Tenure for CMOs has slipped for the first time in a decade, from 48 months to 44 months. 

Combine that information with insights from Forrester, which revealed that 85 percent of marketing executives believe that today’s marketing department includes functions that no one thought would be a responsibility as recently as three or four years ago. 

Thriving in an environment of ever-increasing responsibility and expectations requires CMOs to think and react simultaneously with the shifting needs of their companies and their consumers. Adopting an Agile mindset is becoming increasingly important for CMOs in order to carve out a stable seat at the C-Suite table.

Marketing on Steroids

One of the big challenges of Agile ideology is the pace at which trends impact purchase behavior and the time it takes for marketing efforts to deliver measurable impact to an organization. 

Pat Cassidy, head of Global Digital Brand Marketing for New Balance said in a report (pdf) by Scratch and QuickPivot, “Agile is listening to what people say or their response and being able to change your tactics and approach. What you may have thought of as a truth the day before is suddenly not the truth anymore.” 

CMOs must be able to move in time with the information they get and capitalize on it quickly. Colin Hall, SVP and CMO of global men’s shoe retailer Allen Edmonds noted the importance of those moments of insight, “(Marketers) need the ability to see what’s working and scale it — take a strategy that’s working and put it on steroids.”

Steering the ship of an organization in the direction of measurable marketing ROI is one thing, but in order to succeed, it must be done within the broader organizational context and offer some structure and visibility to other business units.

Give Yourself a Flexible Framework

A successful, flexible framework plans for the knowns, recognizes there will be unknowns and understands that some things may have to change. Wayne Best, VP of marketing for sports retailers ‘47 revealed that there are several "knowns" that the sporting world can plan for: “if we know that in October it’s all going to be about the World Series, we can plan around it but we may have to react to the Royals being in the world series; therefore, we have to shift our focus to that topic and what’s hot there.”

Once you have your “knowns” in place, ensure your team is prepared to spin off smaller, micro-campaigns in reaction to trends or behaviors that originate in your audience. In the case of a sports retailer, if a huge winning streak emerged or a major world record was broken by an athlete, it might make sense to pull up a seat to those conversations and offer some unique content, contests or experiences in the right channels. 

Lastly, if something is too big to ignore, don’t ignore it. As important as it is to know when to hold on, it’s almost more important to know when to let go. If a better idea or opportunity comes along, let go of a campaign that isn’t as strong and put it in a “parking lot” for a time in the future when you might need it.

Don’t Go Crazy with Omnichannel

The idea of a brand being in all places, at all times is unsustainable and unnecessary for most companies. “I’ve never been that crazy about the term omnichannel,” said Kevin Ertel SVP of digital for Sur La Table, “because it means 'all' — you don’t have an all channel strategy. Each channel has their own nuances. You want to emphasize the right ones in the right way, so you don’t want to treat everything the same. Ultimately, it's about knowing that customers are going back and forth — how do you take advantage of the strength of each channel to give them a better experience?” 

Know where your customers are, understand what actions they are taking and what they are using channels for in a way that has some relevance to your brand. Then develop content that makes sense for those channels.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

While you may need to get your hands dirty from time to time in the realm of social likes, impressions and open rates, this alone will not give you the insight you need to steer the marketing ship of your organization. Think about the key touchpoints and engagements you need to see across channels and the total value of your customer in terms of referrals. 

At the end of the day, it’s going to be much more important for you to understand the lifetime value of your customer above and beyond the smaller channel interactions.

The need for Agile Marketing is here and most CMOs, without even knowing it, may already be employing Agile techniques. 

“Most research shows that, on average, requirements change between 20 to 25 percent during a project, regardless of whether a project is traditional or agile.” 

Looking into 2016, it's clear that marketing leaders have more responsibility than ever before. Marketing teams will rely heavily on technology, analytics and versatile team members who know how to leverage the tools and information at their fingertips in order to come out on top.

CMOs have an opportunity to change the way organizations see marketing teams from those who work the channels to produce awareness, to those who truly understand the customer and strive to kick off relationships that last a lifetime.

For More Information:

Title image Jascha Huisman