InsightsPOSTED July 6, 2018

4 takeaways from AMA’s CMO Panel

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AMA Panel

The APEX team had an opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association’s Toronto chapter  annual CMO panel event, which brought several leading Canadian marketing executives together for a conversation about the state of their businesses:

Naturally, disruption was the central theme of the discussion and panelists didn’t hold back sharing how their organizations were responding to change.

Here are 4 insights our team came away from the event with:

  1. Traditional marketing is (still) dead

Across the board, marketing and advertising is undergoing a radical shift. Traditional advertising in the form of the 30-second TV ad is as good as dead and this next generation of consumers will have limited engagement with them. Marketers who fail to adapt, won’t be around for long.

Consumer expectations are obviously changing too – and fast. From increased expectations around transparency and supply chain, to fairness of pricing and marketing claims, organizations must adapt to a more engaged and increasingly digitally-savvy consumer.

We heard that panelists are continuing to invest in video, PR and influencer marketing. From a strategy perspective, marketers are relying on their agency partners to help chart a path in this non-traditional and multi-channel environment.

  1. Disruption is a mindset

Disruption is everywhere, and we heard that organizations that are able to embrace disruption as a mindset and “move fast and fail fast,” will be among the organizations that are best able to evolve their businesses.

There was healthy debate on whether companies can effectively disrupt themselves from within, with some panelists taking the view that keeping innovation teams separate is more effective. To help promote “disruption as a mindset,” panelists shared stories of how they have invited partners into their organizations to help drive change through “hackathon” type events to uncover opportunities for change.

We heard that when it comes to grappling with disruption and encouraging the use of new technologies, customer-facing employees are an often an overlooked audience. Panelists shared insights around how employees need to be given the tools and the training to carry the organization’s innovation message forward.

  1. Customer experience is even more important to the CMO

We heard that organizations that can maintain a relentless focus on the customer and create truly exceptional customer experiences are able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The panelists agreed with AMA’s CMO survey respondents that in the coming years, marketers will work to “own” the customer experience (CX) and expand their scope and responsibilities. Panelists agreed that digital will be the primary driver for customer experience moving forward, though there will be many opportunities to improve the experience for in-person point-of-sale.

  1. But, still trying to figure out Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The drive to integrate AI is strong but CMOs and senior marketers are challenged when it comes to evaluating the opportunity it presents for their organizations and the new digital tools required to integrate it effectively. We heard loud and clear that organizations are swimming in data, but are lacking the critical insights to drive decision-making. Marketers are wary of AI’s technical requirements and usability and are concerned with what it could mean for team resourcing and headcount, as they do not want to be dependent on teams of data analysts to derive insights.

Jeff Roman is SVP, Integrated Communications at APEX Public Relations. Interested in learning more about how organizations are rethinking their marketing mix to better compete in a changing environment? Drop us a line at

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