Technology’s Impact on the CMO: An Exclusive Q&A with Toni Lee Rudnicki of TLR Consulting

by Jenna Sindle

Toni Lee Rudnicki, founder of TLR Consulting

The digital age has brought a growing emphasis on technical capabilities in the marketing world, particularly for the CMO. Marketing can no longer exist as a strictly creative role. The ability to capture and interpret data and map campaign impact is crucial.

Here to discuss technology’s impact on marketing is Toni Lee Rudnicki, founder of TLR Consulting.

Tell us a little about your background and your current role at TLR Consulting.

I have a technical background and I have been fortunate to use that knowledge throughout my marketing career.  My experience ranges from startups to Fortune 100 companies. I love building a strategy for companies that are at an inflection point and ready for that next stage of growth. This is the time when, as a marketer, you see the impact your work has on a company.   What a ride that is! The sheer exhilaration in making that happen is unparalleled!

Before starting TLR Consulting, I was the Chief Marketing Officer at iDirect and TANDBERG. I am now using that experience to help small to mid-size companies that are at an inflection point, but cannot yet afford a CMO.  I act as their CMO bringing the strategic positioning and messaging to support their growth to the next level.

You’ve held many positions in the marketing world, including Marketing VP and CMO. Can you speak to the differences between these roles’ responsibilities and priorities?

The priorities between the role of a CMO and a role of a VP of marketing are very different.  The CMO is a very strategic role; the CMO is a business partner to the CEO and CFO to create the business strategy, vision and corporate direction. Marketing is seen as a source of revenue with an emphasis on the financials and ability to build a business case for target markets.  Key responsibilities for a CMO are segmentation, positioning, differentiation, seeing new markets before others, seizing the opportunities to be number one in a market.  A CMO is responsible for the full life cycle of marketing:  Market development, product management, product marketing and marketing communications.  Through the whole lifecycle, you must stay on top of the industry and adjust the strategy as the industry evolves.  The CMO’s focus is on the business.

The VP of Marketing is focused on executing tactical marketing programs through marketing vehicles, such as tradeshows, press releases, and social media.  In the marketing lifecycle, it is the marketing communication segment.  Marketing here is seen as a cost center.  The VP of Marketing focus is on the brand, awareness and lead generation.

The CMO role has rapidly evolved with the move to digital and increased emphasis on marketing technology. How has this impacted your career?

The move to digital has dramatically impacted my career.  Very few people get their first impressions of a company from the corporate website. Print is about gone. The world is more dynamic, more instantaneous, more available.

Data analytics is crucial. The information could be used to continually improve a campaign as it is running based on the interactions.  Or in the world of personalized marketing the data is used to fine tune a campaign for that person, by understanding the customer journey person by person.  The well thought out integrated campaigns no longer exists. They have been replaced with dynamic, learning campaigns based upon knowledge.

Although creative will always be part of marketing, many of these roles are being replaced with people who have strong financial and data analytics skills to drive marketing to have more hard metrics.

As 2016 begins to wind down, what are your top marketing priorities in 2017?

Top priorities in 2017 will be:

  • Data analytics to allow marketing to be seen as a source of revenue
  • Focus on the customer journey person by person
  • Increased use of social media to stay connected with the customers in the time they desire.