CMO imperativesIn this digital era, the buyer’s journey has changed. Most CMOs are aware of this and are taking steps to adjust their strategies accordingly. But last week, EVP and CMO of CDW, Neal Campbell, sat on a panel with BMA Chicago and asserted that the task CMOs are faced with is more than a little tweaking here and there. In the age of anti-advertising—an age where 90% of consumers don’t trust advertising while 70% do trust what their peers have to say about a service or product—CMOs must undergo a major transformation, and if they want their businesses to succeed, there are six CMO imperatives they must meet head-on.

Mad Men Must Become Math Men

This is not to say ditch creativity. But your Mad Men and Women who you’ve relied upon to bring the creative juices must also dig into Big Data—and dig in deep. To successfully market to any audience today, you must have the right data to make the right decisions. Knowing who your customers are matters more than ever before. When you can create campaigns based around exactly who your audience is, down to the letter, you will have an easier time getting around consumer distrust of advertising. When the message is for them­—specifically them—and not for an ocean of generic leads, you’ll go far.

Maximize Investment in Brand Campaigns

When your audience doesn’t trust ads, where is a marketer to turn? For as long as we can remember—indeed, since the days of Mad Men—marketers have been tasked with creating ads and ad campaigns that reach their audience and convert them into customers. Now, statistics show that audiences are increasingly tuning out, finding ways to avoid “the pitch” almost all marketers spend vast amounts of time and money crafting, and instead find their own path to products and services. In this age, Campbell declared, all marketers must maximize investment in brand campaigns. With social platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, consumers are relying on word-of-mouth to make purchasing decisions; they are looking for stories about businesses that will influence their buying journey. With that in mind, it is absolutely imperative that CMOs lead the way in their company to creating campaigns that focus around brand: not what your business sells, but who you are.

Find New Ways to Deliver Brand Story

IBM’s recent CMO study revealed that it’s still only a disappointing number of CMOs that have really invested in social media—many brands still put it off on their wish list, even with all the signs showing that social media is here to stay. Customers are online. If you want to succeed in the digital age, you must find new ways to deliver your brand story, and that means finding new places to deliver it too. Some of your customers have been on Twitter for years—when are you going to meet them there?

Equip Sales to Effectively Compete in the Evolving Digital Landscape

This means tapping into all the technology available that gets your sales force in contact with the people you want as customers. For example, mobile is exploding. More than exploding: it’s gone nuclear. Look at these stats. If you haven’t started implementing click-to-calls in your online ads, or at the very least begun putting phone numbers in your ads, you are not doing everything you can to 1) create better alignment between marketing and sales, and 2) give sales what they need to do their jobs better.

Get Human

Campbell emphasized this one strenuously. In a marketing era where customers are thirsty for stories and rely heavily on each other for influence on purchasing decisions, it is more important than ever to give your company a human face. Campbell started off his talk by saying CDW is composed of “3,600 live humans with digital fabric woven in.” The worst thing a CMO can do is forget that, even in the digital age, her audience is still human. This means getting social. Engaging. Getting on the phone. Doing face-to-face business. Don’t lose your humanity in digital marketing.

Follow the Customer

No matter what age we’re in as marketers, digital or otherwise, the ever-present CMO imperative is this: follow the customer. If he’s online, you get online. If she’s on her smartphone, you go mobile. Even when we don’t like it. Even when it’s hard. Even when it means unlearning everything we’ve ever known about our business. Because times change, and that means we must, too.