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Perspectives

The evolving role of the CMO

Redefining the CMO position in the C-suite

The underlying shifts to the CMO position have stemmed from the changing needs and behaviors of consumers. At one time, the function of marketing encompassed promotional methods, but two-way customer dialogue and the increasing pace of change in today's society have broadened the mission of marketing leadership.

The need for CMOs to adopt a more strategic stance isn’t a new concept, yet the tactics often keep pulling them back in. And the increasing number of tools marketers have at their fingertips only increases the desire to learn about them and deploy them. But with all these channels and tactics, there’s an increasing pressure to simultaneously engage customers while delivering on growth initiatives.

This tension may help explain why, on average, the CMO position is the shortest-tenured one in the C-suite. Organizations are giving CMOs the responsibility of meeting the growing number of expectations placed on them, without necessarily providing the authority to make the needed decisions.

In order to execute more effectively, where should CMOs start? Based on our research, the evolving role of the CMO comes down to three key areas.

CMOs today face greater expectations than their predecessors did. While the role is certainly not for the faint of heart, there’s never been a more exciting and demanding time to be in marketing. Those who are most successful in the position understand the importance of collaboration, identifying the right skills and closing the gaps wherever they exist. They also know that their most critical capability is having a profound, deep understanding of their customers and how to properly engage with them. CMOs wishing to transform their role can use this unique position to elevate themselves as the customer expert with stakeholders across the enterprise.

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