The CMO as Change Agent

In preparation for an upcoming CMO Exchange panel, I’ve been mulling over what it means to be a “change agent”.  The concept means something different to each of my co-presenters.  For Eastman Kodak‘s VP Marketing, it means strategically managing a brand in decline so its equity can transfer to the company’s new incarnation.  For Microsoft Windows Phone Marketing Director, it’s about generating demand in a crowded and rapidly-changing consumer marketplace.  For Bayer HealthCare‘s Marketing Director, being a change agent is about integrating old and new techniques in a mature business.  Obviously the challenges vary across B2B and B2C businesses in different industries.

But we all agree that today’s CMO must be a catalyst for change.  As our facilitator Steven Cook put it, ” To transform the Marketing role into a relevant, respected, value-adding function, the Chief Marketing Officer now has another ‘CMO’ leadership obligation and opportunity to be a Change Management Operator across the C-suite, Company, and with customers and strategic partners.”

My view – shaped by 25 years in B2B marketing for large service companies – is that this decade will see the corporate marketing function change shape dramatically.  Marketing Automation Systems (such as Marketo, Silverpop and Eloqua) tied to sales automation systems such as will become ubiquitous -and with them, an emphasis on measuring and analyzing all marketing functions.  Marketing will be evaluated on ROI and revenue participation.  CMO’s and soon-to-be CMO’s must embrace and lead the change, or be left behind.

In each of my roles, I’ve focused on three key initiatives that redefine the Marketing function as a change agent, revenue center, and partner to the Sales process.

  • Thought leadership / content marketing programs which improve brand awareness, position the company as an industry thought leader, generate qualified leads via multi-channel digital campaigns, and provide the Sales force with high-quality content for client conversations.  (See Vantiv Insights for my current program.)
  • Comprehensive inbound marketing programs, using social media, blogs, videos, SEO, paid search, and referral strategies to deliver leads with a 3X higher close rate than traditional practices –Integrated with traditional outbound channels such as email marketing and advertising.
  • Implementation of marketing automation systems (Marketo is my preferred) for lead generation and nurturing, email marketing, analytics, reporting, and interoperability with for a continuous pipeline.

Marketing strategies will obviously vary across industries and markets.  So I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from my CMO Exchange co-presenters, and I look forward to sharing.  As change agents, we must all be receptive to continuous improvement!

About Lorena Harris

Lorena Harris has more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with large business service companies. Her expertise is in designing research-based content marketing programs for brand building and demand generation. Since earning her MBA from Duke, Lorena has built revenue-generating marketing programs for $B+ B2B service companies such as Fiserv, First Data and Vantiv (financial services), ADP (employee benefit services), Convergys (contact center services) and Donnelly (publishing services). More information available on
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