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The 5 Hard Truths Every Bank CMO Must Face

Lauren Wilson - March 7, 2019 - 0 comments

The 5 Hard Truths Every Bank CMO Must Face

10 years ago, the role of a CMO was forecasted to be the senior-executive role subject to the most change. The focus of this change was an expanding scope, with the CMO taking on a “larger role as the ‘voice of the customer’ across the company”, in addition to managing changes in the marketplace, while balancing traditional roles of advertising, brand management, and market research.  

Looking at today’s realities, this prophecy was accurate.  KPMG suggests that as financial organizations continue organize themselves around their customers’ instead of their own needs and processes, CMOs need to expand their responsibilities and knowledge beyond traditional marketing in order to succeed.

Here are 5 hard truths every bank CMO must face as they navigate this changing landscape:

1. Link to company objectives:

Delivering on customer-focused commitments cannot be done from the CMO’s office alone. It is imperative that each department delivers on these promises by aligning their objectives to the broader institutions strategy and customer needs. The CMO is often an internal customer experience consultant to their peers in the C-suite and the leading driver of a customer-centric culture in their financial institution. In addition to the traditional “creative” role of marketing, it is essential for the CMO to bring transformation to the table.

2. Choose and use the right technology:

With this transformation in mind, CMOs are faced with an overwhelming number of marketing automation options. As a required core competency, marketing leaders need to consider the right technology stack to transform the organization. These solutions must enable the financial institution to listen and respond to thousands of customers on an individual basis, rather than the broader market focused messages used in the past. CMOs now find themselves with a large budget to purchase and implement this new technology, with high organizational expectations. According to Forrester Research, spending on this technology, ranging from automation to advertising technology, to data and analytics is expected to increase to more than $46 billion by 2022.

3. Fiscal responsibility and demonstrated value

With increased budgets comes incremental responsibility and expectations of fiscal discipline. It is not enough to justify ROI through a business case, CMOs must also demonstrate value quickly.

The failure to do so is a key reason why the CMO has the shortest tenure in the C-suite. CMOs need to acquire additional skills or face the consequences. Forrester predicts that CEOs will terminate at least 30 percent of their CMOs who do not align their skillset and demonstrate value.

4. Support growth:

In addition to demonstrating value today, CMOs must also help position the financial institution for future growth and profitability. This requires the capability to determine and clearly articulate the company’s value proposition, build a team with the right skillset to deliver upon it, and then align it to the right customers.

According to Laura Ipsen, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Oracle Marketing Cloud, to build effective marketing teams, CMOs need to focus on building their team with 4 organizational capabilities in mind: acumen, alignment, agility, and accountability. When considering acumen, some of the capabilities required are Customer Insights, Digital Marketing, Content Development, Evaluative and Predictive Analytics.

5. Generate ‘big ideas’:

Generating big ideas also falls on the shoulders of the financial institutions CMO. CMOs need to build a passion into their bank or credit unions brand that carries above and beyond the tactics their talented teams execute on, day by day. While analytics and agility are needed to operate in today’s market environment, it should not get in the way with the ‘big ideas’ needed to build authentic customer connections through emotional experiences.

Executing marketing plans across the financial institution will not doubt face barriers and resistance. Of these, breaking down departmental silos may prove to be the top challenge CMO’s may face delivering on their customer-centric objectives. Jason Galloway, Advisory Managing Director, Customer Solutions, KPMG believes “as a CMO, if you really want to manage the customer experience, you’re going to have to do it through the power of influence,” and we agree. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share them with us at

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