In a recent DNA of a Growth CMO study, produced by Human 1.0 and SAP, in partnership with The CMO Club and the Global CMO Community, it was uncovered that Growth CMOs – those CMOs who take an active part in the growth agenda of their companies – build their success on a cultural foundation that includes market-centricity. Market-centricity goes beyond customer-centricity in that it also includes prospects, influencers, and fans – audiences that are absolutely needed to ensure the future of any organization. Indeed, it was management guru Peter Drucker, who said that most firms should focus their new product innovation on non-customers, since 70% of all customers that will be needed to ensure a firm’s future revenue are not currently customers.
As you may imagine, there are many levels of market-centricity, with very few companies achieving true market-centricity. To be truly market and customer-centric, it takes more than having your CEO declare, “From now on, we will put the customer first.” True market-centricity has to be part of the fabric of your corporate culture; it has to become part of your corporate DNA. If you were to stop a random person in the halls of a true customer-centric company, and ask them what they were doing for the company, they would not give you back their title, but instead tell you about the projects they are working on, what their role is, and how their work impacts both the customer and the company. They have a more holistic worldview of their roles and put their customers at the center of that worldview, rather than their products or their company.
Needless to say, market-centricity cannot exist in a silo – you cannot have a standalone project called “corporate market-centricity project.” Since every employee has to put the customer and the end-to-end experience at the center of everything they do, you also need a culture of trust. After all, how can you expect your customers to trust that you will deliver against your brand promise, if you don’t trust your employees who have to deliver that ultimate end-to-end experience? In this day and age, where rapid change is the new normal, you also need a data-driven culture to achieve true market-centricity – making sure everyone uses data to drive customer experiences based on insights. The ever-increasing rate of change, both inside your organization and outside, is also why you need a learning culture, and an agile one at that.
It may be worth pausing here to state the obvious: culture is not something that you embed in corporate policy books or other high-level corporate documents. Culture resides in the belief system that your employees share the underlying assumptions that drive their decision-making, the language they use, and the rituals they enjoy – culture is the operating system of your organization. To many of you, that may sound squishy and soft, but Growth CMOs and their executive peers have found ways to operationalize their culture as part of their growth agendas.
Not coincidentally, our DNA of a Growth CMO study confirmed that Growth CMOs do indeed build their success on a cultural foundation of market-centricity supported by trust cultures, data-driven cultures, risk-intelligence and learning cultures. Those Growth CMOs who have those cultural underpinnings enjoy benefits in the areas of talent retention, word of mouth and innovation that are not just incremental, but truly transformative.
Market-centricity is hard to achieve, and there are very few companies that would rank high on a market-centricity scale. True market-centricity cannot be dictated from the top down; it needs to grow organically, with the support of the executive team, to become part of the fabric of the organization. Many companies that are aspiring to become market-centric should approach it as a journey – not a destination.
Learn how some CMOs are transforming their organizations to become more market-centric here.
Francois Gossieaux – Co-President, Human 1.0
Francois Gossieaux is a former CMO and currently co-president at Human 1.0. He is the co-author of the Hyper-Social Organization and the co-author of an upcoming book on the topic of “operationalizing culture.” He conducts regular CMO interviews as part of his ongoing industry research.