Chief Endangered Marketing Officer

team member

Maarten Albarda

I have written in the past that the CMO of today is really the Chief Advertising Officer, because many of the traditional CMO duties have been taken over by Chief Technology Officers, Chief Growth Officers, Chief Innovation Officers, Chief Revenue Officers and other members in the C-suite. I noted that of the four traditional P’s, only the poorly named P for “Promotion” was still part of the CMO’s responsibilities.

Some CMO’s are actually only Chief Paid Media Advertising Officers, i.e. they have no responsibility for advertising in important touch points such as the company’s websites, social media, customer service, packaging, in-store/point of sale, etc..

I posited that, as a result, the CEO of today is truly the CMO as the CEO alone has end responsibility for all four P’s (to refresh your memories, or teach you a relic from old school marketing, the four P’s stand for Price, Place, Product and Promotion).

This assumption has now been confirmed by research presented in the Harvard Business Review called “Why CMOs Never Last” by Kimberly Whitler and Neil Morgan. In it they describe the exact scenario outlined above, noting that most CMO’s last about 4 years, and many do not even make that number. This is in stark contrast to CEO’s who typically record double that number of years or more.

And Debbie Qaqish, author of “The Revenue Marketer” and partner at The Pedowitz Group, noted in her research that up to five C-suite members now share growth and revenue responsibility, but the CMO is almost 100% responsible for missed targets. In other words, the CMO is in the crosshairs for a shared responsibility.

Whitler and Morgan offer four remedies that might offer an improved survival rate for CMO’s:

Step 1: Define the Role

Step 2: Match Responsibilities to the Job’s Scope

Step 3: Align Metrics with Expectations

Step 4: Find Candidates with the Right Fit

None of this sounds like rocket science, and not surprisingly they all focus on steps that need to be taken inside the company prior to hiring.

In our practice we see the challenge of the misaligned CMO in the broader context of how a company runs marketing all the time. Very often we find that a misaligned definition of roles and responsibilities, metrics and expectations and having the right people in the right roles a challenge that permeates the whole marketing department. One of the key issues is that the organizational structure and the operational process are often based on how the world was a decade or two decades ago.

Yes, companies have added new functions to manage new areas such as social, e-commerce, CRM, etc. but these are typically “bolted on” rather than integrated as part of a new model and approach. Most marketers agree that, given a blank piece of paper, they would design a very different structure and process than the one they are managing in reality. But change is hard, and the daily grind of the existing model eats up all the time available, plus what matters most is results: every month, every quarter, every 12 months.

Of all the recommendations listed above, we have noticed that clearly aligned and shared targets and metrics are the number one area to address towards clarity and continuity. Then align the organization and process to these goals. None of this is easy, but it is critically important.

At Flock we have worked with CMO’s and C-suites and helped define roles, responsibilities, role-sorts and even whole org charts for marketing departments. Plus, we now offer executive recruiting and career planning through our partners Grace Blue. If you are interested, please feel free to connect below.

[Maarten is a featured contributor to MediaPost, this article was originally published here]

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