Commentary

How To Cut CMO Turnover

According to a recent report by Spencer Stuart, the average tenure for CMOs is 44 months, making this one of the shortest tenured C-suite positions in our nation. Marketing directors, officers, and professionals are also hopping around from job to job.


Businesses are tasking marketing pros with more responsibilities than ever before. Sales and advertising are now commonly combined with marketing as well as public relations, digital, social media and everything else in that arena. With so many demands, marketing professionals are leaping to opportunities that either match more appropriately with their exact niche or are finding they're on a hamster wheel and are ready to have more peace with a new organization.

Here are a few tips to make your marketing program turnover-proof and more successful in the long run.

1. Have clear metrics. A moving target is no fun for anyone. That's why we recommend setting clear parameters for your marketing pro or team to accomplish, and sticking with them. Too many times we see a marketing goal launched within an organization only to have it completely change in a matter of weeks due to reaction to a problem or just a preference change. Set the goals, understand the metrics, and ensure you're meeting them.

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2. Listen to, and value, your CMO. We often see the CMO or related post being the last to be told about essential questions or decisions, rather than genuinely being treated like a C-Suite representative. Or worse, when a marketing official tells the executive team of strategic findings why something will or won't work, they can be overruled or ridiculed as "just the marketing person." Your marketing team knows a lot about your business and organizational growth and can truly be a catalyst in future change. Listen to your marketing officer and seriously consider her recommendations.

3. Let their creativity run. Marketers are being tasked to be more data-driven than ever before, but they're also responsible for making creative messaging to target a desired audience. Their jobs are becoming more disjointed in this respect. Let your marketing team be creative and work with data. If an idea presented is too creative for a C-Suite member's liking, understand the marketer's point of view and what led to their idea generation. It's important for marketers to have both creativity and data performance and get buy-in from other departments.

4. Outsource instead of overwhelm. It's easy to throw the kitchen sink of marketing responsibilities at one person, or the marketing group. But are all these responsibilities being handled well? Many marketing professionals leave their place of employment because of a high volume of task work and an overall feeling of being overwhelmed. Their job scope is often too broad and fragmented. The key is to figure out ways to outsource responsibilities and have your marketing person be the manager of it all getting done to perfection.

Marketers have always been in an influencer role. Now more than ever, it's  important to let their expertise shine to help organizations achieve their desired growth.
If your organization has struggled with marketing turnover or a "restless" marketing team, you may want to consider implementing these tips.

1 comment about "How To Cut CMO Turnover".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, October 30, 2018 at 2:20 p.m.

    This article seems based on the premise that CMOs have an average tenure of only 44 months because they are jumping ship to go to a different company. I wonder how many of the job changes are a funtion of involuntary departure rather than a voluntary one.

    It has been my observation that CMOs are often a scapegoat that allows the CEO to keep their position a bit longer. 

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