Trend Watch: CMOs For Hire

The CMO’s job is shifting. Over the past 20 years, we have heard that the tenure of a CMO is shrinking. In 2022, a Spencer Stuart survey pegged it as 22 months, the lowest in a decade.

At the same time, experienced CMOs are realizing their value and often are taking part-time or fractional jobs, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. For companies, the benefit is doing away with the long search period and finding a talented freelancer at short notice.

The role seems perfect for someone in their 50s who has experience and wants to design their own schedules. Hot-shot CMOs are also often at the point in their careers where they can walk away if they want to.

The emergence of fractional CMO roles comes as the job has grown in complexity. The CMO job has always been a high-stress position, but now it commands the skills of an orchestra leader who knows how to engage consumers via social networks, ecommerce and TV ads. Since most companies have a loose definition of the CMO role, it’s not surprising that many fail to live up to the expectations of the job.

Consider also that a CMO now has to coordinate all positions of a brand. Should a brand say something or run an ad to reassure consumers after something like COVID-19 or after the George Floyd murder? Should a CMO be expected to keep tabs on the brand on a global, 24x7 basis?

It seems the CMO job has grown too far in scope to be assigned to a single person. The rise of fractional CMOs is a sign that a new way of tackling CMO responsibilities is in order.

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