Home > Marketing > Habits, Capabilities and Peer Reviews of the Modern CMO [UML]

Habits, Capabilities and Peer Reviews of the Modern CMO [UML]

Habits Capabilities and Peer Reviews of the Modern CMO [UML]

“In areas where they are simply incompetent, smart executives don’t make decisions or take actions. They delegate. Everyone has such areas.”
Peter Drucker

To say the role of the modern CMO is challenging is an understatement.

The marketing landscape is changing at an increasingly faster rate, and it’s a genuine challenge to keep up. Marketing is also one of the few functions in business that everyone experiences in their daily lives, and so people are quick to assume they understand how to do it well.

Professionals know there are no experts in marketing, only students.  From that vantage point, the CMO is merely the top student and is continuously required to modify habits, develop new capabilities, and manage critiques by his or her peers in the C-Suite.

That’s the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML].  As it is on the occasional Saturday, I offer three interesting reads, wrap them in perspective and render them here for your consideration.

The first thing CMOs must do is get out of the marketing department-2

1) Intuition as a habit of the successful CMO

It’s hard to find a marketing article today that doesn’t reference “data-driven” or some other related euphemism.  Is there such a thing as intuition in marketing anymore?

It seems there is, at least according to Alyssa Waxenberg writing for IBM Watson Customer Engagement – The 7 Habits of Top-Performing CMOs:

“The majority of data is dark and unknowable,” she writes, citing IBM Watson Customer Engagement CMO Maria Winans.  So “think of data as a trusted advisor, but don’t dismiss your intuition.”

More data can sometimes lead to more questions, and that’s where intuition, based on experience, is a human heuristic that still may make sense:

“…use data-driven customer insights to strategize your next steps, don’t abandon your intuition. Let data be your guide, but combine it with your instincts…”

It’s worth noting that this piece is considered commentary from a division of a company with a product that exists to crunch data – and yet it is acknowledging that marketing is still both an art and science.


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2) New capabilities the CMO must build

“The first thing CMOs must do is get out of the marketing department,” wrote Anand Swaminathan and Brian Gregg of McKinsey.

Their piece –  3 Capabilities CMOs Must Build to Transform Marketing – was published in Chief Marketer and argues for improved cross-functional collaboration, especially with the CIO:

“By working cross-functionally, especially with the CIO, CMOs can begin to create the collaborative structures, supported by new technologies, that break down internal silos and create experiences that surpass customer expectations. An alliance with the CIO (who is also under pressure to show results) is an important step toward helping CMOs access the data, technological enablers, and analytic capabilities they need to drive growth—faster, and at-scale.”

For example:

“At one fashion company, the CMO partnered with the CIO to develop an omnichannel strategy that focused on the need to be able to move customers from online to the physical store and back again – within critical buying windows personalized to the individual shopper. That strategy resulted in double-digit growth.”

If the CMO is truly spending more on technology than the CIO in these modern times, it’s not an excuse to overlook collaboration.  Marketing still needs the technology team.

3) A CMO peer review by the C-Suite

A CMO peer review by the C-Suite-TrustAn executive search firm interviewed other leaders in the C-Suite for their view of the CMO – and they have good news and bad news.

The good news?  The C-Suite views the top marketer as a publicly facing agent of trust.  They used words like “critical” and “paramount” and “loyalty” as the chart nearby suggests.

The graphic nearby is a credit to interviews conducted by Egon Zehnder as described in Forbes: What CMOs’ Fellow C-Suite Executives Really Think of Marketing.

The three co-authors – Kristi Maynor, Amanda Roberts, and Cynthia Soledad – elaborated:

“While ‘trust’ was just one response, in our view, that quality underscores many of the concepts C-suite executives associate with the CMO and the marketing function. And trust is, in fact, the central pillar of marketing. Without it, a brand quickly becomes irrelevant – or worse, a punchline.”

That’s all great, so, what’s the bad news?  It seems when the business asks CMOs to justify the marketing spend, the CMOs oblige, and then the business doesn’t believe them:

“When we asked whether marketing data was used primarily to optimize marketing expenditures or to justify them, two-thirds of the CMOs responded the former. Others in the C-suite, however, were evenly split. As one chief strategy officer bluntly put it, ‘CMOs lose trust and credibility when trying to convince everyone their campaigns are great.’”

Nice, eh?  Thank you very much, “chief strategy officer!”  By the way, what’s the budget break down on cost-per-strategy-slide basis?

Casual hand grenades like that one don’t do much for collaboration, but the implications are more significant: if CMO doesn’t have the authority to execute, then the business cannot hold the CMO accountable. A CMO can’t have it both ways, and neither can the rest of the C-Suite.


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Photo credit: Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

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