The CMO: Black Sheep or Golden Child?

When research firm Stuart Spencer in 2006 found the average tenure of a CMO to be fewer than two years, the volatility of the position became clear. However, a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer Council reveals that the role of the CMO does not have to lead to the chopping block. While unrealistic expectations, poor hiring practices, and inadequate performance metrics critically plague the senior marketer role, the study argues that if this role is more clearly defined these problems can be eradicated. The study, "Define and Align the CMO," was conducted by the CMO Council and sponsored by MarketBridge, a sales and marketing consultancy. The report aims to develop a current definition of where the CMO fits in an enterprise and what responsibilities he should assume. Brian Regan, senior vice president of the CMO Council, explains that in the 10 short years the CMO position has existed, the role has quickly evolved and many companies are still struggling with this change. "It's no longer the superstar marketer who's got all the brand building expertise and the ability to execute on a splashy advertising campaign," Regan says. "It's someone who can come in and move above the collaborative, tactical level, and drive growth through strategic vision." Although the average tenure of CMOs surveyed in the Council's study was 38 months, longer than the widely recognized 23 months, the report found many problems with the senior marketer's role. Two-thirds of respondents reported that top marketers do not provide adequate ROI metrics with which to measure their performance, and only 40 percent of CMOs garnered an "A" grade from the CEO. Additionally, the report found that 50 percent of executive searches are performed not to grow business, but to repair suffering marketing departments. The study points to "title inflation, unrealistic expectations, flawed hiring practices, talent deficiencies, and lack of requisite business and strategic leadership skills" as the top reasons for the position's unsatisfactory status. If an organization can work through these problems, however, a CMO can be expected to climb. Two thirds of those surveyed said that the marketing organization is currently highly influential and strategic in their company, and 80 percent said that within two years time, the CMO position will gain greater credibility. The report notes that work has to be done on an enterprise level to uncover what an organization needs from its CMO to prove his or her worth through clear metrics indicating growth and customer centricity. "The organization is now starting to look at a CMO stepping up and taking a much more important role," says Scott Gillum, senior vice president of MarketBridge. "The questions are, one, can they do that? Two, do they know how to do that? And, three, are they enabled to do that?" Related articles: Marketers Still Fail to Connect with Customers
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