It’s interesting for me to think about today’s CMO. CMOs are under attack, in transition, being re-imagined, and more. Company tenure, knowledge, or industry experience doesn’t guarantee you a longstanding job…proving your value does. But what does this mean and who do you need to prove your worth to?
Several recently published studies show CMO turnover is higher than ever. In some industries, the trend is eye-popping – particularly in retail and high tech. Even more challenging, outsiders are in and insiders are out. While CMO turnover has been rising for years, many studies show 60% or more of companies replace their CMOs with someone from outside the company, even if it means hiring a CMO with little to no experience in the industry.
What the hell is going on?
It’s simply a matter of business need and evolution. CEOs are increasingly responding to shifting business dynamics that call for an entirely new skill set from CMOs, they say, and an equal aptitude in customer experience, data analytics, sales knowledge, and traditional brand-building skills. Indirectly, this is also a clear indicator that many CEOs don’t believe that other internal marketing leaders have the answers either.
But it’s not that easy to meet today’s business needs. “Marketing has become a series of highly specialized subdisciplines, and the days of being a generalist are almost gone,” says Richard Sanderson, co-leader of the marketing officers practice at Russell Reynolds. CMOs and marketing leaders must be more aggressive in their partnering efforts, working hand in hand with finance, sales and the executive team to showcase marketing’s unique knowledge and business value.
To succeed, CMOs will need to excel in 4 strategic areas: business alignment and results, customer engagement and satisfaction, data analytics and optimization, and sales efficiency and execution.
Foster strong alliances with key stakeholders. CMOs who thrive in 2018 will be the ones who can adopt the mindset of the CEO, head of sales (or CRO), and CFO. They will understand the goals and challenges, where marketing fits and what is being delivered, and help solve core business issues. Balancing business operations, creative, and sales-driven thinking should be top-of-mind for CMOs proving quantified business value.
Measure, analyze, and prioritize the ‘right’ data. Most CMOs have access to a lot of data, and it’s common to get lost in it. Successful CMOs in 2018 will shift focus away from low-level metrics, placing their focus on those key business performance indicators that directly measure business performance, such as revenue, CX, engagement, and readiness.
Bottom line, 2018 will be the year that CMOs need to step up to demonstrate indisputable value. CMOs who re-imagine their role around growth and business impact will leave the year stronger than ever before, with measures and results that resonate with the C-suite and the Board. To learn more, check out ‘CMO Perspective: Key Traits of Growth-Oriented CMOs‘ (Gartner subscription required.).
For the many CMOs in transition – moving to a new job, dealing with a new CEO, or going through M&A – I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the biggest challenge for you has been.