Chief Marketing Officer 101
Marketing is a pivotal driver of business growth. A Fractional CMO is instrumental in harnessing this potential, especially for businesses that may not need or cannot afford a full-time CMO. To help you excel in this role, we offer a comprehensive suite of services designed to elevate your marketing strategy, drive brand recognition, and boost customer engagement.
Our offerings span strategic marketing consultation, digital marketing, advertising and media, data analysis and reporting, marketing technology consultation, and talent management and training. Each service empowers you as a Fractional CMO to effectively steer your organization’s marketing efforts, ensuring a strong and competitive market presence.
Strategic Marketing Consultation
- Competitive Analysis
- Market trends
- Competitor strategies
- Brand Positioning
- Brand identity and strategy
- Value proposition development
- Marketing Strategy Development
- Marketing objectives and KPIs
- Go-to-market strategy
Advertising and Media Services
- Advertising Strategy and Planning
- Market research
- Media buying
- Creative Development
- Creative concepting
- Ad design and production
- Campaign Management
- Campaign setup and launch
- Monitoring and optimizing campaign performance
Marketing Technology Consultation
- Marketing Technology Stack Evaluation
- Evaluation of existing tools
- Recommendations for new tools
- Marketing Automation
- Automation strategy
- Implementation of automation tools
Digital Marketing Services
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Keyword research
- Content optimization
- Link building
- Social Media Marketing
- Content creation
- Social media advertising
- Community management
- Email Marketing
- Campaign design and management
- Newsletter development
- Automated email sequences
Data Analysis and Reporting
- Marketing Analytics
- Traffic analysis
- Conversion analysis
- Performance Reporting
- Monthly performance reporting
- Quarterly business review
- Predictive Analytics
- Market forecasting
- Customer segmentation and behavior prediction
Talent Management and Training
- Team Structure and Roles
- Organizational structure review
- Role definition and recruitment support
- Training and Development
- Professional development planning
- Training workshops and seminars
Partner with us to unleash the full potential of your marketing strategy. Our team of experts is ready to provide the support and tools you need to lead your organization to new heights. Let’s create a powerful marketing narrative together.
Chief Marketing Officer 101
- What Is a CMO?
- What Does a CMO Do?
- How Do You Become a CMO?
- How Much Does a Chief Marketing Officer Make?
- Necessary Skillset for a Chief Marketing Officer
- Challenges Faced by Modern Chief Marketing Officers
- The Relationship Between the CMO and the CEO
- Who Reports to the CMO?
- Defining Success as the CMO
- Transforming the CMO Role for What Comes Next
What Is a CMO?
The CMO is a corporate executive belonging to the C-Suite and is responsible for overseeing the marketing activities of an organization. The C-Suite is a group of high-level corporate executives whose titles generally start with chief or end with officer. Other examples of C-Suite executives include the chief executive officer (CEO) and the chief operating officer (COO).
The Chief Marketing Officer’s Primary Function
The primary function of the CMO is to help their company increase profits by creating an effective, sustainable marketing plan that provides an edge over competitors. To do this, the chief marketing officer will oversee a team of marketing professionals who are generally assigned to specific marketing-related tasks.
For example, team members may include specialists in inbound marketing, paid advertising, social media, and email marketing. In larger companies, the team reporting to the CMO will manage their own small dedicated teams. In smaller companies, the CMO’s marketing team will be the only specialists in their field and won’t have managerial responsibilities. This can look different for every company.
A Wide Range of Marketing-Related Responsibilities
The chief marketing officer is responsible for a wide range of marketing-related tasks. Someone in this position is responsible for leading the following activities:
- Brand management
- Market research
- Product development
- Product management
- Marketing communications
- Customer service
- Product pricing
Typically, the chief marketing officer won’t handle these activities directly. Instead, they’ll oversee team members working on these activities. The CMO will create, update or cease marketing campaigns and related tasks through intense research and data analysis.
Basic CMO Qualifications
Every company will have its own unique requirements for its chief marketing officer. However, someone who hopes to become a CMO can aim to fulfill a basic set of qualifications that most companies will be looking for. To help their companies achieve key objectives and benchmarks in such a wide range of activities, the CMO needs to have several marketing and business-related skills.
Education RequirementsAt a minimum, someone hoping to become a CMO will need a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a closely related field. However, most companies prefer all their C-Suite executives to possess an MBA.
