What is the role of the marketing manager?

At marketing school you're taught various supposed roles for the marketing manager, with many focusing on the 4 P's of product, price, place and promotion.  A new study of Chief Marketing Officers by IBM however suggests the role is far more varied.

The study suggests that marketing managers should play a central role in a wide range of activities, regardless of whether they form part of the job specification.  It outlines three new realities for the marketing manager:

However the role of the marketing manager is changing rapidly and involves many new challenges.  Consider the following areas in which marketing managers are taking a leading role today:

  • CMO as technology assimilator:  The study identifies several changes, from the explosion of data to the proliferation of devices to grappling with social media and new channels that have thrust CMOs into a leading corporate role in trying to understand and leverage technology-enabled connections. Outside of the CIO / CTO, no other top management leader is experiencing such a rapid shift in the external environment and more importantly, the need to quickly adapt practices, structure, personnel, and plans accordingly.  The CMO is uniquely positioned to help the firm understand technology in the context of harnessing its power to drive better revenue enhancing programs.
  • CMO as the “outside-in” translator:   In addition to technology changes, Yuchun highlighted the significant shift in consumer expectations and behavior among the echoboomer demographic group.  Understanding the external environment, the consumer, and the competitor has become one of the central competencies that CMOs bring to the firm.  However, more so than ever, it’s critical that the CMO not just understand these factors but that he/she help translate this understanding across the top management team to help drive smarter strategies and plans.
  • CMO as the insight generator:  The study indicates that the single biggest area where CMOs feel underprepared is in managing the explosion of data (71% cite underpreparedness).  Although the study doesn’t measure this, my guess is that there isn’t another function within the firm who feels more prepared. More importantly, there isn’t another function that likely has greater capability to understand, analyze, and interpret the data.  Today’s CMO must lead the firm in transforming data into knowledge such that it can be effectively acted upon.

Simply put, it appears that there are nuances to the CMO role that job specifications and even CEOs are lagging behind in understanding.  This study may help to educate CMOs, CEOs, and even executive recruiters about the changing capability needs within firms and how CMOs could play a leading role in developing them.

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