News & Insights

The Rise of the Sustainable CMO

By Annie Longsworth

Abstract photo of greenery with text reading: The Sustainable CMO.

“The Sustainable CMO,” outlines how today’s CMO can achieve unprecedented business success by embracing sustainable values and practices.

This blog post is based on a recent white paper “The Sustainable CMO” developed by RF|Binder’s Head of Social Impact and Sustainability Annie Longsworth, Chief Operating Officer of SupplyShift, Jamie Barsimantov, and Founder and CEO of Possible, Etienne White.

To access the full white paper click here.

Take a moment to consider the role of the Chief Marketing Officer today compared to 20 years ago.

In some ways, it might seem that today’s CMOs still serve largely the same purpose that they always did. But consider the changes in technology, the advent of social media, the movement of brand activism – just to scratch the surface – and it becomes clear that both the scope and sphere of the CMO’s work have shifted dramatically. Internally, CMOs wear many more hats than they once did, working more closely with CFOs and collaborating with others in the C-suite. And while CMOs have more influence than ever before, particularly as they speak out on broader societal issues and challenges, research has shown they are under greater pressure to demonstrate results in a shorter period of time.

Against this backdrop, the role of CMO now faces a critical and exciting juncture – and CMOs who embrace new developments and trends could be poised for greater success than ever before. One such trend: an increasing focus on sustainability and sustainable values, across both operations and marketing.

Last week, Annie Longsworth, RF|Binder’s Head of Social Impact and Sustainability, outlined the growing connection between sustainability and marketing in a webinar titled “The Sustainable CMO,” which she led alongside Jamie Barsimantov, COO of SupplyShift, and Etienne White, Founder and CEO of Possible. The webinar, hosted by Ethical Corporation, focused on the idea that the “Sustainable CMO” is a different kind of CMO. The Sustainable CMO:

1. Embraces media fragmentation and nimbly adapts to the continually shifting media landscape

2. Harnesses technology trends, such as personalization, blockchain and artificial intelligence, and sees how they can help their brands stay ahead of the competition

3. Lives in the sharing economy where both people and planet can benefit as a result of established business models being disrupted to fit a fragmented audience base and hyper-personalized customer experience

4. Thinks futuristically, already predicting tomorrow’s opportunities by recognizing deep cultural shifts and new societal trends

5. Is a natural born collaborator, focusing on “collaborative advantage” to work with others

6. Values purpose and embeds it within their business model

7. Champions employees and their contributions to brand strength

8. Promotes diversity and inclusion within their workforce

9. Is authentic and brings personal stories to work initiatives

10. Views sustainability as an accelerator for innovation that can lead to business success

Sustainability can be immensely valuable for the CMO because of its ability to protect a brand’s reputation, garner consumer trust and loyalty, and drive innovation. That value proposition shows up in three key areas that are most of interest to the CMO:

1. Managing risk by addressing ESG policies and practices head on

2. Driving sales by offering consumers products that are better for them and for the planet

3. Creating transformative innovation in a world requiring urgent attention to limited natural resources

In an era of brand transparency and brand purpose, the CMO has become one of the most important C-suite roles. We predict that 2019 will be a watershed year for the Chief Marketing Officer role. By integrating more sustainable values into their marketing strategy, CMOs can anticipate greater brand-building benefits that will undoubtedly lead to enhanced brand reputation while meeting critical business objectives for their organization.

Learn more about the Sustainable CMO in our white paper, developed in conjunction with SupplyShift and Possible, found here.

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