An MBA is a Master of Business Administration. It’s an internationally recognized degree explicitly designed for those hoping to develop the necessary skills for careers in management or business. There are several MBA options available, but those wishing to become a CMO should opt for one in marketing. However, many companies are also willing to accept an MBA in business.
Marketing and Managerial ExperienceA chief marketing officer must have several years of experience in marketing. Although freelance or independent marketing experience may be allowed, most companies prefer corporate-related marketing experience in their specific industry. Most companies also require their potential CMO to have previous managerial experience.
Other Crucial SkillsThe chief marketing officer needs strong leadership skills and the ability to work well in a team. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are also crucial in this position.
A proven understanding of data analysis and various marketing tools is beneficial. If someone doesn’t already possess these skills, it’s highly recommended they begin learning the most used tools in their specific industry.
What Does a CMO Do?
The chief marketing officer has a wide range of responsibilities that could look different from one company to the next. Larger companies may even have this position split between two people if the workload becomes too much for a single person.
Although the responsibilities of a CMO may look different from one company to the next, there are a few general marketing-related activities that generally fall within the position’s scope. These activities are outlined in more detail below.
Advertising activities can be generally defined as anything that promotes the company as a whole or its products and services to potential customers. Advertising can be done through many different channels and in various forms. For example, pay-per-click advertising, billboard advertising, and email marketing fall under this category. Other advertising activities may include content marketing, social media marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, and in-store advertising.
Brand management deals with creating a relationship between the company’s products and its target audience. Successful companies place a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with their customer base because it builds brand loyalty.
Some elements of brand management may be tangible. For example, product development, management, and pricing are intricately connected to brand management, despite being crucial activities of their own.
Some elements of brand management are intangible. For example, the personal experiences of customers and the general consensus of the target audience are both crucial to brand management.
Additionally, brand management tasks may include:
- Analyzing brand positioning and customer insights to make informed decisions moving forward
- Shaping and communicating the company vision and mission, as determined by the CEO
- Translating brand elements into plans and go-to-market strategies
- Using creative development skills to motivate the target audience to take action
- Devising innovative growth strategies
- Aligning the company around the brand’s direction, choices, voice, and tactics
The chief marketing officer will execute these activities by using various strategies. They’ll also use the assistance and expertise of their marketing team.
Each activity is meant to increase the media’s awareness of their company’s brand and allow current or potential customers to connect to that forward-facing image. By doing so, the CMO boosts the public’s perceived value of the brand and hopefully, sets it apart from what competitors are offering.
Marketing research is the process of gathering crucial information about a company’s target audience and using that information to make informed decisions. There are numerous ways a chief marketing officer (or those working beneath them) can gather this information.
A few examples of data collection methods that a CMO may use in marketing research include:
- Transactional data (created during online or in-person sales through the POS system)
- Customer surveys
- Focus group discussions
- Distributor surveys
- Website data, including views, clicks, and time spent on each page
- A/B split testing (specifically for product designs or marketing campaign options)
Market research is crucial because it helps identify the target audience’s needs and what the competition is currently doing that is or isn’t working. It can also help determine the popularity of the company’s products or services, which marketing methods are (or aren’t) working, and identify issues within any of these areas.
Besides using this data to make informed decisions, the chief marketing officer will also create presentations for the chief executive officer. In some circumstances (or companies), the CMO will also make these presentations to other C-Suite executives or the board of directors.
Product Development and Marketing
Product development is the process of creating new products (or services) that can be offered to customers. In this role, the chief marketing officer will conduct feasibility studies or proposed products and identify customer needs. The CMO will pass this information on to the product development team, who will then create products to fill the needs identified.
Product marketing involves preparing for and executing the launch of new products. The chief marketing officer will create promotions, monitor the competition, form new brand messages and receive customer feedback. This customer feedback can then be used as a crucial marketing research tool (as discussed above).
Marketing communications means managing how the company communicates information to the target audience. It’s the job of the chief marketing officer to ensure the message being conveyed is clear, consistent, and focused. The CMO must also ensure the message is sent through channels that will reach the desired audience.
The rise of the internet has made marketing communications both easier and more complicated. This job is made easier because the internet offers numerous channels of communication that are easily accessible to both the company and its audience. Unfortunately, figuring out which of these many channels is right can be challenging.
The message being communicated will always be the brand voice, image and vision. However, communications could revolve specifically about anything from company updates and new processes to discounts and promotions.
