The CMO Role Isn't Dead, Just Evolving

The WFA is out with a new study, done in partnership with research firm C2V on the evolving role of the CMO. Or, in the view of 20% of those surveyed, the devolving role.

They believe the post won’t exist in 10 years.

There has been a decline in the number of big companies that have a C-level marketing chief.  The study cited Spencer Stuart data reporting a decline in the percentage of Fortune 500 companies with a CMO in 2019, 70% versus the 74% that had one 10 years earlier.

That said, most people believe CMOs will be around for a long time to come. And, per the survey, most see their jobs getting bigger, not smaller. Half or more of those responding believe responsibilities in about a dozen areas, including sustainability, data ethics and analytics, brand purpose and innovation, will be more important to their roles five years from now.

That’s on top of given duties, like marketing strategy and business growth.

The study concludes “the role of the CMO is not dying, but in transition. The marketing function has grown beyond its traditional role. Some even suggest the CMOs role has grown beyond the capacity of one individual.”



But as the study notes “the art of marketing is becoming more of a science,” as businesses generally focus more on data and customer-centricity. And marketers need to adapt.

The survey found 85% agree that a high level of data analytics and insight generation are important for someone working in marketing today, while 87% agree a high level understanding of digital marketing tech and new platforms is also important.

But CMOs need to have skills above and beyond their specialty.

The study quotes Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar: “Today’s CMO, or even tomorrow’s CMO, even more, I think, has to be really a general manager who understands the business clearly, who understands how to connect the dots between the actions of marketing and the outcomes for the business very clearly.”

Rajamannar, who is also president of the company’s healthcare division, added: “So, you’re looking for general managers who have got a deep expertise in marketing, as opposed to marketing specialists, who are really not doing a good job.” Wow, that’s gotta sting if you’re a marketing specialist.

The survey also found that on top of all the general business and marketing acumen, would-be CMOs need to have more than a dozen well-honed personal skills -- among the most critical being curiosity, energy, passion and flexibility.

Geez, with all that talent, who needs a CEO?

The study has a lot more food for thought and additional insights from other industry luminaries you will surely recognize.

Go here for more on the study.


2 comments about "The CMO Role Isn't Dead, Just Evolving".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 21, 2020 at 8:12 a.m.

    Richard, it appears, then, that they still don't understand that the CMO must also be much more involved in media planning and buying ---not doing those functions personally but being much more familiar with the emerging opportunities for better targeting, more brand-relevant media buying solutions, alternative media mixes, etc. Instead, they are saying that "data" is more important as is a better understanding of digital---but not traditional---media. Why? Is it assumed that CMOs have more than a clue about how "TV" now functions or how best to use it? And what about radio, print and OOH media? Yet traditional media will continue to capture the lion's share of branding ad dollars for a long time to come. Is it being used in the most effective manner? Of course not.

  2. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, May 21, 2020 at 2:23 p.m.

    Raja Rajamannar has it right about the role of today's CMO but I think that is the way it always has been or should have been. 

    In the company's that have no CMO title anymore, I wonder if it is the role that has changed or just a fancy new title. 

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