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Virtually all (99%) CEOs and CMOs believe that the function of marketing will change fundamentally over the next three years. So finds the latest survey [pdf] from Accenture, which also found that more than three-quarters of CMOs also believe that the formulas they relied on in the past will not stand up to the new breed of disruptors in the future.

These figures invite the question as to what companies should be doing differently to adapt. Of the almost 1,000 CMOs surveyed, Accenture looked at the 17% of respondents who said they had been extremely successful at delivering highly relevant customer experiences. The companies where these CMOs worked typically outperformed others, with shareholder value being 11% higher than the rest for 2017-2018, and are referred to as “Pioneer CMOs” in Accenture’s report.

So what sets these CMOs apart from the pack? Here are 3 areas that Pioneer CMOs are engaging in to make an impact on their companies’ growth.

They Embrace New Job Roles

One of the key differences between Pioneer CMOs and the other CMOs surveyed for the report is that they are more likely to build teams that embrace the value of new marketing roles. Some 87% of Pioneer CMOs said they will, to a larger extent, rely on roles that connect digital strategies to physical experiences for a connected customer experience, which Accenture has labeled Immersive Experience Designers. This is compared to 65% of other CMOs who feel this role will have an important beneficial impact on company performance.

CMOs know that one of their key roles is delivering business growth, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents to a recent report citing it as one of their top priorities. So it’s no surprise that 82% of pioneering CMOs feel that the role of Growth Hacker – those who work quickly and with relentless experimentation across marketing channels and product development to optimize activity and unlock growth – will help them achieve their goals.

Another one of the many roles that the majority (81%) of Pioneer CMOs are embracing in the quest for growth is the Chief Storyteller. This role involves being able to tell the story that drives deeper emotional connections with customers.

They Place Value On C-Suite Collaboration

CMOs know that organizational alignment, supported by a strong relationship between CMO and CEO, is one of the most important factors for performing their job effectively.

The vast majority (88%) of Pioneer CMOs believe that it is important (40%) or very important (48%) that they work closely with CEOs or the Board of Directors in order to impact business priorities and strategic issues. Far fewer of the other CMOs surveyed believe that collaboration with CEOs is very important (30%).

The significance of connecting with the C-suite goes beyond the CEO. With CMOs taking on more accountability for financial results, Pioneer CMOs believe it is also important (46%) or very important (38%) to work closely with CFOs. Additionally some 83% of Pioneer CMOs feel it’s important or very important to work closely with COOs, CSOs and Chief Research and Design Officers, while 79% see the importance of working with the CIO.

They Drive a Customer-Centered Culture

While CMOs have said that securing long-term customer relationships supports business growth, they also recognize that doing just that is only going to become more difficult in the coming years.

With this in mind, Pioneer CMOs are infusing a customer-centered culture into their marketing strategy. They acknowledge that customer expectations are changing – for example, they recognize that customers are buying more through multichannel experiences (56%) and that they expect continuous innovation with more relevant products, services and experiences that adapt to their needs (52%).

Some 52% of Pioneer CMOs are also influenced by the fact that customers are constantly re-evaluating their choices and are becoming increasingly difficult to predict in their buying behavior.

Being customer-centered is one aspect that Amazon’s CEO has continued to highlight as its key driver of growth, to the extent that the 1997 letter to shareholders promising to “focus relentlessly on our customers” is still reprinted in its entirety some 20 years later.

Altimeter revealed earlier this year that evolving buying behaviors are helping to drive digital transformation. However, other research has found that while CMOs tend to own customer experience, the technology that aids in customer experience is more than likely in the hands of the CIO or CTO, which reiterates the importance of the previous point of close C-suite collaboration.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: Accenture Research conducted a survey of 935 CMOs and 564 CEOs in 12 countries across 17 industries, between March 2018 and April 2018.

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