Marketing communication tools could include paid advertising, inbound marketing, direct marketing or sponsored events. It could also include in-store signage or physical advertisements. This is far from an all-inclusive list. Each chief marketing officer will need to determine the best communication tools for their company and the specific message.
The chief marketing officer plays a hand in pricing products, sometimes along with others, such as the chief financial officer or CEO. In this role, the CMO conducts market research on what similar products are selling for. They might also include how much it costs to produce the products in their feasibility studies.
Pricing is one of those roles that can change drastically from one company to the next. In one company, the CMO could play a more prominent role in product pricing, while in another, they may not contribute much (if anything) at all.
The chief marketing officer isn’t usually responsible for the entire customer service department. Instead, they’re in charge of the customer experience inside marketing. This might sound confusing until you realize how much company marketing affects the public.
When done correctly, marketing will be in front of potential customers regularly. Many modern marketing channels are two-way instead of traditional one-way. With a one-way marketing channel, the message is sent out and, although some feedback may be received, customers won’t directly interact with the message. The target audience can interact directly with the message through two-way marketing channels, and a free-flowing conversation can be opened up.
The most apparent two-way marketing channel is social media. Most companies are on at least one of the biggest social media platforms, which could include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. A few nontraditional social media platforms are also becoming increasingly popular, such as WhatsApp and TikTok. Other two-way marketing channels might include email marketing, telemarketing, and content marketing (especially blogging).
This is where the chief marketing officer will directly handle customer service and experience. The CMO will ensure the customer experience is exceptional within these two-way marketing channels. They’ll also ensure the company’s brand and overall reputation are being upheld during all interactions with customers through these channels.
The CMO Assists in Reputation Management
Reputation management isn’t a key responsibility for the chief marketing officer. However, they play a small role in assisting the chief communications officer (CCO) with the task.
The CMO is responsible for building the company’s brand image, vision and message. Since customers often identify companies by their branding versus their name or other physical identities, this brand creation is crucial to reputation management.
If the brand misrepresents the company or fails to be consistent in its messaging, the company’s reputation can be significantly damaged. Likewise, the company’s physical identities (customer service reps, storefronts, owners, etc.) can damage the brand image.
For this reason, the chief marketing officer and chief communications officer will work together in reputation management. While the CCO handles most reputation-related tasks, the CMO will manage the brand and how this affects the company’s reputation.
How Do You Become a CMO?
The path to many corporate executive positions can be varied. For example, the way to the chief operating officer can be experience-based or education-based, depending on the individual and the company hiring them. However, this isn’t the case for becoming a chief marketing officer.
The path to becoming a CMO is almost always education-based. This is because marketing is a complex and intricate field that requires in-depth understanding, which is not generally possible through on-the-job experience alone.
That being said, not every educational path to chief marketing officer looks the same. In all cases, a combination of education, previous experience, and the cultivation of a relevant skill set is crucial to reaching the CMO position in any company.
How Many Years Does It Take To Become a Chief Marketing Officer?
It can be challenging to determine an exact timeframe to become a chief marketing officer. However, aspiring CMOs should expect at least a 10-year journey to the top of the corporate ladder. However, it isn’t rare for it to take twice as long as that.
One way to help decrease the potential timeframe is to work in a marketing position while achieving a degree in that field. This can help accumulate on-the-job experience early on in a person’s career.
The journey to chief marketing officer often begins at the bottom of the corporate ladder. They may hold a general marketing position while obtaining a degree in this field or business. Then, once they’ve received their degree, they may move up the ladder as relevant positions open up.
For example, a person hoping to become a CMO may start their journey as a marketing assistant. Then, they may move up to a marketing specialist and then a marketing manager. The final steps before becoming CMO may include being the marketing director and then the vice president of marketing.
If being the chief marketing officer is the end goal, it’s crucial to consistently build upon that position’s skills and requirements. Besides education requirements, previous marketing and managerial experience are generally required.
At a minimum, a CMO must have a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business. However, many companies prefer their executives to have higher degrees. An MBA is one of the most common degrees held by executive-level professionals.
Why Is an MBA the Best Choice?
An MBA is a Master’s in Business Administration. This internationally recognized 10-year degree can be in several specialties, but receiving one in business or marketing is preferred for an aspiring CMO.
An MBA teaches the technical and soft skills necessary to thrive in a high-level business position. It also provides the opportunity for networking, which shouldn’t be underestimated. Often, the ability to obtain a C-Suite position comes down to who you know. Additionally, an MBA allows a potential CMO to command a higher salary.
