From what I can evidence prior to this crisis it seemed that CMO's and marketing teams have simply become the digital communication bullhorn of the company.
Companies would run the recruitment and interview process, a process that was/is significantly biased towards the digital communication expertise a CMO or marketing lead could bring - just check out any job role description for a marketing head on LinkedIn and you will see the absurdity of the incremental bias.
Is this really the extent of what businesses need from it's marketing leaders, and from those future leaders who are coming through today's marketing departments?
Today's Marketing CV's are littered with descriptions of digital communications expertise and the awesome results they've delivered - seems very few have had shit results BTW.
I guess the message is 'be careful of what you wish for' or in this case be careful what you ask your recruitment or headhunting agency for.
It certainly seems like business has lost sight of the wider role of the CMO's ability and expertise in leveraging research and data to identify changes in consumer behaviour, organic growth opportunities, untapped consumers, along with opening up new sectors and markets.
This is something that when I sat in the CMO chair would be done in a collaborative way with the product development teams and my counterparts in the C-Suite as part of an internally aligned strategy.
Today, instead of being the marketing leaders that help identify the rationale for new markets and product development opportunities it seems they were/are judged on how efficiently they spent most of their time blowing large ad spend budgets and spewing the corporate creative vomit to feed the fraud ridden ad-tech platform frenzy.
Pre Covid CMOs were required to focus on being customer-centric and data-driven while offering so called personalised communication strategies. They were also being called on more to prove ROI on campaigns, but are these really the main KPI's of a marketing leader?
"Just keep the sausage machine flowing" is the cry from today's boardroom.
So, is it any surprise that industries who expect a CMO to be nothing more than a digital communications expert have lost sight around how internal change and opportunity is fundamentally impacted by external behaviours - and, is it any surprise when it's far too late to do anything about it?
This is the climate and business marketing environment that future CMO's are being exposed to - and it's most definitely not healthy for any business.
As the world of business looks to go back about it's business CEOs will no doubt be expecting CMOs to be the "magic bullet" that can revive sales, grow market share and inspire customers.
These many and varied demands will no doubt be often impossible for CMOs to meet, especially with reduced resource and without the availability of the bloated advertising budget which will inevitably lead to increasingly shorter tenures as results become nigh on impossible to deliver against.
So, does this crisis now set the scene for the C-Suite to let the CMO get back to what they're supposed to do which is to focus on growth, innovation, and product development?
"Once, the marketing manager role encompassed research, strategic planning and the full suite of tactics to take a product to market. Today, we are increasingly the communications department. And little more". Marketing Week
I talk quite a lot about how companies completely miss the point about social media networks. I genuinely believe this is due to marketing having been reduced to a digital communication sausage making machine. So, instead of looking at social media platforms as a place to get free research on consumers, test reactions to new product ideas around the globe, and build authentic relationships they continue to see it as a place to bombard us with the ad-tech shit we all seem to want to ignore - why?, because this is the way it's always been done.
Pre Covid there was a growing online movement with the hashtag #turnoffadtech, it seemed to be having a positive effect for a number of global FMCG brands who turned off ad tech and felt no real impact on sales, or brand awareness.
Then came Covid, and with it the decimation of the marketing and advertising budgets, along with the stark reality that marketing teams who once worked in an office are now working remotely and without the back up and safety net of the media agency because the company can no longer afford the ad spend, or the retainer.
Not only are there now 1 in 4 people adopting ad blocking software, prior to this crisis there was forecast to be circa $100 Billion in ad fraud by 2023, e.g. 50% - 75% of every £/$ spent went into fraudsters pockets.
Just think what you could do with that waste in this climate?
Without a doubt, last years introduction of the GDPR and now the Covid crisis has at last started to make companies think about the madness of ad tech, in particular how the wild west mentality and blatant abuse of personal data is simply switching off you and me in our millions.
So, does today's CMO actually have the wider level of expertise and experience to rise to these challenges, especially when most of what they are asked to do are measured against their ability to use digital ad spend communication skills?
All the neat expectations from marketers that they would spend more money in 2020 and focus on organic growth have, of course, been smashed to smithereens by our little viral challenger.