CMOs And CIOs: The New C-Suite Power Couple?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of moderating panel discussions on the importance of a strong working relationship between CMOs and CIOs at the Direct Marketing Association 2013 Strategic Summit and the Forbes CMO Summit. Both panels were composed of a mix of CMOs and CIOs from some of the best-known organizations including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Akamai, Motorola Solutions, Collective and more. All of the participants reinforced the critical need to find a way to work together more closely. But they describe it more as a marriage of necessity than a relationship they are excited about.

It’s clear these two C-execs haven’t reached power couple status quite yet. In fact, a recent Accenture report confirms that while on the surface, CMOs and CIOs seem to agree, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives in that study said collaboration is at the right level. Taken together with my panel participant’s comments, it’s clear that only some progress is being made to align. In my new report, The CMO And CIO Must Accelerate On Their Path To Better Collaboration (subscription required) for which we partnered with Forbes to do our own investigation into this couple’s dynamics, we find that more collaboration is still needed. In other words, the relationship between CMOs and CIOs is in need of serious couple’s therapy.

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In The Age Of The Customer, Superior Customer Experience Differentiates Retail Brand Leaders

In “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer,” Forrester shows that “in a world where empowered customers are disrupting every industry . . . the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with customers.” This is not about mere customer centricity. This is about customer obsession. 

This customer obsession is particularly crucial in the world of big-box and online retail. With so much pricing and product information available at customers’ fingertips — at home and in the store — retailers are highly vulnerable to price undercutting and switching. Big-box retailers compete fiercely on price, and providing good value is a customer requirement. But our research shows that to be a leading retail brand, retail marketers must differentiate through the promise and delivery of superior customer experience. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century big-box retail brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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Financial Service Brands Fail To Win Baby Boomers' Trust

The financial market is slowly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, and J.D. Power and Associates found a significant improvement in retail bank customer satisfaction in 2013. But Forrester’s own research shows that brand confidence lags behind as financial service marketers fail to win back customer trust, particularly among the all-important Baby Boomers. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century financial services brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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How's That Move From The Funnel To The Customer Life Cycle Going?

Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).

In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:

  • Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
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The Age Of The Customer Requires An Obsessive Focus By CIOs And CMOs

Recently I have invested a fair amount of time with CMOs and agency executives, working through the challenges that marketing faces, especially as shiny new objects like social and mobile develop some patina and digital gets categorized as a mature channel. In a past post on Forbes I called the era we now live in a “post-digital” world for marketers, because the strategies that matter most are those that don’t start with the channel (i.e. mobile-first or digital-first). Marketers need to put themselves in their customers’ seat and define the marketing activities they take on from a customer-first perspective.

Two years ago, Josh Bernoff and I answered the question of where competitive success would come from in the future. In that research, we defined the era we now live in, the age of the customer (see report, client access required). We just updated that report. Since we expect that era to continue for the next 20 years, you need to know what has changed. The age of the customer is defined by a number of undeniable trends:

  • Customers are empowered. From multitab browsers to mobile devices, most people hold the power of information in their hands. How often do you hear from agencies, reporters, and your own customers reinforcing that message?
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