One of the most elusive and challenging executive roles in larger corporations is that of the chief marketing officer (CMO). Typically responsible for all aspects of marketing, from initial product and sales pipeline development to customer retention, the CMO's role is both broad and significant. In fact, the pressure on most CMOs is so tremendous that the average tenure of a consumer brand CMO was 45 months in 2012. With such relatively high turnover, job security can be tenuous. Corporate marketers, agencies, and vendors looking for a long-term relationship with their CMOs must be able to make a positive and lasting impression on them. The following article outlines five key areas offering the greatest opportunity to impress your CMO.
Apply your understanding of roles and responsibilities
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned as a lifelong agency account manager and owner is the importance of developing a deep understanding of your client in order to have a productive and lasting relationship. Possessing working knowledge of the CMO's current roles and responsibilities is the essential starting point for a successful relationship. Beyond the standard CMO job description, each company has unique perspectives and expectations for this role. Make sure you know how your CMO differs from others.
A relatively new addition to the C-level executive suite, the CMO role has evolved beyond oversight of brand and marketing initiatives over the years. The modern CMO is being asked to own the customer experience through the entire product lifecycle, not just the top of the sales funnel. This requires breaking down internal silos and mapping marketing to the customer experience, rather than internal infrastructure. The modern CMO must rely heavily on technology vendors, data aggregators, and multiple agencies to measure marketing efforts, gain insights, and generate results.
Above all else, a CMO's survival is based on his or her ability to demonstrate a measurable return on investment (ROI) on any and all marketing efforts to the CEO and the rest of the C-suite. In some cases, the C-suite must first be educated on the value of marketing and the value of a CMO overseeing marketing efforts. Most CEOs, however, see the value of someone overseeing the "big picture" for the brand and understand that the role requires agile, creative thinking. Unfortunately, technology, social media, and changes in the way our culture consumes media makes the CMO's success a moving mark.
Experts within the marketing community believe the evolving CMO role will become more of a "project manager" who understands fully integrated issues, bringing together concepts of data, design, public relations, marketing, and advertising. The previous path from VP sales to CMO will become extinct in the near future, as a broader set of skills, knowledge, and experience will be required. In other words, the modern CMO's role will be all-encompassing, as the CMO will be playing the roles of collaborator and coordinator across the organization. Other experts believe the CMO title may someday be replaced by the chief customer officer (CCO), as a deeper understanding of the customer will ultimately lead to smarter marketing.