Stepping into a new era of digitalization has heralded massive developments in both marketing technology and marketers’ responsibilities. The coupling of increased revenue responsibility with an ever-lengthening customer experience cycle, results in a huge expansion of the traditional marketing domain – forcing the CMO to become a business leader first, and an artisan second.

Moreover, with the likes of big data, granular visibility of metrics and automation now at their disposal, can CMOs get away with spending budget they can’t measure the return on?


Our host for the evening was James Harris, Founder of Change Makers Club – a global network of executive forums bringing together senior leaders to discuss some of today’s greatest challenges. Leading the discussion on the night was our guest speaker, Randi Schochet, Chief Marketing Officer at Cross River Bank.



The mantra of, “if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t get funded,” especially rings true in the case of smaller start-up businesses. Within these environments, CMOs are grappling with the tension between having a limited budget and being expected to prove returns up front.

Many marketers are dealing with shrinking budgets and being asked to do more with less. The recommendation posed by one guest was to innovate new ways of collaborating with other groups within the business. This way marketing activities can become more effective on a limited budget and other areas of the business understand the value brought by the marketing department.

Although they’re not as measurable as newer tools, “PR and social are essential to establish the brand because that’s what gives us the runway to have conversations; we have credibility, we are known, it makes the approach easier. We need a willingness to invest in top of the funnel/brand efforts.” Perhaps organisations must be willing to invest in less measurable areas in order to see measurable results down the line. “The secret sauce of marketing success is understanding influencer management.”



How technical does the role of CMO need to get?

There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer, “How deep your technical knowledge needs to be of those subjects really depends on who you have available to bring in to support you and work with you.” However, that is not to say that a CMO could or should have no understanding of an area if they have an expert to hand. “It is important to understand the industry and the subject matter experts you surround yourself with.”

An alternative perspective is that a CMO needs to have a comprehensive understanding of technology given that “tech has changed everything and it’s moving at an extremely rapid pace.”

It’s perhaps the case that the need to be a technologist is becoming exacerbated as a result of budgets being transferred to them from CTOs, “We’re gobbling up their jobs and taking a larger proportion of the pie so it takes a person with an extensive tech background to really do it well.”

The need to be a technologist is exacerbated, he argued, because “CMOs are taking up budgets from CTOs.  We’re gobbling up their jobs and taking a larger proportion of the pie so it takes a person with an extensive tech background to really do it well.”



Although technology is of growing importance to the CMO role, the classical understanding of brand and voice still remains paramount. Jeff Bezos’s quote about brand perhaps exemplifies its importance best, “brand is what they say about you when you leave the room.”

Bearing this in mind, it is vital we understand how we define that landscape and our voice.  How do we make sure our message is being heard?  There are other layers – technology, analytics, business – but the art is critical and cannot be stripped away.

“We are advocates for the customer – that is ultimately what we stand for.”



When under pressure from the business to increase prices, can we, and if so how, prioritize the conflicting desires to drive revenue and put the customer first?

Our Chair suggested it is important to look at market share and opportunity: “look analytically at what you can lose if you are raising rates; think competitively.

Where is everyone else?  What else is available?  What is the reason for raising rates?  Are you adding value with it?  Because if not, you risk losing customers.  Then you need to look at the cost of acquisition and build that into your business case.  Show the competitive landscape and be clear about what they are risking.”

So how does a CMO manage the pressure to increase prices? “Really monitor it; monitor the effect on customer service activity, monitor sales – and share that info.”



In order to connect with the customer in the context of B2B marketing, it is essential to have a hook to create a deep connection with the customer and is evidenced both strongly and rationally.

This might seem unlikely in outlook in the corporate and often dry world of B2B marketing. However, “understanding who your customer is and what their pain point is, is the emotional part. You find that emotional connection by identifying and solving the pain point.”



This meeting of the Kite Club considered the evolving role of the CMO. In particular it explored how increased measurability, new technology and customer relationships all interrelate in the shifting marketing landscape.

The Club united CMOs, Marketing Directors, Senior Directors, VPs, and other leaders from organizations such as HP, Thomson Reuters, IBM, Cross River, Glisser and select others – on this occasion at SoHo House in New York – to debate the future of the CMO role.  Debate on the night covered many more perspectives on the evolution of the role than we can fully discuss here.  To gain the in-depth insights that our guests benefited from, book your place for next time via the button below: