The rapidly evolving, demanding role of the CMO

Building trust and competence.

A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or head marketing manager is a corporate executive responsible for overseeing marketing activities in an organization. This role increasingly includes broad Chief Customer/Commercial Officer (CCO) responsibilities, as is the case for 25 of 100 Fortune 100 companies. Regardless of specific designation, the CMO/CCO requires high-level leadership and collaboration skills to bring internal unity to marketing, sales, product development and customer service. Above all, this executive role includes primary responsibility for driving business growth and increasing market share, the reason some CMOs are now choosing the title, Chief Influence Officer (CIO).

A lower percentage of CEOs have a marketing background than in the past. Many are from finance or operations. This may explain why CEOs frequently offload vital company tasks to their CMOs without consultation or giving them the authority required to orchestrate strategy and policy among other executives. The result? –When things don’t work out, the CMO is held responsible.

What CEOs need to understand about their CMO

Because a CMO/CCO is indispensable in driving an organization’s goals, a CEO needs to take an active role in working with them and supporting their needs. Close personal involvement will also help them determine whether their CMO has the skills required to drive company success in our digital age. Recent research shows that 53% of high performers are early tech adopters vs. only 7% that underperform. Therefore, without demonstrated competence in digital marketing, a CMO is less able to harness big data to create the more personalized marketing messaging that works in today’s environment.

Recommendations for CEO-CMO involvement–

  • If you’re a CEO, begin by investigating what’s happening within your company’s various target demographics. Work with your CCO to get a sense of how those different customer segments are changing. Using big data, evaluate social media feedback on your products and brand. Then, explore the evolving dynamic of how your customers are making purchase decisions. –Finally, be aware that you add credibility to your brand when you as CEO contribute directly to customer communications.
  • Empower your CMO by fostering collaboration between them and leaders of other units of your organization. If the CEO doesn’t do this, leaders of other business units are likely to delegate marketing tasks to subordinates, with disappointing results. For this reason, all executives and managers need to be trained in the importance of marketing as well as what they can do to support its initiatives.
  • Give your CCO the help they need to coordinate with you in evolving or transforming your business into a marketing organization. They will need your guidance on all elements of any transition, whether evolutionary or radical. This ranges from organizational development requirements to training new specialists.

In my next Insights article, I’ll describe major marketing trends all CMOs/CCOs need to understand.

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