Five Challenges For Tomorrow’s Global Marketing Leaders

Five Challenges For Tomorrow’s Global Marketing Leaders

This article is by Freddie Laker, VP of global marketing strategy, and Hilding Anderson, research and insights director, both at SapientNitro.

CMOs are struggling to adapt to a world that has fundamentally changed over the course of their careers. Disruptive digital technologies and the new expectations of the global consumer are forcing global firms to adjust and innovate.

SapientNitro has made a significant effort to understand how these changes are impacting large global organizations. What we found was surprising: Just 15% of senior marketers feel prepared to deal with the rapidly changing consumer, and just 8% believe agencies are succeeding in their support of global brands.

Our CMO Global Marketing Readiness Study, a six-month research study of 114 CMO-level marketers, identified five significant challenges that should act as a wake-up call to global marketers:

1. Disruptive technologies.

The proliferation of new technologies – from social media and mobile apps to in-store digital experiences and mobile payments – represents a set of obstacles for which senior marketers are ill prepared. Just 20% consider themselves ‘very knowledgeable’ about technology, yet by 2017 these CMOs will purchase more technology than their CIOs, according to Gartner. The scale of these investments must be at a global level within the organization, yet be mindful of local market requirements. The challenge points to a need for a technology-savvy global CMO with a sensitivity for local-global relationships and the flexibility to adapt to and embrace disruptive technologies and social media-driven, personalized marketing.

2. Globally connected consumers.

A new class of consumers, adept with and empowered by affordable ubiquitous technology, has changed the marketing rules. Our research shows that 82% of senior marketers feel that interconnected consumers have broken down the barriers between global and local marketing. Global marketing’s core challenge has been to deliver relevant messages to the local market, but in an age where assets designed for one country are rapidly shared around the world, the challenge is to give global consumers a delicate balance of local, regional and global campaigns – simultaneously.

3. Localization revisited.

Coping with the diversity of “global consumers” that also have strong regional subcultures is regarded as a challenge by 75% of senior marketers. A recent Millward Brown study found that of ads that tested exceptionally well in one country, just over one in 10 did equally well in another country – raising real questions about the cost efficiencies of cross-border campaigns. Add to this the growing tensions between local and global roles and authority within the organization – challenging for 82% of senior marketers – and what becomes clear is the need for organizational design and digital platforms that allow for a multi-channel, multi-disciplinary mindset across the organization.

4. Multi-channel misses.

A full 37% of senior marketers don’t believe that their marketing activities are fully integrated across digital and traditional channels. The opportunity to grow revenues from multi-channel consumers requires investments in digital experiences that are too large for a single market, but which must provide flexibility for localization. The bottom line is that senior marketers need to adopt the “global mindset” that will let them displace strong organizational silos, specialized partners and a reliance on traditional single-channel campaigns in order to realize the benefits of cross-channel experiences.

5. Organizational structures.

Too often, the three executive branches of CMO, CEO and CTO claim an overlapping interest in the area of digital experience, leading to a failure to organize efficiently for the new global marketing environment. Our research shows that 56% of marketers agree coordination between digital and traditional marketing teams is more challenging than five years ago – silos and a lack of coordination are getting worse just as the need for collaboration is becoming greater.

These trends leave us to believe in the rise of a new breed of “marketer” with a global marketing mindset. This new global CMO should build strategies that cross silos and approaches and combine the characteristics of a traditional marketer with the skills traditionally associated with a CTO and even with the recently created CXO offices. A decade ago the ecommerce or digital function would have reported to the CIO, but today we’re seeing about 50% report to the CMO – the single largest bucket of C-level oversight for digital.

Mastering this evolved global marketing mindset could be what defines the most successful brands of the next decade. But having a global mindset isn’t just for global brands; as businesses look to export their success into other markets, brands must increasingly defend against new global competition.

This article was originally posted at Forbes: 

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Freddie Laker

A veteran digital marketer with experience working with some of the world's biggest global brands. He now focuses on providing interim leadership to PE-backed firms.

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