Previous Marketing Experience
Most companies prefer their chief marketing officers to possess at least 10 years of previous marketing experience. This experience can generally be from any level unless a company states otherwise.
Preferably, previous marketing experience would have been in a large company or corporation. However, any freelance marketing experience or work done for schooling may qualify.
Managerial Experience Is a Must
Since the CMO is responsible for a team of marketers, companies expect candidates to have a minimum of five years of managerial experience. To be considered relevant, this experience should be with managing groups of at least five people. Experience should also be within the marketing niche specifically.
Industry-Specific Experience Is Preferred
Most companies prefer experience is in their industry or a closely-related one. Every industry needs marketing experts. It helps aspiring CMOs to discover what industry they’re most passionate about early on in their careers and focus on that.
For example, a CMO could discover they enjoy working in the health sector and focus their marketing careers on this. Or, they may decide aerospace or the automotive industry are their passions.
Other Relevant Skills and Requirements
It’s always helpful for aspiring CMOs to receive any relevant professional certifications when given the opportunity. For example, certifications in public speaking, management, customer service or marketing are all excellent ideas.
A proven track record of marketing success is necessary for this position. Therefore, aspiring CMOs should include details and evidence, such as screenshots, reviews, or links to their previous achievements. Additionally, cultivating a varied, advanced marketing skillset, including the use of current marketing tools, is critical.
How Much Does a Chief Marketing Officer Make?
Since the chief marketing officer is a C-Suite position, they typically make the six-figure salary associated with these high-level positions. However, pinpointing an exact annual wage can be difficult. Many factors must be considered, so no two CMOs will make the same amount of money.
For example, the chief marketing officer at a large corporation in a well-populated city is likely to make more than one working at a smaller company in a more rural area.
Average Salary for a CMO
The average salary for a chief marketing officer depends on the source you use. For example, Glassdoor reports that the average salary of a CMO in America is $176,984 annually, while Built-In reports it to be $222,977. According to PayScale, the average annual wage of a CMO is $175,566. However, Salary.com reports an average CMO salary of $250,740.
While each of these websites reports different salaries for the same position, we can use this accumulative information to gather some facts.
- A chief marketing officer may earn anywhere from $175,566 to $250,740 annually
- The accumulative average across sites is an annual salary of $206,566
- Regardless of the source, a CMO commands a six-figure salary
Other Payment Types
The same sources used to figure out the average salary of a chief marketing officer mention that it’s not uncommon for them to receive other forms of nontraditional payments. For example, some CMOs are also paid using:
- Profit-sharing models
- Additional cash compensations
Most C-Suite positions also come with excellent benefits packages. However, this may vary based on the size of the company. A few examples of benefits a chief marketing officer might expect to receive include:
- Medical insurance
- Dental and vision insurance
- Paid time off
- Paid (and unpaid) sick days
- 401(k) with company matching
- Pet insurance
How to Command a Higher Salary
The more experience in marketing a CMO has, the higher the salary they can command. For example, a professional hired with ten years of experience will generally make less than one hired with twenty years of experience. Additionally, obtaining an MBA over a bachelor’s degree will also help increase potential salary requirements.
An aspiring CMO may want to move to a more urban area in some circumstances. Doing so could help significantly increase salary offers and benefits packages. However, it’s essential to compare the cost of living versus salary if making this decision. Living in an urban area, such as New York City, will cost more than living in rural Pennsylvania.
Necessary Skillset for a Chief Marketing Officer
A chief marketing officer may need different skills for different sectors. However, a great CMO will possess a few general strengths, skills, values, and personality traits.
A chief marketing officer is responsible for managing their department and communicating the company’s message to the target audience. For this reason, excellent communication skills are one of the most important skills a CMO can possess.
Both verbal and written communication is vital for a CMO. In addition, a knack for compelling storytelling would also benefit someone in this position. To hone communication skills, aspiring CMOs should consider relevant courses and certifications.
For example, courses in public speaking, customer service, and business writing would complement the CMO position. Other excellent ideas include studies on body language, mass communication, technical communication, and professional etiquette.
Attention to Detail
The most minor details can be important when it comes to marketing. For example, improper image placement or typos could make a company the laughingstock of the internet. Eyeing potential messages, whether visual, written, or verbal, with a discerning eye can help negate these risks.
