The Transformation Troubles of a CMO

And how to overcome them

The Transformation Troubles of a CMO
Written by
Rachel Fox
Published on
June 6, 2024

Through my own experience as a Marketing leader, and from working with a wide range of clients at Loop Horizon, it’s clear that the role of a CMO is ever-evolving but increasingly challenging. Especially when embarking on a data-driven transformation, the pressure to deliver value, whilst practically aligning with other parts of a business, bringing your teams along with the change and of course thinking about your customers throughout is a tricky balance to achieve. Here are a few of the challenges that I regularly hear and how to overcome them.

Are we doing this for the right reasons?

Time and time again we hear from Marketing leaders who are embarking on a transformation but haven’t yet been fully involved in the what, when, how or why. Though senior marketers will be constantly driving forward performance optimisation and the need to utilise new data and technology developments, often the internal trigger for action actually comes not from a well justified and painstakingly created business case, but an un-related decision on a technology partner or an urgent fix for a legacy database. (Or dare I mention the “We just need to get a CDP” approach?!) Whatever the trigger may be to get things kick-started, strong use case development and ownership of the “how will this actually deliver value” strategy is critical to success and one for the CMO to drive easily and focus everyone on throughout.

How do I show real value, in the short and long term?

As soon as any investment is made at this type of scale, the pressure mounts to deliver ROI quickly. The rest of the board and shareholders will want to see signs of impact and value, and with that there is a risk that short term decisions are made to appease this pressure. Instead, clear alignment to growth strategy, strong communication of expectations and timelines and an iterative approach will enable consistent, realistic and ever-growing value delivery. By initially activating priority use cases and then iterating through strategic themes, the value opportunity and potential is proved early on and then nurtured in the most effective way based on learnings and analysis. It also allows teams to understand, adapt and embed the operational and mindset change required enabling genuine buy-in and longevity.

Why don’t the data teams understand what we need?

Ah the Art of Translation, it’s the age old dilemma of Marketing, Data and Tech teams not all speaking the same “language”. Or more often than not thinking that what they want/need/think is fully understood by everyone involved, then finding out weeks later that it was interpreted very differently. The importance of translation shouldn’t be underestimated but can easily addressed through common goals, detailed specification, vigilant facilitation and sometimes some healthy but hearty debate.

How do I mitigate risks along the way?

When there is so much investment and pressure, there isn’t much margin for error.. What are the risks and how can they be avoided, whilst not restricting the ambition or speed of delivery? Smart decisions can be made based on knowledge, experience and clear guiding principles. Being comfortable with some course correcting helps, as well as being open to advice from others who have been through this before.

How do I maintain the customer experience throughout?

How do we keep the customer experience running whilst we’re changing things behind the scenes? This isn’t just about improving the marketing communication performance, but improving the experience your customers have with through their full relationship with you. The best way to ensure customer focus throughout is to develop strategic OKRs and journeys with a customer mindset up front and they will act as your constant guide. In terms of the transfer experience itself, it won’t happen overnight (no matter what platform providers may tell you in their sales pitch), and will likely require numerous phases across technology, data and marketing application, so be aware, realistic and prepared.


These are a few of the themes that we know first-hand CMOs face in to, but they’re all part of the challenge and of course the fun that the opportunity to transform really brings.


 Written by Rachel Fox MD, Marketing

Rachel guides fellow Marketing leaders through strategy development to enabling practical and valuable delivery, with a healthy dose of change management too. With a strategic, pragmatic and empathetic style she has the experience and understanding of the situations you’ll find yourself in and can therefore help guide you through the big picture and day-to-day requirements so you can reach your goals with confidence. 

If you’d like to chat to Rachel about any issues you’re facing, get in touch today