Tough Questions for CMOs

MarketingProfs asks, Are you ready for 2013? BusinessWeek asks, Will you have your job in 2013?

The two links above are strongly related. According to the MarketingProfs post by Paul Barsch, two factors loom large over the next five years for chief marketers: 1) the accelerating growth of information technology, and 2) the proliferation of data (it doubles every three years). Unless CMOs learn to partner with the IT department, and harness all that data into usable insight and cost-effective, revenue-producing marketing campaigns, their tenure will be short lived. That is the subject of the BusinessWeek article. It reports the average longevity of the CMO position is now only 26 months. Lofty management expectations for quick results from the CMO position are partially to blame. Another major factor is the learning curve challenges faced by CMOs when it comes to understanding and utilizing the new media choices. As the BusinessWeek article states:

“It’s not hard to see why companies are grappling with this. As recently as five years ago, the CMO’s role was much simpler. Chief marketers devised a brand message, hired an advertising agency to create clever ads, managed promotions, and then waited for their bonus or pink slip. “You would run a major ad campaign and trust it,” says Jim Speros, a veteran marketing executive who is currently CMO at Marsh & McClennan (MMC). But that won’t fly in a world where blogs, social networks, and cell phones are fast changing not just where ads go but how people shop.”

Part of the challenge is that CMOs are getting directions from everywhere. They are often tasked with changing the marketing landscape for their companies when they only semi-control a small part of marketing: (traditional) advertising. Seth Godin said the same thing a few years back:

“The myth of the CMO is the C part. They don’t get to be the chief of the stuff that is really what marketing is all about today. CAO, maybe (Chief Advertising Officer) but not CMO.”

Most big organizations need CMOs because someone has to corral all this data, information technology, old media, new media and focus it into broad-based marketing programs that build the brand and efficiently grow revenues. The challenge is finding CMOs that are up to the challenge in a fast-changing marketing world.

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It’s time for CMOs across the world to take their rightful position as customer owner/advocate. The next five years will be make or break for the CMO position, either leading to increasing relevance or relegation to irrelevance.

Paul Barsch Posted on: Feb 19, 2008 at 07:23 PM

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