The role of the modern CMO

29 Aug 2017

Of all the seats at the C-suite table, the Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO, may have the least defined role. It’s easy to imagine what a Chief Operating Officer or Chief Financial Officer might do all day, but the chief officer with “marketing” in the middle has tasks that vary widely by company and industry. Here are some of the tasks on a modern CMO’s to-do list:


Drive revenue

Formerly thought of as masters of creativity and/or brand ambassadors, CMOs today are expected to drive growth strategies and revenue. When asked “What level of expectation is there for marketing to be a growth driver among senior management and the board?” 68 percent of the 200 CMOs surveyed said there were “high expectations” or that driving growth was the “primary mandate of marketing.” (The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift by CMO Council and Deloitte*) CMOs are, more than ever, expected to justify how marketing contributes to the bottom line.


Play the long game with customers

Consumers expect personalized, customized brand experiences. They expect that a company will cultivate a relationship with them first before asking for their credit card. Today’s CMO is tasked with mining vast amounts of customer data to identify who the true believers are – and crafting a corporate playbook that enables them to identify similar recruits.


Stay focused on customer problems

Marketers used to talk about their own companies; now they communicate the “why.” They engender loyalty from customers by staying focused on customers’ needs and problems versus their own unique selling propositions. What does this look like in practice? Instead of bombarding potential customers with pricey billboards featuring a company tagline, modern CMOs may launch strategic content marketing initiatives designed to draw in key targets with compelling content and free offers. Later, customers may sign up to hear more about the company and its products, redeem a coupon or tell a friend about the company.


Mind the metrics

According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey for 2016-2017, marketing budgets are in their third consecutive year of budget increases. Larger companies (>$5 billion revenue) spend 13 percent of revenue on marketing versus smaller companies ($250 million to $500 million revenue) that spend roughly 10 percent of annual revenue. Since CMOs are expected to contribute to revenue growth and justify that spending, tools and analytics that track marketing success are critical. CMOs must keep tabs on keyword rankings, social engagement statistics, digital conversion rates, bounce rates and everything in between. Knowing how well campaigns have done translates into calculating marketing ROI.

Curious who’s among the top in tackling their CMO to-do lists? Check out the most influential according to Forbes:


The Top 10 Most Influential CMOs
Rank Name Brand Name Country
1 Keith Weed Unilever United Kingdom
2 Antonio Lucio HP Inc. United States
3 Phil Schiller Apple United States
4 Linda Boff GE United States
5 Leslie Berland Twitter United States
6 Marc Mathieu Samsung Electronics America United States
7 Musa Tariq Ford Motor Company United States
8 Jonathan Mildenhall Airbnb United States
9 Raja Rajamannar Mastercard United States
10 Karen Walker Cisco United States
Source: Forbes


*Deloitte just named its first-ever CMO this year.


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Tags: Branding, Advertising