two kings

Drop the CMO. Hire a CXO.

I’d like to propose something that sounds radical. But it’s really common sense. And it’s already happening right under our noses.

The Chief Marketing Officer. A thing of the past. It implies marketing to people. It presupposes that the product or service has already been determined, and we’re merely ‘positioning’ it. It comes with terms like “consumer” (are we Pacman? herds of sheep, consuming our way across the landscape?). It holds us to the functions and compartments of the past. It holds us back.

Let’s replace this position with what really matters today. The Chief Experience Officer. A CXO, as it were. Brands, in virtually all categories, are experiences. They are, when done beautifully, holographic decks on Star Trek, where the “experiencer” is helping to program the very experience. Brands are the “gestalt” of an end to end, or better yet, endless and borderless experience that has been co-designed and co-created with the experiencer.

And let’s name the obvious categories where this is already starting to take place, despite the lag in nomenclature:

– Hospitality, with forward thinking chains like Ace Hotels and Kimpton

– Retail, in fits and starts with new innovators in what used to be called “malls”

– Entertainment and Lifestyle, such as Disney’s new “fairy tale wedding” play

– Airlines – a select few, such as Virgin, or extraordinary luxury offerings like Emirates

The people who should be reporting to the CXO should include experts in customer experience design, environmental/product/packaging design, customer insights/shopper behavior, branding, creative technologies, music, fine arts, kinesthetics — an eclectic assortment of creative, technological, experiential and psychological geniuses who are never allowed to put blinders on and are constantly encouraged to see the customer’s experience in a holistic and empathetic manner.

And this area should be cross-functionally tied to Operations. Quite frankly, if I were king for a day, I would consider putting Operations entirely under the CXO in certain companies. Operations is fundamental to delivering a consistently delightful and on brand experience. Creating separate functions called “Marketing” and “Operations” in today’s world is simply a clunky old model that has to go.

Long live the CXO

– W.