Additionally, a CMO will need to view data and analytics related to marketing and make crucial decisions using it. To do so, an excellent chief marketing officer must see how each tiny detail adds up to the bigger picture. In this way, the CMO can make the best decisions for their company.
Emotional intelligence is crucial for anyone holding a management position. The chief marketing officer will need to manage their marketing teams. Emotional intelligence can make the CMO a greater leader. It can help them understand what those working beneath them are feeling and thinking.
Emotional intelligence can also be applied to increase productivity. For example, a manager with high emotional intelligence will be someone people want to work for. In turn, employees are more likely to effectively communicate their strengths, weaknesses, wants, and desires. The CMO can take this information and use it to ensure each team member is being used to their fullest potential.
It’s impossible to thrive as a chief marketing officer without having a moderate to a high level of technical competency. At a minimum, they should understand how to use various marketing tools, know their way around the internet and understand any physical devices, machines, or systems necessary to their jobs.
A chief marketing officer’s knowledge of the internet should include social media. It’s important for marketers to understand the nuances and capabilities of each social platform they use.
Humility is crucial to the chief marketing officer. Every CMO will face impossible challenges and unavoidable failures during their career. However, humility will allow the CMO to accept defeat and move beyond their losses. Only then can CMO further improve themselves and their companies.
Marketing has become a critical aspect of company growth plans and evolution. The chief marketing officer needs to be a visionary to keep this momentum moving forward. Not only should they be able to carry out their CEO’s vision accurately, but also help develop one of their own.
A visionary CMO will find that their tenure dramatically increases beyond the average 2.5 years mark. They’ll also be in the perfect position for increased decision-making responsibilities within their company.
A Love of Learning
The world of marketing is constantly evolving, and the CMO needs to stay up-to-date if they want to thrive in their position. This requires continuously researching trends, learning new techniques and adopting new technologies.
A love of learning facilitates this need and makes it enjoyable. The best chief marketing officers will get excited about new trends and love working in a fast-paced environment that allows them to flex their thinking muscles consistently.
The best chief marketing officers will recognize marketplace trends and patterns before they play out. This strategic thinking is crucial if a CMO wants to stay ahead of the competition.
Accurate predictions on future consumer trends can be especially beneficial in sectors with intense competition. These abilities are best honed through experience, trial and error, and intense data analysis.
Every CMO needs excellent mathematics skills and the ability to find, view, and make decisions on data and analytics. Although technology has made this easier, no marketing tool can replace manual analysis and comprehension.
Analytical thinking will support the chief marketing officer in decision-making. Using historical data and future trend analyses, the CMO will make the most accurate predictions about consumer needs, behaviors and wants.
Although marketing is seemingly driven by logic and data, creativity is equally important. Having a strong imagination will help aspiring CMO in their future role by allowing them to think outside the box.
However, the key is learning how to apply this creativity to solving complex problems. This means more than having a big imagination and creating good ideas. The best chief marketing officers will know how to apply these ideas in real-life ways.
Leadership skills are crucial to all C-suite positions, but they’re particularly important for the chief marketing officer. The CMO will be directly responsible for teams averaging five to 10 people. Often, the CMO will need to indirectly lead significantly larger teams. In larger companies, each high-level executive directly reporting to the CMO will be leading groups of their own.
The best managers lead by example. They conduct themselves professionally and use empathy in all dealings with employees. Most importantly, the best CMO will respect each employee and value the contributions they make.
The best CMO will be a great leader and a solid team member themselves. These teamwork skills should be diverse and allow the chief marketing officer to operate with those both lower and higher on the corporate ladder.
On the one hand, the CMO will need to work with their marketing teams. Although these employees rank lower within the company, the CMO should look at them as equals when working together.
On the other hand, the CMO will need to work with the CEO and COO. In these events, the CMO should be able to make their voice heard without overstepping the boundaries of their position.
Challenges Faced by Modern Chief Marketing Officers
The chief marketing officer is responsible for facilitating growth, sales and marketing strategy. This position is powerful within any company, and it can present many challenges. Specifically, the modern CMO is presented with challenges that those in their position wouldn’t have dealt with. Since there are often no preset guidelines on dealing with these changes, the modern CMO must pave the way forward on their own.
Being the chief marketing officer is a high-stress, high-demand job. Few are up to the task, and even fewer can hold up in the long run. The average tenure for a CMO is about 28 months or roughly 2.5 years.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, the stress and demands of the job can take a toll on a person. This can be especially true in times of turmoil, such as the pandemic or an economic depression. On top of their other tasks, CMOs will have to deal with staffing shortages, budget cuts, and a reduced target audience. This can quickly become overwhelming.
