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A Day in the Life of a CMO

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for nearly a month, however, as I’m sure other CMOs can relate, my days have been consumed by: a must-attend industry conference, a UK trip for a working session with my EU marketing team, striving to increase sales and marketing alignment, meeting my self-imposed and CEO-mandated deliverables, my 90% pre-booked calendar and, last but not least, making final preparations for our annual user conference, PegaWORLD.

Actually, this past month is also fairly typical in many regards. It’s always a continuing balance act  juggling incessant interruptions, fire drills and urgent requests with the ongoing need to drive strategy, planning and execution, not to mention keeping focused on the most important initiatives and also keeping the marketing engine humming.   That means balancing the need to deliver a steadily increasing contribution to the sales pipeline, and ensuring that all deliverables are on time, on strategy, and on budget with the need to improve current systems and processes, without interrupting the flow while improvements are being made. It might feel the same as installing a new boat engine while crossing the Atlantic!  This time crunch also means balancing the relentlessness of every day with the need to spend quality time with my family and recharge my overtaxed batteries.

As you can probably tell by now, CMOs are under constant pressure from customers, shareholders, peers, and of course CEOs to drive consistent, measurable and profitable growth. We are often asked to do more with less. In today’s customer-driven world, consumers are also more demanding than ever. With real-time, social, mobile and Web channels at their immediate disposal, customers will find competitive alternatives if their exact needs aren’t met every time. Today, CMOs have to work smarter than ever before to meet complex customer needs by delivering the right offers, in the right channels, at the right time.

I’ve been meeting with a number of CMOs the past several months and I’ve often asked, “Has it always been this challenging and crazy?”  Most agree that while email and the Internet have increased the pace significantly, the pervasiveness of social media and ubiquity of mobile communications are raising the stakes further on what is required to stay engaged, connected and relevant.   For some, this demanding state of being is understandably overwhelming, but most CMOs I know believe that if you’re up for the challenge, there’s never been a better time to be a CMO.

Another factor making my role more empowering and daunting simultaneously is that with the customers in charge, CMOs have the opportunity to not only be CMOs, but also CCOs, or Chief Customer Officers.  Forrester Research and Paul Hagan in particular, has written about the “rise of the CCO,” and regardless of whether a company appoints someone to such an encompassing role, Forrester notes, “The CMO is uniquely positioned to define how every touch point is a brand experience and should be consistent with other more traditional marketing channels. In order to ensure a superior brand (customer) experience, the evolved CMO should define a synchronized view of the customer.”  I’m spending a lot of time thinking – and often obsessing – about the customer, and I would go further to say you not only need a synchronized view of the customer, you need to synchronize how you serve customers, regardless of the channels they choose – spanning mobile, social, Web, call center, in store or with their unique combination.  To do this successfully, you have to address the customer holistically, understand and synchronize how customer processes work across your organizational silos so you can both improve the customer experience and optimize business outcomes (i.e. increase acquisition, retention and cross selling opportunities).

There’s another snippet of CMO life that I’d like to share, but my CEO just IM’d me, so I’ll have to save it for another day.  Keep focused, and remember to have some fun – we’re in marketing after all!


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More Stories By Grant Johnson

A dynamic, senior-level technology executive with a proven track record building businesses on a global basis. As Chief Marketing Officer for Pegasystems in Cambridge, MA Johnson is responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and execution. He oversees corporate marketing, field marketing, industry marketing, product marketing, marketing programs, marketing communications, analyst and public relations, and global web strategy. Previously, Johnson was the Vice President of Marketing at Guidance Software (GUID) and Vice President of Marketing and served as an officer for FileNet Corp., a $400+ million enterprise software vendor acquired by IBM in 2006. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing for FrontBridge, an email management vendor acquired by Microsoft. Johnson led the company’s re-naming and re-launch, built the marketing team and delivered integrated marketing programs to support significant and sustained revenue growth. He has also served as Director of Marketing for Symantec, with worldwide responsibility for the Norton brand, and as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ethentica, an enterprise security vendor. Johnson received his bachelor of arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his master’s in business administration from Pepperdine University. He has also published several articles on best practices in high tech marketing and co-authored the book, PowerBranding™

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