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CMO of HSBC, Chris Clark, on staying relevant in the digital age

Peter Stojanovic

As the rise of digital and data analytics turns the role of marketing on its head, the role of CMO is getting trickier, but Chris Clarke of HSBC believes you just need focus.

As the progressive march of data analytics increases its pace, C-level roles are evolving, blending and, in some cases, requiring different skill sets.

Remaining relevant as a CMO is the digital age is one example, but it’s an issue which Chris Clark, CMO of HSBC, is aware of – and pragmatic about.

“With data, it’s about genuinely understanding what you can use that’s related to your business, your business’ performance and the customer and the actions and activities they undertake…”

Clark aims to stay focused on the task ahead.

As CMO of one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations, it would be easy to get lost in information, so Clark has to pinpoint which data sets are important.

“Don’t just look at everything you could possibly know…”

Alternatively, having an aim or having a step-by-step process can ensure remaining relevant as a CMO is an easier task. Clark has one such process for making sure he can understand HSBC’s customers.

“We tend to look at 3 trunks: the journey to choose…journey to buy…and journey to use…”

Clark and his team put themselves in the shoes of a potential customer.

In the first part of the journey, they visualize a customer and their decisions on how they choose a product and the methods and tools they use to refine their searches.

The journey to buy means HSBC has to understand “a second set of information of how and when to buy their product.”

The last stage is possibly the most important: once bought, how does the customer use their product? According to Clark it’s important to “…view these stages without iron bars between them and finding and using the data that improves these processes.”

In essence, remaining relevant as a CMO is less about knowing which marketing metrics to use, and more about understanding what to avoid.