CMO Role: Understanding the Chief Marketing Officer Position and Its Impact on Business

It’s harder than it looks

Of all C-level roles in a typical leadership team, the CMO is the one that more than any other, requires maintaining a strong balance between left-brain and right-brain thinking. You're expected to be the most creative person in the room, leading the brand's voice and taking the company on its pursuit of creativity, all while making stone-cold decisions solely based on metrics, analytical thinking and alignment with the company's business goals.

This is why great CMOs are hard to find. They need to build trust by inspiring the company's employees, its customers and the overall market to believe the brand is a force to be reckoned with. To spark the fire in people's eyes when they're faced with the brand's name, logo, website, ad, content or anywhere else. This can only be achieved by bringing in a mix of creativity, instincts and inspiration.

On the other hand, marketing can only be successful when it meets its goals: leads, calls, new customers - all the metrics and funnels that make up for a growing and sustainable business. You have to know how to find needles in haystacks by jumping through various data reports, dashboards, analyses and sometimes complex math formulas, in order to understand what works and what doesn't. It's both Mad Men and Math men.

Strong balance between left-brain and right-brain thinking. Made with Midjourney

Another important thing to consider is that the CMO's nature of work might change as the company grows. It's more likely that in smaller companies, the CMO is working tirelessly to make numbers work and climb up the growth ladder month over month, trying to maximize their limited budgets as far as possible. You can only do this much with a shoestring budget when it comes to building a brand that's a household name, so much of your focus will likely go to checking every dollar that comes in and out from the business.

As a company grows and matures, CMOs will tend to make time for planning and executing their brand vision and work on things that until recently were considered only playable in the big league. They will find themselves being asked tough questions around brand awareness, share-of-voice, they will look into more expensive and less digital or measurable channels, such as TV, sponsorships and others. Budgets will grow, but they will still need to justify expenses, as making hunch-based decision won't be enough.

Being a successful CMO is hard, but it's the most rewarding role when you get it right: You win the hearts of your company's employees and customers by creating a brand people love, and the respect of your leadership team by creating a marketing machine that gets the company to where it's looking to go.

If you want to become a CMO, you must hold a few key qualities. Are you cut out to be one? Let's briefly review some of them and help you find out:

1. Strategic thinking - outsiders assume that everyone in a company’s senior management team is aligned — even in general terms — on what market they are in, what they need to do to expand and control a larger share, and how their customers relate to them. 

It’s rarely the case. 

Each C-level executive is focused on their own areas, and essentially assumes that someone else is keeping an eye on these deeply fundamental issues. Even the CEO occasionally has to be course-corrected as feedback and data support an adjustment in approach. 

The CMO needs to conduct ongoing, broad market research in order to empirically support or challenge assumptions that drive the company’s engagement tactics, brand management, and even the budgets it allocates to everything from paid advertising to the more amorphous social media engagement to customer service and support. 

No investment of time and money (marketing-specific, or those of other departments) should be based on a gut feeling or a sense of “best practice.” It all must be driven by the marketing team's research and analysis; the CMO has the weighty responsibility of drawing conclusions and steering fundamental decisions at the senior management level.

The two minds of a CMO - both creative and analytical. Made with Midjourney.

2. Multitasking - continuing on the previous theme, marketing campaigns, in particular, are complex and expensive operations. They begin with the development of a basic strategy (ideally a hypothesis or theory with alternatives that will be tested and revisited actively), move on to copywriting, design, and technical implementation. Then budgets need to be applied to purchasing space (whether digital or real world), and then, of course, the team needs to generate meaningful reports and analytics to determine the success or failure of each and every campaign. 

No one person can do this alone; a skilled CMO knows how to both manage the process and to also assign the right people to get it done quickly, efficiently, and at the highest level of quality possible. There are companies in which this task alone dominates the majority of a CMO’s time, and as we will see in a minute, that's not necessarily a healthy thing.

3. Leadership - let's take a break from tactics for a moment and recognize that the CMO, as the senior marketing executive in the company, needs to build and manage an excellent team, with all of the human resource artistry that this entails. 

They need to collaborate actively with other departments. For instance, the Marketing team naturally supports Sales and has to understand that department's needs. Marketing needs to work with the Product team to understand (and drive!) current and future features, and the impact they may have on the way that the product or service is presented.  They need to interact with Customer Support to make sure messaging is consistent.

4. Communication skills - The list goes on, but the point is that much of the CMO's work is about communications and interactions rather than those tactical priorities. And let's not forget that often, as the company’s lead spokesperson and communicator, the CMO represents the company externally as well, at events like conferences, webinars, and press engagements. That’s travel, speech-writing, and responding to inquiries.

