The Future CMO: Storyteller, Technologist, Behaviorist


ADOTAS – I have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in marketing right now, but I’m also always thinking about what’s around the corner and wondering about the future of marketing too. One aspect in flux is the changing role of the CMO. It is becoming far more complex and nuanced than it once was, and I believe the next generation of CMOs will have to foster three characteristics to really do their job well. The Future CMO must be a storyteller, a technologist and a behaviorist.

The Storyteller

Storytelling has always been an essential part of marketing. But now CMOs face more complex storytelling challenges as new social tools are introduced and mobile consumption becomes more prevalent.

Brand storylines must also be more flexible than they were in the past as new types of content, such as user generated reviews, may take a brand narrative in an entirely new direction. Consumers want to participate in the brand story and are increasingly connected and able to react instantly.

Building stories that can be easily shaped and reshaped by your audience is now essential to the brand narrative. CMOs must be able to create storylines that are strong enough to attract the attention of the consumer but flexible enough to incorporate instant feedback and chance depending on the trend of the moment. A new kind of creative perspective is required to do this well.

The Technologist

Technology plays a pivotal and ever increasing role in effectively delivering and managing brand messages. Today’s tech innovations offer the ability for the author and audience to be more expressive and connected to the brand.

For example, web and mobile screens provide an endless canvass where CMOs can weave an interactive and ongoing story. You can create the characters, the story arc and instantly provide consumers with new elements of surprise, keeping them engaged with the brand longer and in more ways than ever before. In fact, making the technology part of what you doing fade into the background becomes the bigger challenge. To make it feel natural and easy to engage.

The latest and greatest technology provides even more mediums to showcase your brand beliefs. The big challenge for the Future CMO will be to become fluent and fluid with technology and comfortable interacting with brands via new mediums, such as artificial intelligence, location-aware features, and new devices like Google Glass. The opportunity to serve up your brand image in just the right moment in the right way is the holy grail of marketing and will continue to define theFuture CMO.


Data provides the CMO with a whole new set of ways to learn about customers and how they want to interact with you. Data generated by online behavior and mobile use – where they click, how long an item is in their shopping cart, and what products they view in a series – not only informs the digital CMO’s approach to storytelling, but it also calls for a new set of skills.

The Future CMO will need to parse this data and pinpoint the signals that are important to understanding the wants, likes and ultimately the soul of the consumer. In fact, the best CMO’s will be digital anthropologists, using technology to watch and learn as we go to see what consumers are really doing with the brand.

While this may mean that the job of the Future CMO is more complex, it is also more exciting. I believe those that embrace and master these new competencies will be successful in the marketing world for years to come.

What do you think the Future CMO will need to succeed?


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