CMOs Need To Be Pro-Active In Order To Advance

Attention CMOs: If you want to advance in your career, you're going to have to take matters into your own hands.

That's the takeaway from a new report by Forrester Research and Heidrick & Struggles, who found that 34% of CMOs want to move up in their companies or to similar jobs at bigger companies. However, they're only spending 10% of their time on career development.

"We're getting to the point where their goals are starting to change," Cindy Commander, an analyst with Forrester's CMO Group, tells Marketing Daily. "It's time for them to take the reins of their development."

Among the 130 CMOs surveyed, 61% said their top objective within the company was acquiring new customers. Just over half--53%--said the top priority was new product or brand launches, and 48% said it was increasing brand awareness. Improving the value of the marketing department within the corporation was a top priority for only about one-third of the respondents.

Furthermore, the survey found that only 20% of the average CMO's time is spent developing relationships with peers. Commander says CMOs need to get to know other aspects of the company's business--such as finance and product development--if they want to be taken seriously in the boardroom. And they're going to have to actively seek out that information.



"A CMO can say they want to participate more, but if they can only talk about advertising and marketing, they're not going to be taken seriously," Commander says. "No one is going to come to the CMO's door and say: 'Come on and participate.' They have to be pro-active."

Only a quarter of the CMOs surveyed said they were involved with any customer service and support, and less than half identified being a consumer advocate within the company as a top priority for their personal success. However, this tactic may be wrong-headed, as the relationship the marketing department has with a consumer may be the CMO's most powerful tool in developing support within the company, Commander says.

"For them to take the next step, they need to leverage the fact that they have the relationship with the customer," she says.

The survey did not address tenure (the average CMO tenure is just under two years, according to a study by executive search firm Spencer Stuart done last year), but Commander acknowledges that the pressure on CMOs to produce results quickly can keep them from focusing on other aspects of the business. But it shouldn't keep them from seeking out information and support from other areas within their companies, she says.

"[Tenure] is still a challenge, and it will continue to be a challenge," she says. "One of the things they're starting to realize is, if you need to show results now, doing it by yourself isn't going to get you there."

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