Chief Marketing Officers Need To Be Strategic Players

May 11, 2007
Top marketers don't provide adequate evidence of ROI.

A new study warns that senior management must redefine the role of the chief marketing officer so that it is better aligned with business strategies. The study, "Define & Align the CMO", conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and sponsored by MarketBridge, found that title inflation, unrealistic expectations, flawed hiring practices, talent deficiencies and lack of requisite business and strategic leadership skills are big contributors to the limited shelf life of CMOs. The Council's research also points to the fact that 50% of executive searches are to replace incumbent CMOs who are primarily hired to fix broken marketing organizations, not drive business value.

"Conventional wisdom holds that the CMO is a strategic player in the C-suite, but this study shows a significant gap between perception and reality," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "That's why the CMO Council strongly advocates a significant change in the way this position is defined and structured. That change needs to be driven by the CEO, who must decide whether the company needs a marketing chief in the C-suite, and then lay the groundwork for establishing the position."

The study found that:

  • Nearly three-quarters of the C-suite executives surveyed consider the marketing organization "highly influential and strategic in the enterprise." At the same time, nearly two-thirds also say their top marketers don't provide adequate evidence of ROI with which to gauge marketing's true performance.
  • Almost 70% of the CMO respondents to this study report directly to their CEO. However, only 40% of that number get an A grade for their performance from the CEO.
  • For the most part, CMOs get more respect from the boardroom than from the CEO. Most of the board members surveyed, over 80%, believe that within the next two years, the CMO position will gain greater credibility with the rest of the management team. But in another reality check, less than 20% also say that an increasing number of CMOs will rise to the CEO position.

"If CMOs do face an identity crisis, it's not for lack of marketing competence or creativity -- the CMO leadership capabilities and talent levels in the surveyed companies are higher than ever," said Tim Furey, CEO of MarketBridge. "Rather, the identity crisis stems from a perceived lack of measurable results. The most successful CMOs are aggressively instituting rigorous performance measurement and analytics in every aspect of their organizations, and tying those metrics to revenue and profit growth."

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