The 5 Key Traits Of A 'Growth CMO'

As a chief marketing officer, are you evolving? Your chief executive officer expects you to be on top of consumers’ continually changing attitudes and behaviors. He or she wants you to contribute to the company’s growth, keep track of the expanding technological landscape, become the voice of the market and nurture effective talent — all while growing market share, segment development or profits.

But how do you successfully accomplish this? How do you become a growth CMO?

Recently, in association with Forbes Insights and SAP, we showed how the professional priorities and personalities of CMOs play a factor in how these CMOs pursue organizational growth, and how effective they are at achieving that growth. The findings are highlighted in the paper, “The Growth CMO: Personas and Potential.”

The study revealed surprising findings about how the responsibilities, backgrounds, performance and aspirations of CMOs around the world affect their success in helping their companies grow and thrive. Although different for each individual, every CMO falls into one of six personas that capture the most common approaches to growth, according to the research. 



The study discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of these personas. It showed that most CMOs are very effective, but only a handful come close to reaching their potential. In fact, only 38 out of the 318 CMOs — or one in eight — scored sufficiently high enough to be categorized as growth CMOs.

Other key findings from the study:

1. Growth CMOs represent the voice of the market at the executive table. They bridge silos with their chief technical officer or chief information officer, and champion omnichannel experiences across the organization. 

2. Digital technology plays a key role in the job. Technology may be transforming our lives, but if you are a marketer, you know it’s been transforming your profession. Strategies are continually changing and roles have been redefined. Marketing leaders are more often driving technology purchases. 

3. CMOs are driving outcomes. Stewards of customer experience, these leading marketers are guiding the business outcomes that their companies now expect from marketing endeavors. These CMOs have a wide range of pressures and expectations to meet. He or she must be a steward of customer experience, and adopter and promoter of data insights, and an overall driver of business consequences. 

4. Growing the organization is a priority. Growth CMOs are champions of success within the organization, combining business strategy with marketing and tech savvy, raising the company to the next level. 

5. Many factors contribute to CMO success. The study showed that one of the key differentiators between high-performing CMOs and less successful ones includes the way the CMO role is defined, and his or her approach to the company’s culture, capabilities and outcomes. 

What struck me most from these results is that there has never been a better time for CMOs to become champions of growth within their organizations. These insights provide the kind of guiding principles marketing leaders can use to help their companies thrive. Being aware of these strengths and weaknesses gives CMOs a career path to growth that may lead them to try new behaviors to achieve personal and professional success.

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