Conquering the CMO Challenge

The role of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) has shifted in organizations. Today CMOs have a broader, more strategic position that comes with  higher expectations to attain results, and quickly. The rapidly evolving media landscape makes it exceptionally difficult to keep up. According to a Duke University survey of top CMOs, among their many responsibilities, they rated the following as their top priorities:

  1. Be the Voice of the Customer at the Leadership Table

Advertising agencies used to typically take the lead on knowing the customer inside and out for their clients. Agency planners, specifically, were responsible for the target audience point-of-view from their vast research. Increasingly though, CMOs are realizing this is now their job.

With the explosion of tactical options across paid, earned and owned mediums, someone needs to own the consumer voice across the many platforms available today. To manage this tactical conundrum, CMOs typically deal with multiple agencies. That leaves them to ensure the customer journey is consistent, relevant and memorable across all mediums. 
2. Lead Key Growth Initiatives Across the Enterprise

The CMO role is a transient one these days. Hires are typically from outside the company and the amount of time they stay is short-lived, compared to other positions.

72 percent of publicly reported chief marketing officer appointments in the first half of 2017 were external hires, up from 64 percent this time last year. This trend suggests internal CMO succession planning is a major challenge and moving on is the path to moving up in this role. Both scenarios continue to feed into the transient nature of the role today.

CMOs are increasingly subject to the pressures of delivering results in the short-term from their CEOs who want a good quarter. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average tenure for chief marketing officers working for the county’s biggest brands has fallen for the second year in a row. A CEO tenure was 7.2 years among the S&P 500 in 2016, while CMO tenure was only 5.7 years among the Fortune 500.

3. Demonstrate Impact

While connecting with target audiences has become increasingly complex, the ability to track online activity is quite simple. Tracking the Marketing Return on Investment (MROI), has become central to any CMOs’ key responsibilities. Any given marketing line item is expected to produce results, like an asset might. However, marketing expenditures are still considered an expense in the CEO and CFOs’ minds.

No longer is it about just having a strong grasp of the business category and analytics. Being an effective CMO today means having the strategic aptitude to create a smart plan, the know-how to manage the right teams to implement and the tenacity to measure results and adjust the plan over time.