Now that we have this shortlist covered, let’s continue and dive even deeper about further complexities that make up what being a CMO is.

So… sound like fun?

For some, this overview can be terrifying and send them looking in another direction where they can reach a senior position without all of the uncertainly and question marks inherent in this job. Indeed, simply recognizing the dual nature of a CMO's responsibilities — managing the logistics and creativity of an internal team while staying closely in touch with a rapidly changing competitive challenge of the market — is daunting enough. 

But as we've seen, looking at the sheer number of tasks that one must juggle to stay active and productive can lead us to only one conclusion: a strong CMO, with managerial, logistical, and personal skills — not to mention nonstop energy and optimism — is a rare breed. There truly is no room for mediocrity or a casual approach to this role, but the satisfaction of getting it right can be the true reward in this career path.

What should a CMO focus on?

A CMO should focus on creating and implementing a marketing strategy that aligns with the company's overall business objectives. This involves understanding the target market, identifying the unique selling proposition (USP), and creating a message that resonates with the target audience. It also involves selecting the right channels to reach the target audience, measuring the impact of marketing activities, and optimizing campaigns based on data-driven insights. Brew Marketing can assist CMOs in measuring the impact of their marketing activities and identifying gaps and opportunities in the market. By tracking key metrics and distilling insights, CMOs can create a more effective marketing strategy that drives commercial success.

What is CMO strategy?

A CMO strategy is a plan that outlines how a company will achieve its marketing goals. It involves identifying the target audience, developing a message that resonates with them, selecting the right channels to reach them, and measuring the impact of marketing activities. A CMO strategy should be aligned with the company's overall business objectives and focus on creating a competitive advantage. With Brew, a CMO can provide management data-driven insights. By analyzing data from millions of sources, Brew Marketing can help CMOs identify gaps and opportunities in the market, track the impact of their marketing activities, and optimize campaigns for maximum ROI.

What are the 3 pillars of CMO?

The three pillars of CMO are: (1) market intelligence, (2) customer experience, and (3) revenue growth. Market intelligence involves understanding the target market, identifying gaps and opportunities, and monitoring the competitive landscape. Customer experience involves creating a message that resonates with the target audience and selecting the right channels to reach them. Revenue growth involves measuring the impact of marketing activities and optimizing campaigns for maximum ROI.

What are the 3 layers of dashboards?

The three layers of dashboards are: (1) operational, (2) tactical, and (3) strategic. Operational dashboards provide real-time data on day-to-day operations, such as inventory levels or website traffic.

What does a CMO do?

A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies to drive business growth. Here are some typical daily activities of a CMO:

  • Develop and execute marketing strategies.
  • Manage marketing campaigns and initiatives.
  • Analyze and interpret marketing data.
  • Collaborate with other departments to align marketing efforts with business goals.
  • Manage the marketing budget.
  • Develop and manage a team of marketing professionals.

Brew Marketing can provide a platform that gives CMOs unprecedented visibility into their company's marketing activities, allowing them to focus on driving commercial success.

What Every CMO Should Know?

To be an effective CMO, it's important to understand the following:

  • The importance of aligning marketing efforts with overall business goals.
  • The power of data and analytics to make informed decisions.
  • The need to collaborate with other departments to drive business growth.
  • The importance of a strong brand and customer experience.
  • The need to stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and technologies.

Holder of the Crystal Ball

Today more than ever, the rules of business, customer engagement, corporate storytelling, and all the other building blocks that marketers have long studied are being reimagined, replaced, and re-engineered. Global digital transformation touches every company in every sector, and the CMO is at the center of this vortex: online social media and other digital platforms have eliminated substantial tried-and-true methodologies and created both incredibly easy access to virtually any target audience. At the same time, they face the challenge of “getting above the noise” and understanding how to increase share of voice relative to one's competitor.

CMO holding a crystal ball. Made with Midjourney.

And this is a data challenge. Everything about the customer experience can be tied to the data it generates, whether it be tracking clicks, online surveys, purchasing behaviors, or dozens more. 

It makes one wonder how universities can even teach Marketing anymore, and if there is a textbook that could last more than a couple of years before needing to be replaced. While the CFO, CEO, and even the CEO have roles similar to their predecessors a decade ago, the same cannot be said of the CMO. It takes a special personality to be ready and able to handle the dynamic nature of a company's marketing machine. 

The questions echo in their heads all day: Does our current approach keep up with a changing world? So, are you up for the challenge? We hope you enjoyed this article, and if you’re planning to become a CMO one day, keep this blog post available so you can read it again one more time :)