The second reason is that companies can be tough on the CMO. If marketing efforts aren’t succeeding or stop doing so, the chief marketing officer has to explain this to the CEO, the COO, and sometimes, the board of directors. Not being in marketing themselves, these other high-level employees don’t always understand the ebbs and flow that marketing can produce. Thus, the CMO can find themselves fired or suspended if they can’t effectively communicate the situation.
The Future vs. Today Dilemma
Although it presents different problems, the future versus today dilemma is nothing new to marketing. If marketers focus on today’s results and do the same thing that’s always worked, they’ll fall behind their competition. On the other hand, if they focus too much on future innovations, today’s results could slack.
Plus, investing in future innovations is always a gamble. If a CMO decides to invest resources into a brand new idea or technology that ends up failing, they could lose credibility. However, if they pass up a brand new idea or technology that works well, they could still lose credibility.
The worst part of this back-and-forth is that it plays out in public. So, every small failure can seem magnified tenfold for the CMO.
Building the Right Modern Marketing Team
Gone are the days when marketing teams were filled with only those with marketing degrees. Instead, today’s teams need a hybrid of skills and expertise to succeed. For example, those who specialize in data or English majors with a knack for storytelling are both crucial on today’s marketing teams.
The challenge for the chief marketing officer is deciding how to balance all these necessary skills to create a solid, effective team. Of course, marketing specialists are still relevant, but choosing which alternative professionals are required can be difficult. Even more, the perfect solution can look different from one company to the next, depending on numerous factors.
Finding and Adapting the Right Technology
Today, there are countless technology options for chief marketing officers. The challenge is discovering which ones are best for the company. This challenge is always followed by figuring out how to use the new technology.
At a minimum, the chief marketing officer should be using some form of marketing automation. This software can help track, attract and retain customers. Customer success software tools and analytics software are also helpful.
Before anything else, the chief marketing officer needs to be both familiar with the software used and comfortable with it. Then, they’ll need to ensure every marketing team member can use the technology without issue.
However, with new technology coming out all the time, finding the right solutions only becomes more difficult. As a result, some CMOs find themselves adopting new technology repeatedly, which makes work difficult for employees.
When the marketing team is consistently trying to learn new technology and processes, they can’t do their job. But, if outdated technology is being used, the work won’t be getting done anyway. One of the biggest challenges a CMO will face is learning to balance these two issues, so employees aren’t constantly relearning software, but their company remains up-to-date at the same time.
The Relationship Between the CMO and the CEO
The relationship between the chief marketing officer and the chief executive officer will always be very strategic. To be most effective, the CEO and CMO will need to work together to foster the implementation of strategic marketing initiatives at an organizational level.
Put simply, these two executives are most responsible for forward-facing issues within the company. When they work together, they ensure all marketing and branding plans are carried out effectively. Additionally, a strong working relationship between the CMO and CEO can make all the difference in whether a company succeeds or fails.
A Collaborative Relationship
The partnership between CEO and CMO needs to be an efficient, productive and collaborative one. The CMO needs a thorough understanding of the company’s vision, financial goals, shareholder expectations and strategic direction. In turn, the CEO needs to guide the CMO in these aspects to align marketing toward the company’s vision and objectives.
Mutual Trust and Respect
There has to be a strong sense of mutual trust and respect between the chief marketing officer and the CEO. The CMO must trust that the CEO will guide them in the right direction and provide the correct information for them to do their job. The CEO must trust the CMO to make their company more customer-centric and create measurable results with their efforts.
Both the CEO and CMO should empower each other in decision-making. However, empowerment can only happen once trust and respect have been cultivated.
If the chief executive officer is empowered, they can align company goals and shareholder expectations with customer needs. If the CMO is empowered, they’ll have a clear vision of how their marketing strategies impact company growth and its ability to meet shareholder expectations. These expectations are centered around revenues, profits and share value for the chief marketing officer.
Effective Teamwork Skills
The CEO and CMO rely on their teams to get their jobs done. Beyond this, the two must work together and with the rest of the C-Suite executives to ensure the company runs smoothly and profits continue increasing. The best relationship between CEO and CMO will be one where both parties possess effective teamwork skills and can accomplish tasks independently when necessary.
Who Reports to the CMO?
