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There's a new star of the show ... step forward Chief Customer Officer

Marketing directors no longer have any real influence in how a business is run, as most marketers have to be product-driven rather than customer-focused.

Professor Dominique Turpin from the IMD business school in Switzerland says the chief marketing officer (CMO) is 'dead', powerless and sidelined.

Turpin says marketers have become too concerned about PR and communications, at the expense of products and pricing. While the influence of marketing bosses has taken a downward slide, the chief financial officer (CFO) is winning the race to the top, partly through tough trading conditions and short-term pressure from financial markets.

As marketing is more art than science, it's hard to measure results with any certainty. When a downturn comes, the marketing budget is often the first to be cut. Turpin says marketing is 'fuzzy', in contrast with the exactness of finance or production. There are exceptions with companies led by visionaries like Apple's Steve Jobs (pictured) and Ikea's Ingvar Kamprad.

Family businesses are better than public companies at taking a long-term marketing view. The CMO title should be scrapped, to be replaced with CCO -- chief customer officer. The CCO would be the voice of the customer, taking views and messages from the market and spreading them throughout the company.

To provide marketing with influence from the top down, the CEO should subsume the CMO title.

Although paying attention to the customer is common sense, Turpin adds, common sense is unfortunately less and less common. The CCO is the first step in the right direction.


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