Is the CMO Becoming the Chief Collaboration Officer?


In the past, the role of a marketer was much simpler. Marketers would work in the comfortable silo of the marketing department. We didn’t have to spend much time interacting with other “less-important” departments because we were the kings of the castle. The builders of the brand. The generators of leads. Life was good.

Wow, have things changed. Today, the role of a marketer is increasingly complex, requiring more cross-functional collaboration than ever before.

The concept of building a brand has shifted to “managing the customer experience”. And that experience goes way beyond just a single TV ad. It touches departments across the company that marketing may have never had to deal with in the past.

For example, what if a customer has a bad experience with your product and decides to take his or her frustration to social media? This is no longer just a customer service problem. This is a marketing problem, because it can have a negative impact on your brand and hurt your business.

Studies show that 71% of people are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals (Source: Hubspot). Marketers need to make sure customers are happy and are not venting frustrations on social media sites.

How does customer service deal with this?

How does customer service deal with this?


Here’s another example: what if your marketing message is focused on a specific product benefit like “ease of use?” Yet, the sales team only talks to their prospects about “low cost.” That creates a total disconnect between the marketing message and the sales message, and has the potential confuse the customer. When prospects are confused, it makes it hard to convert them into a customer.

Today marketers are getting more and more involved with other departments like service, sales, product, and IT to ensure a consistent experience at every possible touch point with the customer.

The result is that marketers are becoming the “Chief Collaboration Officers” of the company. And this is proving to be a good thing. Here are some stats to show the results of improved marketing collaboration:

  • B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster 3-year revenue growth, and 27% faster 3-year profit growth. (Source: Type A Communications)
  • In companies where the CMO and CIO work well together, the enterprise is 76% more likely to outperform in terms of revenues and profitability. (Source: IBM CMO Study 2013)

In my current role leading PGi’s global online marketing team, we strive to be hyper-collaborative across the organization. We’ve learned that we can’t just sit at our desks complaining about things happening in other groups. We have to be proactive and reach out to peers in different departments to see if we can help. What we found is that our partnership was not only needed, but welcomed by the different teams.

For example, we initiated a conversation with our product implementation team about some issues we were seeing with the adoption of our software solutions. They were very aware of the problem and asked for our help in creating some demo videos for training. My team does a lot of video work, so we were able to leverage our resources and help them out. Now our implementations are going better than ever.  You can see examples of the demos below.

Marketing collaboration has also earned the CMO a more important role at the C-level. An IBM studyshows that CEO’s are increasingly looking to their CMO’s for strategic input, and CMO’s now are right behind the CFO’s in terms of influence with the CEO.

So, if you’re marketing department is working in a silo, think about evolving your collaboration strategy. Marketers today can make a huge impact on their organizations beyond just an ad campaign.

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