How many people and what positions report to the chief marketing officer will vary from one company to another. The CMO is usually responsible for a team of five to 10 upper-level marketing specialists, but this is a generalization and not a set situation.
Upper-Level Marketing Specialists
In most companies, the chief marketing officer will be directly responsible for a team of five to 10 upper-level marketing specialists. However, CMOS working in smaller companies may have smaller teams, while the opposite is true for those working in large corporations.
These upper-level marketing specialists may hold the following titles:
- Senior vice president of marketing
- Vice president of marketing
- Director of marketing (or director of specific marketing sectors)
Additionally, managers of specific marketing aspects may report directly to the CMO. For example, the manager of paid advertising and the content marketing manager may report to the CMO. In other scenarios, these middle-level managers would report to their directors, who would then report to the chief marketing officer.
One CMO to Another
Some companies have two (or more), chief marketing officers, because of how many responsibilities the position holds. This is especially true for large, international corporations.
The way two or more CMOs split responsibilities can vary. Sometimes, the CMOS will split the workload based on a system they design themselves. Other times, each CMO will be hired to handle specific tasks or sectors. For example, one chief marketing officer may be wholly responsible for domestic marketing. At the same time, another will be responsible for international marketing.
When two chief marketing officers exist within a corporation, they’ll need to report to one another to create a cohesive picture of how the company is doing. Even when the two CMOs work together regularly, they’ll need to create detailed reports for the other on a schedule that works best for their company. For example, detailed presentations could be made weekly, biweekly or monthly, depending on the company’s needs and how closely the two CMOs work together.
The CMO Will Collaborate With These Positions
The chief marketing officer may be responsible for their company’s marketing department, but they’ll need to collaborate with other high-level staff to accomplish this.
The CMO will sometimes need to work with the chief operating officer. The CMO will report to the COO in some companies, instead of the CEO. In other circumstances, the COO and CMO will work together to ensure operations and marketing align with the company’s vision and goals.
The CMO will also collaborate with the chief communications officer. Although the CCO is primarily responsible for reputation management and other forward-facing tasks, the CMO will assist by ensuring brand management aligns with the company’s image. The CMO will also handle public relations in two-way communication marketing channels.
The CMO will sometimes need to present their findings or evaluations to the board of directors. During these presentations, the board may offer valuable advice the chief marketing officer can use moving forward.
Defining Success as the CMO
It can be challenging to define CMO success because of this role’s flexibility and constant evolution. While success may look different from one company to another, there are a few things a chief marketing officer should do. Focusing on these broad benchmarks can help anyone in the CMO position determine their efficiency.
Engagement refers to how often and to what extent the public interacts with a company. For example, engagement may refer to likes, comments, and shares on social media platforms. It can also refer to click-through rates on promoted campaigns.
Increased engagement across the board can show the effectiveness of a chief marketing officer’s efforts. More engagement means more opportunities to build customer loyalty. Increasing customer loyalty can lead to more sales, which is better for the company’s bottom line.
Improved Public Sentiment
The sentiment is the general feeling and tone of conversations around a brand, and it can be a challenging metric to track. However, despite its challenges, improving public sentiment is crucial to a chief marketing officer’s success (or failure).
Some tools can help a CMO track public sentiment. These tools track conversations about a company online and use natural language processing algorithms to determine how positive or negative the overall opinion is.
However, the information from these tools alone isn’t sufficient. The CMO should manually scan online conversations at regular intervals and pair the information gathered with what the tools say. This will give a better idea of public sentiment towards the company and allow the CMO to see where they should make changes to improve it.
Increased sales and profits are one of the easiest ways to track the success of the chief marketing officer. The CMO is responsible for maximizing the public’s exposure to their company and sending messages that ultimately lead to sales. If these numbers continue rising (even if slowly), the CMO can assume their efforts are successful.
Happy Marketing Team
The CMO should create a happy, productive work environment for their marketing teams to be most effective. If those working beneath the CMO aren’t relatively happy with their jobs, this is often a direct reflection of the executive’s managerial skills. On the other hand, the exact opposite can be said if the marketing team is happy.
One of the best things a chief marketing officer can do is balance the needs of the company and the expectations of the target audience with the happiness of their employees. Employee satisfaction surveys and quarterly meetings can help with this success metric.
Happy Executives and Board of Directors
If the other executives (especially the CEO) and board of directors are happy, the CMO can generally assume their efforts are successful. If an executive or the board isn’t satisfied, the chief marketing officer can open a conversation with them about how they might improve. Keeping a free-flowing conversation open between the rest of the C-Suite and the board of directors can significantly increase the tenure of the CMO.
