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You may have noticed an increase in progressive brands employing new types of “C” suite executive positions, such as CNOs (Chief Networking Officers) and CSOs (Chief Strategy Officers). I want to discuss the CGO (Chief Growth Officer), why it’s important to understand their duties and why structures are changing.
So, what is a CGO? It is one of the most important new positions in a progressive organization. More than just a CMO, the CGO bridges traditional operational silos, acting as a catalyst for internal alignment between departments, allowing for cross-functional collaboration and eradicating barriers to growth. The role is rapidly growing in popularity, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes an essential position for businesses of all sizes.
Hopefully, if you’ve arrived here, you’ve already read my article, “5 Tactical Tips to Grow Your Brand.” The CGO is the person who brandishes the ‘Marketing Whip’, guiding the brand’s consumer engagement wherever they are in the GTM (go-to-market) cycle. They blend their broad expertise in marketing, sales, finance and product development with relevant data to refine strategies across all functional groups. A CGO needs to analyze customer experience, demand and trends in order to maximize brand loyalty and retention. Finding innovative ways to glean insights, execute action from operational data and communicate the brand’s vision at scale is imperative to their success.
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I am a firm believer that having a single set of hyper-focused, educated eyes to track large endeavors from start to finish is vital. Founders like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos share the similarity of being adamantly involved in all aspects of their companies from the get-go. Founders who have a comprehensive understanding of their brand, functional groups and operations are able to greenlight actions and adjust projects on the fly in any department according to the brand’s needs. This allows companies to become very nimble, very quickly.
A great example of this would be Amazon’s 6-pager. Have you ever wondered how Amazon can possibly focus on so many businesses at once? It’s because Jeff Bezos innovated a way to bring groups up to speed quickly, in great detail and at scale, allowing for instant critical decision-making from key players.
Having someone in the CGO position melts away obstacles, consolidates company focus and ensures that the brand’s product, campaigns and messaging do not become diluted by process or committees at any stage of the go-to-market (GTM) process. At the moment, the bulk of large brands have founders who have either passed away, moved on, or are not capable of spanning all the functional group disciplines. This is where modern brands opt for a CGO.
This position is a natural, inevitable progression of the corporate structure, but why now? The short answer is: modern speed to market. The era of free, endlessly available digital content has created a monumental shift in how companies approach their GTM. Not only do they need to embrace the challenges of the ever-accelerating digital evolution, but they also need to change the way they launch their products and adapt to the lightning-fast pace of today’s brick-and-mortar (B&M) market.
Understanding and engaging with today’s hyper-educated, segmented consumers is far more complex than it was 20 years ago, with more brands and more products in the market to compete with. Brands need to adjust the way they cultivate social impact in the never-ending fight to retain relevancy and market share. Traditional methods used to scale an organization are no longer sustainable, especially for large brands in the B&M, digital and B2C markets.
In today’s era, organizations need a more agile and holistic approach to execute decisions quickly and effectively while meeting the changing needs of the consumer. By transcending siloed departments, the CGO aims to eliminate bottlenecks, optimize resources, consolidate agendas, streamline priorities, implement efficient processes, establish veilless operations and instill transparent communication. With departments aligned and strategies in motion, it allows the entire organization to embrace a laser-like focus on the end goal: strategic growth.
To summarize, here are my top five reasons (amongst many) why modern brands need to adjust their business structure and hire a CGO:
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1. Communication and barriers
To keep up with competitors and the ever-accelerating digital market, organizations need to align internal departments to allow for faster and more efficient cross-functional collaboration. In order to do this, they need someone to dissolve the long-standing structural silos, eradicate internal barriers and implement crystal-clear communication between teams (a CGO).
With a bird’s-eye view of operations, finance, sales and marketing, the CGO can streamline departmental pipelines and have teams working towards a single, hyper-focused shared goal.
3. Speed to market
The digital era is here, meaning processes are sharper and faster, with endless options. For old-fashioned brands, modern speed to market can feel like someone just hit the fast-forward button. Brick-and-mortar brands have no choice but to adapt to the modern, digital pace or risk dying out.
4. Consumer engagement
Engaging with today’s consumer isn’t as simple as it used to be. Brands need to analyze customer experience, demand and trends, driving cross-functional engagement strategies accordingly. A CGO can make this happen.
5. Brand stewardship
The appearance and messaging of your brand and products are exceptionally important, but it’s incredibly easy for design and messaging to get watered-down as they filter through processes, multiple departments and staff members. Brands these days need stewardship, ensuring continuity and on-point branding throughout the entire GTM process.
Look out! Marketing is set to become a much broader discipline that influences every aspect of a business, including sales, operations, IT, finance, business development and customer support. CGOs are here to facilitate this and determine new pathways for evolution.
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