Smart CMOs are taking responsibility for customer experience but their companies are often ill equipped to cope with radical change argues marketing guru and Simple Chairman, Andy Lark.

Lark, who has stints as the CMO of businesses like Commbank and Xero under his belt said “Smart CMOs are really talking about owning and orchestrating customer experience.”

“It makes me a little ill … you can always tell there’s a shift going on because everyone starts reinventing their titles.” For example, marketing officer start referring to themselves as the customer experience officer. “That just makes me sad because marketing is actually a good thing,” Lark said, while speaking at a marketing roundtable hosted by Simple this week.

Lark argued the industry is at “end of the beginning of a pretty big phase in marketing.” Adding, most CMOs don’t last more than 18 months, are underinvested tech and have struggled to get their heads around the changes the industry has gone through.

“It’s a pretty tectonic shift we are entering into and I think for the past 15 years or so we’ve been through a cycle where we’ve been really struggling, denying, dealing with the shift that’s gone on in the mediascape and we have had this birth of technology that has suddenly zeroed in on the world of marketing and it’s been really hard to decipher.”

Across Australian businesses there is a huge productivity drive in marketing, Lark said. He compared it to the reallocation of resources that IT departments have undergone in response to cloud adoption which means there’s “no more servers to manage, no more storage to buy.”

However he noted most organisation aren’t wired in a way that allows marketers to make radical changes to their budgets or operations.

“If you look at the average marketing budget today around 80 per cent of it or more largely just repeats precisely what it did the year before. It’s very, very hard for the smart marketer, the innovative marketer, to come into a business and go ‘actually let’s rip up last year’s budget, let’s reallocate our headcount and let’s go do something new.’ Because the average large enterprise just simply could not deal with that.”

A good marketing department needs a talented head of marketing ops and technology, as well as the backing of IT and business analysts to help them redefine their core processes. They also see training as an ongoing event.

A new engagement model

To date marketing has largely been an interruption-based activity. In the future the winners will be those that can command attention most efficiently and effectively, Lark argued.

“The best marketers out there right now they are all focused on engagement and they are all focused on not-interruption based activity,” Lark said. Marketing stacks should be built to intercept the customer where they are.

“As we shift into this attention economy the game starts to shift entirely for us as marketers…

“The new winners are increasingly not those who advertise the most with the highest frequency with the best creative, but rather those who orchestrate the best experience down stream.”

The brands with the most data and widest reach – think Uber and Amazon – will win, Lark said, thanks to their ability to preemptively know what customer want next and how to serve it to them.

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