Transforming the CMO Role for What Comes Next
The health and economic crises of the modern world have created an even more complex world for the role of chief marketing officer. Not only must they adapt to meet the quickly changing needs of their target audience, but the CMO also faces an audience without the same previous funds.
With less financial stability within most audiences, less money is spent on things deemed unnecessary. CMOs in crucial sectors, such as health, may not have such a hard time, but most will.
However, this complicated time also presents an opportunity for current or aspiring chief marketing officers. Now is a pivotal turning point in how this role is defined and how marketing operates.
CMOs Are the Key to Company Survivability
The chief marketing officer has always held a position prone to rapid change, quick decisions, and unexpected challenges. Other C-suite executives rely on consistency and steady, reliable progress within their roles. This has never been the case for the CMO. This places the CMO in the perfect spot to help companies survive challenging, evolving economic situations, such as the one they’re facing now with the pandemic.
Marketing and business growth go hand-in-hand. While often overlooked, all the efforts of a CMO are to grow their company and push it into the future, closing in on long-term company goals.
When companies begin to struggle, the chief executive officer should rely on the CMO to get things back on track. However, this only works if the CEO trusts the CMO’s decision-making abilities and industry expertise.
Unfortunately, many CEOs (and directors) tend to blame the CMO instead of relying on them. When this happens, the CMO can find themselves fired for events outside their control or feeling unappreciated in their position.
The CMO can negate the risks of this happening by building a solid working relationship with their CEO and taking the time to explain low points as thoroughly as high points. It’s also crucial to prepare detailed plans and ideas for getting things back on track before it becomes a problem.
The Future Is Increasingly Digital
The convenience of going digital had slowly been gaining traction for both companies and their customers for years. Most companies have slowly added to their digital offerings and increased digital marketing spending. The pandemic didn’t change this, but it did rapidly accelerate it. Trends that may have otherwise taken years to gain traction have become a demand over months instead.
To meet this unexpected demand, a CMO and their marketing team need to place significantly more focus on digital advertisements, solutions, and technologies. If resources aren’t already placed in these areas, now is the time to do so if the CMO wants their company to survive.
A few marketing ideas to help adapt to these changes include:
- Focusing more on digital marketing methods
- Ramping up content marketing
- Creating Google My Business (GMB) posts for greater online visibility
- Investing more time on social media channels to meet customers where they spend the most time
- Promoting new online or convenient options
- Building marketing campaigns that empower potential customers
Taking more marketing efforts online isn’t the only way for the CMO to help meet current demands. They should also be focusing on adapting the processes and technologies customers are most looking for. These might include:
- Starting (or expanding) online shopping opportunities
- Contactless payment options for physical pickups
- Curbside delivery
- In-store pickups
- Free shipping for orders (with or without order minimums)
- Increased payment options, including PayPal, Cash App and similar options
- Digital customer service options
CMOs Need a Commitment to Equality
It isn’t only the business world that was significantly affected by the health and economic crisis. As a whole, the world became less willing to accept things they didn’t like or support. The nationwide protests over politics and civil rights issues are proof of this.
The modern world is much more aware of issues and ready to fight for their beliefs. Specifically, employees aren’t willing to deal with it when they believe their companies aren’t inclusive or understanding. Likewise, potential customers aren’t willing to support companies that don’t align with their values.
What Does This Mean for the Chief Marketing Officer?
The chief marketing officer needs a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion more than ever. They need to incorporate these core values into their marketing and growth efforts. For example, the CMO should hire a team of diverse, qualified individuals without a bias towards gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. In addition, marketing imagery should be inclusive of everyone and offer an equal representation of minorities.
Any CMO who fails to create an environment of inclusion and safety will see their efforts fail. On the other hand, those who successfully accomplish the tasks at hand will see their efforts thrive.
Increasing Internal Influence Is Critical
One of the most critical changes companies can make moving into the future is to allow their chief marketing officers more internal influence. Historically, the CMO has faced the challenges of high expectations and low internal influence, which has generally proven disastrous.
The CEO should begin including their CMO in all board meetings to facilitate this increased influence. They should allow increased decision-making where appropriate and support more collaboration between the CMO and other relevant executives. Most importantly, CEOs should place more faith in the chief marketing officer’s abilities and expertise.