I recently celebrated my fourth anniversary as Chief Marketing Officer at Publicis Sapient, a global digital consultancy. According to many surveys, this milestone means I’m borrowing time — and it’s been a while. The average CMO tenure among the 100 most advertised brands in the US is just 25.5 months—the lowest level since 2009 and well below the 80-month tenure of a CEO.
While some have questioned whether these statistics are true or complete, these numbers should serve as an impetus for CMOs to make some long-needed changes and take charge of their fast-growing roles.
The reasons why CMOs have short tenures have been explored in depth in recent years, and I won’t repeat them. In my opinion, most CMOs don’t embrace business thinking. They need to be “business leaders” first and “chief marketing officers” second.
Serve the customer, not the organization
An important step for today’s CMO is to ensure that expectations are aligned with the job description. The purpose of the marketing role is not to support but to lead. Organizations often misunderstand marketing responsibilities. The scope of the CMO position should not be limited primarily to marketing communications such as advertising, PR and social media. Instead, CMOs need to educate internal stakeholders, especially CEOs, about the role marketing can play in leading business strategy.
Redefines the CMO’s role from “marketing” to “business”, implying responsibility and ownership of driving the business rather than supporting it. CMOs build a business – they don’t just sell it. Marketers work collaboratively across the enterprise to drive growth by combining customer insights with data and market expertise to influence decision making and business strategy.
This education about the CMO role is important for managing expectations that marketing can address deep organizational challenges. Too often, CMOs are expected to rapidly improve every aspect of their business, from sales to communications, although in many cases these issues require systemic organizational and cultural changes beyond the scope of marketing. Or, as it sometimes happens, the CMO doesn’t have the authority to actually oversee the processes that might be used to determine his or her ultimate success, such as sales or solutions. When CMOs join organizations with high ambitions and goals, the company culture needs to allow their aspirations to flourish so they are not blamed for poor company performance.
Ideally, redefining roles should begin with the interview or hiring process, with future CMOs making sure their job descriptions include how to measure their impact. This underscores the importance of setting expectations from the start. It is often missing from job descriptions, resulting in a lack of clarity on how to measure CMO performance. For example, a seminal Harvard Business Review study found that only 22 percent of CMO job descriptions included such metrics. CMOs should adopt this language, ask for specific metrics during performance reviews, and start charting a new, clearer path.
Read next: Only 11% of CMOs say they have achieved their digital transformation goals
Marketing Your Marketing – With Data
Organizations often view marketing as a cost center, not a growth engine. This misunderstanding leaves the CMO with no authority to drive business decisions. For example, one study found that only 5.5 percent of the 600 executives surveyed said it was the CMO who approved investments in digital engagement technologies in their organizations. In over 25% of cases, it’s the CEO, CFO or CTO. The CMO responsible for understanding the market does not oversee technology spending decisions to attract customers, which defies logic.
CMOs can change this mindset by presenting data and insights on how they market directly to business. Successful marketing organizations build data analytics teams to ensure that they not only use data to inform marketing decisions, but also track and collect data about outcomes and outcomes. Having a solid, numbers-based understanding of how marketing spend and campaigns impact a company’s bottom line is critical. This data enables marketers to speak the language of the CEO and demonstrate pipeline, revenue and impact on the company. Making this shift is critical because a recent Boathouse study found that 58% of CEOs believe the CMO speaks their own language, not the language of the business.
Drive growth around the three “Rs”
The purpose of marketing is around what I call the three “Rs” Driving Growth:”
- Reputation: Growth for the brand.
- RELATIONSHIPS: GROW FOR CUSTOMERS.
- Revenue: Business Growth.
Ideally, CMOs have access to market data to not only market current products and services more effectively, but also to inform and inspire the development of new ones. Data can also be used to track the buyer journey, which not only helps ensure product exposure Lead generation, also helps to identify new opportunities. This can turn the CMO into a growth driver. Also, in this capability, the CMO can bring innovative thinking and set an agenda for new products and opportunities, all rooted in data and their expertise in the market.
Collecting and analyzing data also makes marketing invaluable to other parts of the business, including sales and product development. This is the difference between CMOs and other senior A way for executives to further coordinate and work more closely together, including not only CEOs and CFOs, but also CTOs, CISOs, and Chief Purpose Officers—all three roles that have influence across the business. In growth.
These steps will go a long way toward increasing trust in the CMO, which is sorely needed. 70% of CEOs in the Boathouse study said their CMO cares most about themselves, and Will do whatever it takes to protect himself and not the CEO. In addition to gaining more trust, by adopting a business mindset and embracing data, CMOs can be at the forefront of organizational development and digital transformation.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the guest authors and not necessarily those of MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
About the author
Theresa Barreira is Chief Marketing Officer at Publicis Sapient. She was named one of the 25 Women Leaders in IT Services in 2020 by the IT Services Report and received the 2019 Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year. A proud Hispanic and Portuguese, she is focused on advancing DE&I at all levels of leadership and the workplace. She has lived and worked in the US, Canada and Europe and has spent most of her career leading teams and companies through transformation, launching new brands or lines of business, and fostering a culture of experimentation and learning. She is the former Chief Marketing Officer of Deloitte Consulting LLP and has held leadership positions at IBM and Accenture.