The growing popularity of interactive tools such as wikis, blogs and mashups has enabled consumers to engage with firms as never before. This is creating new opportunities and challenges for global marketers. According to Future tense: The Global CMO, a white paper sponsored by Google, marketers are now more able to reach out to consumers not just when purchase decisions are made, but during all points along the value chain. Many companies have put their customers at the center of their operations. In fact, according to 56% of marketing executives who responded to the Economist Intelligence Unit survey, their companies are highly customer-centric, and their marketing efforts are already interwoven with their system of operation.
Today's consumers have access to various sources of information. As a result, the manner in which they make their purchasing decisions is continuously evolving and becoming more sophisticated. 'Now when you push a marketing message out there, something comes back. If it's a great message and it's real, the boomerang is positive. But if it's not genuine, or if it's perceived as being disingenuous, you get slammed,' says Lauren Flaherty, CMO of Canadian telecommunications company Nortel Networks, an interviewee for the report.
The swift dissemination of information is pushing global CMOs towards a broader role. They are now expected to work not only with their traditional audience of customers and prospects, but with all corporate stakeholders including investors, employees and government regulators. For global CMOs, this often entails integrating marketing and communications in all aspects of the enterprise in order to more effectively gather, develop and use customer intelligence for the benefit of thier companies.
'The CMO of the future must be the chief proponent of close engagement with customers,' says Nigel Holloway, Director, Americas, Industry and Management Research, at the Economist Intelligence Unit. 'Rather than merely pushing out the corporate message to consumers, marketers must draw them in so that they are regarded as helpful participants in the development of the brand.'