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Why today’s CMOs have to be transformed into CDOs

Before transformation of your company from a traditional to digital. Make sure your chief marketing officer is digitally transformed first. Let’s be real. Most CMOs are old. They are from the old school of thought. They don’t understand digital completely. They lack clarity. So they play safe.

They don’t understand, when it comes to new platforms, content or behavior. They reject the evolved or transformed digital output. So they ask their team/juniors to learn digital. But when it comes to approving. They reject and fall back to their old ways. This frustrates the juniors. As one side your boss is telling you to go digital with your content and strategy. But then rejects your digital work. It’s an incredibly hypocritical behavior.

This has been my experience with a top 500 Cr company that I worked in. Most CMOs don’t tweet, but like going to digital and social media conferences. They like taking picture or giving awards. But don’t post that content or use that as promotional material for their personal brand or company’s brand.

They try to show they are digital by just attending and not participating. Google and see how many CMOs actually post original blogs or contribute. They love using jargons when talking, but it’s all a word vomit if you see the big picture.

I’ve been to several conferences in my space. Maybe even all. And what I see there is. The same people say the exact same things. With the same words. In all these different places. It’s hilarious sometimes, it’s like listening to a broken record.

Let me tell you why. So as human beings, we hate change. “My kids are on the phone and don’t go out to play”. That’s something you hear a lot and people think it’s sad. But its how our generation communicates. Like sure sending messages tied to a pigeon was cool in the late 90s and early 2000s for militaries but now they can send a text or use a satellite phone. Coming back to the point, we hate change. So when change does occur we fall back to what we hold dear.

For these CMOs. That’s traditional. So they try some new digital strategy. But expect instant ROI. Nothing happens overnight. So when they don’t like these results. They fall back to the old ways and justifying it by saying it works. The truth is it did work  – but not anymore.

So the reason why a CMO is not doing digital (unless he is agnostic) is that it does not align with their short term financial interests. Ask CMOs when was the last time they initiated themselves by learning content, or inbound marketing. Or by giving online tests to see how they doing. They are busy making PPTs on these things for internal reference but are all struggling on the inside.

CMOs need to wake up. They can’t even evaluate a digital agency. Since they have limited skill/context. They don’t know what’s relevant as per the generation. They are still confused between a copy writer and a content writer. They think both are same. Sad.

Here’s my two cents on what you need to do to win:
1. Read these books/ audiobooks- Buyer personas, Influencer: psychology of perception & The Content formula
2. Give Hubspots exams on inbound and content marketing
3. Don’t see digital through your traditional lens
4. Consume relevant YouTube videos or podcasts to keep up with what’s happening (Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM or Gary Vaynerchuck)
5. Understand content marketing in relation to the customers buying cycle
6. Appreciate new age designs and concepts
7. Read : Inbound marketing books like: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series)

If you are a CMO, ask yourself. Which are the platforms you have an account on. The likes of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Now ask when was the last time you actually contributed to any of these platforms?

Subhobroto Chakroborty is the Founder & Chief Digital Officer at The Digital Fellow.
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