By next year, Gartner predicts that 89 percent of companies surveyed will compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. And by 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. There is no question that the way we do business is rapidly evolving. CMOs must keep up by staying on top of new trends and taking ownership of the roles marketing plays — both new and traditional — in creating a compelling and consistent customer experience.
As we enter the final weeks of 2015, it’s time we look ahead to the top trends and challenges we expect to see in the new year, and how CMOs can continue to adapt and rise to the occasion.
- The Role of CMOs will expand upward and outward. As owners of the corporate message, CMOs have valuable insight into customer behavior, challenges and pain points. 2016 presents a unique opportunity to not only act as expert customer experience advisors to senior leadership (and claim their rightful spot in the C-suite), but to also take on a cross-functional role that influences all areas of the business and ensure a clear, compelling and consistent message is pulled through each customer touchpoint in an intentional and strategic manner.
- Your company message will need to be part of your DNA. Employees deliver your message day in and day out. But a recent Gallup Poll found that only 9 percent of them know what their company stands for. In 2016, it will be more important than ever for CMOs to strategically partner with leaders to implement a messaging-driven Organizational Change initiative that infuses your company’s message into the hearts and minds of employees at every level, enabling them to deliver a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
- Face-to-face marketing will continue to grow. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research found that nearly half of event attendees say face-to-face interactions are more valuable today than they were two years ago, and many believe they will continue to increase in value. CMOs should focus on making event marketing part of their overall strategy by creating an event-specific messaging architecture anchored in the Corporate Messaging Platform with key takeaway messages that they want attendees to leave the event thinking, and strategically driving the corporate message through all event materials.
- Customers will expect personalized content. Thanks to the rise of digital media and marketing automation, customers are most likely to consume information in the place and format that works best for them. In 2016, it is vital that CMOs identify their customers’ preferred media channels and drive campaigns that deliver customized, engaging content to those channels. CMOs should also work closely with the sales director to create a strategy that ensures each customer hears a consistent message, even as the sales pitch is tailored to meet their specific needs.
When it comes to 2016 predictions, one thing is for sure: We have made the leap from capabilities-centric to customer-centric. Marketing is becoming one of the most strategic functions in B2B organizations, and CMOs should stay aware of trends and opportunities that will help them shape how everyone in the company communicates the corporate story.