The CMO’s blurred lines: Power without influence means innovation is needed to secure value

The CMO’s role continues to adapt and evolve. While crafting a compelling story out of a brand’s narrative remains the goal, the method has changed, from creative to numbers-focused. This changing focus has long been the fulcrum on which the value the CMO brings to the leadership team, as well as the wider value of marketing to the business as a whole.

A new report from The CMO Club, alongside Deloitte, has explored this ever-brittle balance to assess the future of the marketing organisation and where the leader sits.

The study, which polled more than 400 senior marketing executives worldwide, found that brand visibility still trumps all when it comes to benchmarks. More than half of those polled (51%) said their top measurement of success in the eyes of their CEO was awareness, ahead of sales and revenue (31%) and media return on investment (29%). Almost three quarters of CMOs (71%) said they consider their role as part of the C-suite, with 59% reporting directly to the CEO.

Yet the figures were somewhat blurred when it came to assessing profit and loss. More than two thirds of those polled (68%) said they had P&L responsibility, yet only 16% said they had responsibility for the company’s sales force.

Some organisations however look beyond the title and the traditional hierarchy. Marisa Thalberg, who left Taco Bell last year, saw a change in her job title from CMO to global chief brand officer in 2018. “When the role is scoped well and you have the right big talent in place, regardless of title, it becomes a very end-to-end role in terms of owning strategy and growth,” she told the report. “That is especially important when you’re responsible for driving business, not just brand.”

On average, there are between two and three layers of management in each marketing organisation. Marketing strategy (78%), as well as marketing operations and technology (71%), are the primary reports for the CMO. Yet three in five CMOs (61%) admitted they did not have a direct report who could step into their shoes tomorrow.

In many instances, it was a case of moving from quantity to quality which worked for organisations. Dee McLaughlin, CMO at Capital Group’s American Funds arm, noted how through better methods of working, leads were able to close sales 30% over the previous year. “That’s ultimately what gives undisputed value to the role marketing plays in sales,” said McLaughlin.

“In order to succeed in today’s ever-changing business environment, C-suite leaders are challenged to adapt to new trends while executing tried-and-true strategies,” said Jennifer Veenstra, managing director of the CMO program at Deloitte. “Having benchmark data will help CMOs and senior marketing leaders develop, design and implement changes that can transform their organisations’ marketing efforts.”

You can read the full report here (client access required).

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