is getting to know the customer and buyer of today and into the future.  Knowing the customer and buyer of yesterday will no longer cut it.  Compounding this dilemma is most orientation to know the customer and buyer is historical.  Another words, getting to know the customer and buyer of yesterday.

What needs to change is CMOs have to orient towards knowing the customer of today.  As well, become adept at predicting who the customer of the future will be.  Without this perspective, marketing strategy will be rooted in the past while customers and buyers continue to evolve.  Significantly hampering an organization’s ability to grow.

How Do I Make This Change?

The CMO of today and the future must adopt new means of getting to know customers and buyers.  Without it, having the information and insight needed to make sound choices in strategies will be lacking.  Strategy today is becoming largely a function of predicting the future and having foresight.

The CMO of today and tomorrow can change by incorporating these 5 crucial steps into their planning:

(1) Focus On The Buyer Of Today And Tomorrow

The use of customer and buyer insight research is essential today.  This type of research is focused on today and building foresight into planning.  It involves a commitment to objective and qualitative interviewing of customers and prospect buyers.  With buyer insight being focused on changing buying behavior and buyer foresight.  It is time to move beyond surveying and win/loss analysis to insight research.

(2) Focus On Buying Scenarios, Not Solely On Buying Process

While understanding the buying process of customers and buyers helps understand how they buy, they do little for helping us with deeper insight and foresight.  The CMO of today and tomorrow will need to uncover the scenarios playing out in companies today as well as what is likely to play out into the future.  Knowing your buyer stories helps you to move beyond the how and into the why.  From there, you can move beyond why to helping customers and buyers not only achieve their goals, but also see a compelling future of transforming their organization.

(3) Focus On Buying Behaviors For Both Company And Buyer

Today’s customers and buyers are also in the midst of organizational behavior undergoing radical changes.  CMOs will need to have the ability to not only know how buyers are changing, but to also have a pulse on how organizational behavior change is affecting buyers and their buying behaviors.  This means moving beyond the Ideal Company Profile to an Ideal Company Persona perspective to incorporate behavior understanding in addition to profile understanding.

(4) Focus On Improving Team Performance With Company And Buyer Personas

To succeed, CMOs will need to get their teams performing with the customer of today and tomorrow in mind.  The use of personas in general is designed to serve as a communications platform for helping the enterprise understand who their customers are.  CMOs can improve the performance of their teams by incorporating the use of company and buyer personas to help their teams focus on the customer of today and tomorrow.  More importantly, focus on how to make company and buyer personas operational for strategy planning and execution.

(5) Focus on Modeling Both The Quantitative And The Qualitative

Today’s CMOs are looking at an onslaught of new quantitative metrics and analytics like never before.  To make effective use of these, blending the qualitative into modeling predictive buying behaviors and scenarios will give CMOs what they need most.  Which is, foresight into how to help customers achieve their goals as well as help them to gain their own foresight into how to transform.  Analytics alone is not enough.

Answering The Most Important Question

By following these recommended five crucial steps, CMOs today can help answer the most important question of the day.  Who is our customer today?  By gaining valuable customer and buyer insight, understanding the predictable buying scenarios, understanding how buying behaviors are affecting both buyers and organizations, and developing personas (company and buyer personas) will help CMOs to model the customer of today and tomorrow.  And, model strategies, which map to the future customer and buyer.

Many CMOs are faced with this dilemma.  Wondering what needs to change and how to change.  Solving the question of Who is our customer today? is the important question of our times.

(Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you gain more insight into how to solve this dilemma and answer this question.  I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how to to gain understanding of the buyer of today.  Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are trying to answer this most important question.)

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2 thoughts on “The Chief Marketing Officer’s Dilemma”

  1. Pingback: The Gap. Can You Fill It? 3 Ways You Can.

  2. Pingback: Why The Differences Between Buyer Profiling and Buyer Personas Matters | Buyer Persona - Tony Zambito

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