CMOs Are Behind On Disruptive Growth, And It’s Going To Cost Their Job [Research]

Nearly 40% of CEOs say the CMO will be the first to go if business growth targets are not met, according to Accenture Strategy’s latest research ‘The C-level Disruptive Growth Opportunity,’ which surveyed over 500 CEOs and nearly 900 CMOs from organizations around the world. In spite of the fact that CEOs hold other C-level executives responsible for driving “disruptive growth” across their organizations.

So What Exactly Is Disruptive Growth?

According to the Accenture research, disruptive growth is defined as “driving the disruptive growth agenda and generating new value for the business.”

Examples of disruptive growth can include everything from developing new partnerships with non-traditional players, such as startups, to creating new business models and value chains and launching new innovations and platforms to deliver new benefits, which will allow brands to gain greater share of each customer while attracting new customers.

Think Nike for leveraging its existing business model and market share to create a new business model with its launch of Nike+, which has offered more sales and profit potential. By mounting a chip under the sole of Nike shoes, personal workout statistics can be transmitted to a consumer’s digital devices for reviewing and tracking.

Consumers can also access the Nike+ platform for personalized coaching and training tips and even participate in friendly challenges with other online users who have connected their digital devices to the Nike+ platform.

Nike+ isn’t just about promoting and selling a new shoe, but launching a new digital platform that delivers new benefits to customers, which in turn creates new value and revenue for the business.

CMOs Are Behind On Disruptive Growth

Given CMOs play a crucial role in the end-to-end customer experience, and the fact that they generally have control over many of the levers driving disruptive growth, it might explain why CEO expectations for CMOs to own and drive disruptive growth are much higher than the rest of their C-suite peers.

But in reality, there appears to be a misalignment on business priority and accountability. Only 37% of the CMOs surveyed by Accenture viewed disruptive growth as very important and are committing time and resources on innovation. And yet, three in four CMOs say they have total or a significant control of levers that drive disruptive growth at their organizations.

With these levers at their disposal, CMOs have the incredible opportunity to step up and lead disruptive growth at their organizations. And yet, most CMOs have missed the opportunity. CMOs surveyed reported that an overwhelming 60% of their time is still spent on traditional marketing activities that aren’t delivering, rather than on disruptive initiatives that can generate new value for the business.

How CMOs Can Step Up And Lead Disruptive Growth

To get started with leading disruptive growth initiatives at their organizations, the Accenture research points out that CMOs need to first make their marketing priorities disruptive. They need to develop their disruptive growth strategy around these objectives:

  • Focusing on an outcome-driven orientation rather than product or service orientation
  • Improving and eliminating any friction from the customer experience
  • Tapping into customers’ unmet needs and creating new needs

And to take charge of their disruptive growth initiatives, CMOs should establish an Office of Disruptive Growth to develop and execute the disruptive growth strategy for their organization, as well as manage and lead business partners, both internal and external, to drive the strategy forward.

Savvy CMOs will also work with the C-suite to clearly align accountability and assign responsibilities in the execution of their disruptive growth strategy. For example, the Sales organization may be tasked with identifying and developing non-traditional distribution channels and platforms, while Finance is responsible for tracking and optimizing new revenue recognition models.

CMOs and their marketing teams are most in touch with customer needs and desires. And if CMOs leverage that knowledge and take initiative to drive disruptive growth for their organizations, they will not only find immense opportunities to achieve the business growth their CEOs are looking for, but to also keep a seat at the table and advance their career.

Photo Source

Check out the infographic below from Accenture summarizing the key findings of their research.


Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

2 thoughts on “CMOs Are Behind On Disruptive Growth, And It’s Going To Cost Their Job [Research]

  1. While CMOS have control over the growth levers, all of the executives and the board control exponential growth by the culture they create. If the parties can adopt a long term point of view, the CMO will likely be comfortable pulling the levers and taking the risks. The problem is that over the short run, activities that yield short term gains are prioritized ahead of the long term bets because the culture of the company isn’t going to tolerate failure or defer short term gains for long term growth.

    CMOs ought to create a “balanced portfolio” with short term and long term marketing investments. Then, use the marketing department’s brain trust to explain the portfolio to the rest of the company. This will start the process of balancing long term vs. short term. It is up to the CEO to drive a culture that can support exponential growth.

    1. Thanks Eisaiah,

      I agree there is a real challenge to show short-term results while also balancing long term investments that may take time to show results. I think the CMO needs to work with CEOs to drive culture change to focus on building long term value for shareholders as well as customers. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive goals. But are often counter-intuitive and hard to resist the natural instinct of the business to focus on itself. In the end, I believe market forces will “select” companies that focus on customer experiences, emanating from a culture of customer value first.

Comments are closed.