Why the CMOs Job is Harder Than Ever

This month, the CMO Council and Deloitte published a report entitled “The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift,” which examines the changing role of the CMO. Interestingly, consulting firm Spencer Stuart published a report on a similar topic earlier this year and indicated that the tenure of the CMO had dropped from 48 months to 44 months, the first decline in the last ten years. The CMO Council’s report attempts to explain how the CMO’s job responsibilities are changing and where many CMOs are falling short.

In a nutshell, the report is critical of the way many CMOs spend their time — focused on marketing campaigns, budget discussions, and meetings rather than more strategic business drivers. Only a small segment of responding CMOs are working to improve the customer journey, though they consider customer experience to be a differentiator for their company. Further, many CMOs are struggling to measure the impact of their efforts and spending, which may be a contributing factor to the declining tenure of a company’s top marketer.

Some of the key findings are as follows:

Marketing is expected to be a driver of business growth, but chief marketers are focused on campaigns rather than revenue-generation.

When asked to rank the top methods by which marketers can drive revenue, most respondents selected campaign-oriented tactics (rather than more strategic revenue-generating programs). The top three methods selected were:

  • Utilizing data for effective campaign spend (44%)
  • Embracing new digital advertising and engagement technologies (44%)
  • Increasing brand value through intrusive and creative ads (33%)

In contrast, revenue-focused methods ranked at the bottom. The bottom three methods were:

  • Finding new ways to recover and reactivate languishing accounts (8%)
  • Embracing eCommerce and new monetization programs (10%)
  • Inspiring successful products and new revenue streams (17%)

Marketers need to re-prioritize their time to avoid functional distractions.

When asked how CMOs spend their time:

  • Marketing leaders claim to spend significant time reviewing marketing plans, budgets, and campaigns (45%)
  • Leading meetings (42%)

On the flip side:

  • Only 8% were focused on improving the customer experience
  • Only 16% were partnering with other executives on global business and strategy


Many CMOs aren’t truly focused on the customer experience.

About 44% of CMOs believe their brand is differentiated by the customer experience, but only 26% believe that the role of marketing is to serve as the primary architect and champion of the customer experience. Additionally, many marketers believe that the most critical moments in the customer journey occur during the sales process (evaluation of need (53%), brand consideration (44%) and search and discovery (41%)) – rather than later in the customer experience.

Marketers are just starting to understand customer experience as a business driver.

Chief marketers are beginning to shift their thinking, as well as the company’s strategy and their investment in technology to optimize the customer experience. Most importantly, savvy marketers are using the language of business to explain the impact of their spending and strategy. Almost three quarters of respondents use revenue growth as a measure of success, and almost half use metrics such as sales velocity, conversion rates, and market share gains. To be clear, this is an emerging skill. Only one in four CMOs feel they are able to clearly quantify marketing’s impact on business, while 68% are working on it but have room for improvement.

Martyn Etherington, CMO of Cisco Jasper, sums up the report with this quote, “It is incumbent upon marketers … to step up, assume accountability, and drive growth. If you deliver results, you will excel. If you don’t, your replacement will.”

If you’re planning for 2017 and need a little inspiration, take a look at the report. Happy Holidays and happy reading!