What does the CMO50 tell us about modern marketing?

The CMO50 is a celebration of customer connections, creativity and innovation.

Every year I’m inspired and intrigued by the mix of talent on this list of marketing leaders. Like any good yearbook, the cohort tells a story about a particular moment in time, and well, hasn’t 2020 been quite a moment!

This was the year marketers had to adapt on the fly, pause or cancel campaigns, and engage customers in new and relevant ways. A deft touch was required to demonstrate respect, support and empathy without appearing to exploit customer fears. Not surprisingly, the CMO archetype shifted.

The CMO50 2020 tells a story of business leaders who transformed, responded to customer and community concerns, and ultimately embraced a narrative of possibility and hope.

What do I mean? This was the year CMOs cemented their roles as essential members of c-suite leadership teams.

The modern CMO today wields more executive influence than ever before. In fact, an eye-opening 94 percent of this year’s cohort are members of their organisation’s executive leadership team.

This influence is clearly the result of an environment where marketers are standing at the coalface of a world-wide surge in digital and societal transformation.

The CMO’s peers are keenly aware data-driven technology is no longer a nice-to-have, but essential for driving stakeholder engagement and bringing an organisation’s purpose to life through digital experiences.

That dynamic has created space for Australian CMOs to become some of the most innovative, data-driven creatives in the world. The CMO50 is a reflection of this idea and the important role CMOs play when it comes to realising sustainable and profitable growth.

The power of community and collaboration

However, growth is rarely a solo effort. I’ve also marvelled at how communities, leaders and even competitors have worked together to overcome what, at times, felt like insurmountable challenges.

For example, supermarket rivals Coles and Woolworths joined forces in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure consumers had reliable and fair access to groceries.

We’ve also seen leading brands in the Australian technology sector reflect this spirit of community with the launch of a free micro-skills marketplace - Skill Finder.

This platform offers access to more than 700 digital skills courses from the world’s leading tech and digital companies. It’s a great example of how our industry is working closer together on a common challenge – fostering the digital skills needed to transform our workforce.

Marketers are no different, famous for collaborating and generously sharing ideas at events and community gatherings. Within organisations, marketers use these networking skills to collaborate with teams across the entire value chain.

So, what can you do to foster collaboration and help drive Australia’s economic recovery? If we keep up this momentum, I believe the possibilities are mind-blowing.

High EQ personalisation

One more thing. The CMO50 has reminded us about the power of emotional intelligence (EQ) in marketing at a time when data-driven strategies are equally top-of-mind.

Remote working did more than change our lifestyles. It reminded us that every person’s situation is unique and more effort is required to make sure we understand our customers.

The CMOs representing the financial services industry in the CMO50 this year are all too aware of this situation. Events like the global financial crisis, Hayne Royal Commission and arrival of industry disruptors such COVID-19 lockdown and impending digital advertising regulations, have firmly cemented customer experience on the executive agenda.

Empathic, clear and transparent digital solutions are essential for addressing customer tension and anxieties.

I’m so proud of Adobe’s involvement with the CMO50 Awards. Creativity, innovation and world-class marketing experiences are our DNA, and it’s inspiring to see those values reflected in this year’s finalists. I firmly believe there is no one better prepared than the CMO to help companies survive and thrive no matter what comes next.