December 01, 2021
Growth engineering — the data-driven practice of mapping routes to revenue to achieve persistent performance — has become a critical strategic imperative. Most notably, driven by intermittent pandemic shut-downs, economic disequilibrium, digital workplace transformation, supply chain disruption, digital commerce expansion, cost escalation and greater competitive intensity from web-native ventures.
These significant forces and factors are having a profound impact on the need to increase customer value, scale global operations, improve product success, as well as rethink and adapt business models and go-to-market strategies using revenue science solutions and AI-driven analytics.
For many companies, growth is the driving force that brings it all together. Yet questions loom: Where do you find it? How do you inspire it? What hinders it? How do you invest in it? Who within the organization orchestrates and owns it?
This dynamic environment helps explain the increasing incidence and influence of the chief growth officer (CGO), as well as chief revenue and commercial officers. Currently, more than 6,000 executives profiled on LinkedIn have the CGO title, and the number is rapidly increasing. Another 15,000 have the title of chief revenue officer, while approximately 28,000 executives say they are chief commercial officers.
According to Singular, a marketing intelligence platform company, more than 21% of brands with at least $50 million in annual ad spend now have CGOs. A similar percentage of companies with annual ad spend of $5 million to $10 million also have CGOs.
Major companies in fast-moving consumer goods brands, including Coca-Cola, Kimberley-Clark, and Mars, Incorporated, have newly minted CGOs while eliminating the chief marketing officer (CMO) title —suggesting a fundamental shift in thinking, and, potentially, a downgrading of marketing’s stature in the board room.
However, the rise of the CGO represents as big an opportunity for CMOs as it does a threat. CMOs who are prepared to assume the role can finally seize the necessary authority and cross-functional alignment required to truly drive top-line growth—a factor they are often evaluated for but not fully empowered to influence. For many marketing leaders, the expectation that growth is their primary mandate already exists as research by the CMO Council one of every four business leaders surveyed believe the CMO is primarily responsible for growth strategies and revenue generation.
Pressure to deliver top-line performance is mounting, with nearly 70% of marketers saying their companies expect marketing to be the primary revenue driver and business growth architect. Yet, marketers also indicate that they are under-involved in key levers for growth, such as the development of new products, markets, customer experiences, and business conversions.
New CGOs, in fact, have often previously held CMO roles. Nonetheless, some major companies are turning to other executives to take over the reins of growth.
The Need for Cross-functional Alignment
Regardless of who holds the title, the emerging role of growth leader must have the authority and capacity to work across and align the key functional areas in an organization that drive growth, including marketing, sales, product, customer experience, technology, and analytics.
Growth leaders must be strategic and organizational change agents and risk takers who have the capacity to recognize, through data-driven research and analysis, where the best opportunities for growth lie and what is required to seize them. They must also possess the skills and determination to drive those changes across the organization and the company’s broader ecosystem. All of this is impossible without a clear mandate from the CEO and board.
Growth strategy alignment requires the buy-in of the entire organization, and it begins with a well-articulated strategy and direction that is understood and embraced by all functional areas of a company. Growth leaders and experts universally point to the need for a clear and succinct strategy that can be easily explained and grasped at all levels of the organization.
The Growth Guidance Center is a new knowledge transfer initiative by the CMO Council and Business Performance Innovation Network designed to help senior executives explore and deploy best practices in growth engineering. For more information visit: http://growthguidancecenter.com/
Donovan Neale-May is the founder and executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, the Growth Officer Council (www.growthguidancecenter.com), and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network (www.bpinetwork.org), a global community of executive change agents driving business reinvention, IT transformation, and process improvement across the enterprise.
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