Today’s Marketers Are Soccer Players, Not Football Quarterbacks

Grant Caselton Foresight, Guest Post, Leadership, Management Leave a Comment

The business game has changed. In order to score goals with consumers, CMOs need to start thinking like soccer captains. 

Everyone knows that the world is changing at a rapid pace and that it is affecting all parts of business, from supply chains to how consumers interact with brands. Nowhere are these changes more evident than in the C-Suite, particularly for Chief Marketing Officers, who are seeing their roles evolving and expanding.

The traditional CMO used to orchestrate marketing and communications around a big creative idea and then run a few campaigns throughout the year with agency partners. These yesteryears of the Mad Men era also had marketers talking up a product that was created in R&D somewhere.

In many ways, the role of the traditional CMO used to be similar to role of the quarterback in American football. In football, the quarterback calls the play and is the central leader for the team. Every player has an assigned role, specializes on one particular position, and on game day, executes a set of plays that has been drilled into the player over time. The leader thinks and decides, the team acts and executes

Today’s new breed of CMOs is more like the captain in a game of European soccer. The captain is the informal leader, the motivator. In soccer, every player plays a position, and while players may specialize in a set of skills, they think and execute whatever it takes. Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bull is the designated striker but also finds himself deep in the back and helps out on defense. The winning goal could come from literally anywhere. It is not just execution, but creativity and ingenuity from the team. It’s not just the quarterback that makes the difference!

In today’s digital landscape, consumers have a voice to directly talk to brands and businesses in two-way communication, so consumer preferences change by the day if not by the hour. The play is always on like in soccer. In the past, marketing was more of a one-sided conversation: it was football, where plays are executed, time is stopped, moves then decided. Marketing used to move incrementally towards the goal in stages of brand development like in ten-yard increments, but this no longer suffices. In today’s real-time marketing world, there are no time-outs, no stopping of the clock. The play is ongoing, and shots are being constantly taken from all areas. Sounds a lot like soccer, doesn’t it?

So what does this mean for the new CMO?

  • The new CMO needs to think of brand building or connecting with consumers in entirely new and different ways. The CMO—and marketers in general—need to understand consumers by following the natural data consumers leave behind in their social media channels, their mobile phone usage, and other technologies. Traditional market research and questionnaires will not capture consumers’ daily behavior or the “maps” consumers self-create with Twitter or mobile browser usage. Today’s consumers literally draw maps to their hearts and wallets, and marketers need to discover these maps and learn from them.
  • Marketers also need to find ways to create new value for their brands and products. In the past, marketers built a brand around a new product or service. Today, marketers must move beyond a building a brand of love to creating brands of utility for consumers. Love is simply not enough! Marketers are now tasked with creating total customer value that deeply affects and enhances consumers’ daily lives.
  • Lastly, marketers are on the hook to deliver even faster tangible business results. The CMO is now responsible for spotting new growth opportunities. This P&L mindset geared towards optimizing marketing investment and going for the win is a direct result of CMOs being accountable for market success. Because marketers are not just talking up products after they’re launched, but actively co-creating and shaping them, marketers are also responsible for business growth.

But how do CMOs do all this? When we surveyed CMOs across the world for our recent report on “The Changing Role of the CMO,” it became apparent that three skillsets would be key to managing the role of the new CMO:

  • CMOs will need to understand and shape the entire value chain as accountability for business increasingly falls under the CMO’s purview, and capture value far beyond just marketing the out from the firm’s R&D or innovation department.
  • Nobody can go at it alone; the CMO is no longer just the functional leader who knows best the marketing game. CMO need to refocus on the objective of total value capture for customers across a wide wrath of functional areas within the firm, across the larger ecosystem of the industry and beyond.
  • The new CMO is blending creativity with analytics and financial acumen. Creating value for consumers will require motivating a team far beyond the company’s boundaries and leading them. A deep understanding of economic incentives that align and benefit everyone will be required for success.

So, yes, the game has changed for CMOs and marketers. More skills are needed and new strategies are required in order to stay on top. But one thing remains the same: CMOs still play to win.

Erich_Joachimsthaler_colorErich Joachimsthaler (@ejoachimsthaler) is the Founder and CEO of Vivaldi Partners Group (@VivaldiPartners), a global growth strategy firm with expertise in branding, marketing, and innovation, Agathe Blanchon is the leader of the company’s Fifth Season, a creative, design and digital agency.

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