CMOs Must Be Organizational 'Bonding Agents'


Today, about half of chief marketing executives are hired to fix "broken" marketing organizations. Little wonder that CMO churn rates are high.

So what, exactly, does it take to succeed? A new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council points to three core elements that need to be in place: a strong mandate and unwavering support from the CEO; close, productive relationships with peers in the C suite; and early evidence that marketing is indeed performing expanded roles and enhancing business value (cultivating customers and driving sales and new revenue streams).

The report, "Renovate to Innovate: Building Performance-Driven Marketing Organizations," also outlines 10 steps to succeeding for executives taking over the chief marketing leadership role.

It is based on best-practices interviews with more than 20 CMOs who have been recently hired or have relatively short tenures; a decade-long assessment of CMO effectiveness on the job; and an in-depth historical review by senior management recruiting/appraisal firm Egon Zehnder International (also the report's sponsor).



The backdrop is well-known to marketing executives. To respond to fundamental changes in the marketplace, marketing organizations must now go beyond being brand agents/communicators, to "fill the pipeline with predisposed prospects, further customer insight and interaction through social media channels, and be accountable for demand generation and market differentiation with integrated, multi-channel campaigns," sums up the report. This requires new competencies and knowledge in data integration and insight gathering, predictive analytics, behavior-driven marketing, precision promotion, online and mobile engagement, lead cultivation and provisioning, financial forecasting and mix modeling.

Key conclusion: The chief marketer's most critical role is to be an agent of change, and specifically to "revitalize the marketing group's cultures and mindsets." Narrowly focused, "risk-averse managers in isolated tactical silos (research, PR, advertising, events, creative services, interactive, direct response) must be integrated into cohesive, cross-functional campaign teams" that are strategically aligned with corporate business objectives and held accountable for specific deliverables and deadlines.

"In essence, a new CMO has to become a 'super-bonding agent,' helping disparate elements in the organization come together, stick together and work together in a cohesive way," sums up CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May.

A summary of the recommended 10-step plan for new CMOs:

  • Understand the company's culture, mindset, customer and competitive conditions.
  • Establish alignments and "listening" relationships with CEO, peers and stakeholders.
  • Identify the marketing detractors, influencers, advocates and champions globally.
  • Audit and assess internal competencies, processes, capabilities and perceptions.
  • Determine leaders and laggards, inventory deficiencies and resource requirements.
  • Map marketing strategy and model organizational change around plans and deliverables.
  • Unify, enthuse, mobilize and strategically focus marketing assets and partners.
  • Initiate upgrade and replacement processes in key competency areas.
  • Show results early and often with business-building, lead-generating marketing projects.
  • Provide metrics-driven reporting and spending plans to management on a quarterly basis.

The full report can be downloaded from the CMO Council site.

1 comment about "CMOs Must Be Organizational 'Bonding Agents' ".
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  1. Pam Alvord from Kilgannon, May 18, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.

    This new definition of the new CMO also demands a fresh perspective on how agency relationships are defined and managed. This is not your father's AOR relationship

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