Out of all the alphabet soup in the world of marketing, a CMO has to be the most baffling. We have ambitious students, though, that one day may rise to the top of the industry and this is a role that you could be aiming for. The Chief Marketing Officer is a hugely significant role, responsible for executing the overall marketing strategy, often for a large organisation.
The CMO has a strategic role embedded across the whole business. They are responsible for the marketing across the organisation and must lead a big-picture communications strategy. However, it is essential that they not get caught up in the operational aspects of the marketing of individual products and services. They must be able to do more than just create campaigns, but unite them through a coherent overall communications strategy.
Moreover, a CMO has an enviable C-suite position in a company. This means that they have access and accountability to influential decision makers such as the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer. This requires executive skills such as leadership, communication, integrity and relationship-building to a very high standard.
A CMO who has honed their marketing craft with press releases, tradeshows, social media or websites will soon find themselves thrust into a new world of business strategy, acquisitions and mergers and human resources. This does not mean that they should forget their industry, but embed it in the senior management of an organisation.
There has been a lot of controversy about the role of a CMO and some commentators have questioned whether it should even exist. Neil St. Clair wrote for Forbes that it is ‘the most dangerous title around’, arguing that it is a glorified position with no real business value. He argues that the role should be integrated with business development to ensure that it adds to the bottom line.
However, companies are still seeing the value of a CMO. They should be able to lead and inspire the people around them and across the business. It is essential, therefore, that they should not lose touch with their teams, despite the lofty heights of their executive position. Likewise, they must keep in touch with the customer on the ground so that when attitudes and behaviours change, the leader can drive forward an agile organisational response.