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What the “Rebirth of the CMO” means for businesses and marketing professionals

The Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO, is a relatively new role at many companies, one that didn’t really take off until the rise of the internet. While not entirely different in function from the VP of Marketing role, the rise of the CMO coincides with the rise of the customer in shaping marketing goals and tactics for a company.

According to Wikipedia:

The CMO leads sales management product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications (including advertising and promotions), pricing, market research, and customer service. Every one of these responsibilities depends upon the CMO’s ability using the written word. CMOs must be able to explain a wide range of concepts across the specialized disciplines that power his or her company…

The CMO must quickly react to changing circumstances in the firm, and must shape the company’s understanding of a particular product, sales strategy, or marketing idea. Each of these products comes from a different department, so the CMO must be a nexus of information: it is a highly receptive role, with involvement in departments such as, but not limited to, production, information technology, corporate communications, documentation, public affairs, legal, human resources, and finance.

Over at the Harvard Business Review Blogs, some smart folks from McKinsey (both currently and formerly), wrote an intriguing post on what they perceive to be a “rebirth of the CMO”:

Digitally enabled tools and processes have altered what and how a business sells, flipped the tables on the typical customer relationship, introduced a glut of new channels and competitors, and made it harder for organizations to break through the “noise…”

All that has elevated – and complicated – the role of CMO. Delivering above-market growth increasingly hinges on differentiating the customer experience and building tighter customer relationships. That in turn relies on not only having excellent marketing capabilities, but also connecting marketing with the entire organization. That isn’t easy, but the payoff is worth it: Our most recent research shows that companies with excellent marketing capabilities outperform the market with 2-3X greater revenue growth.

While the CMO role necessarily varies across sectors, we see three activities that are now required of all CMOs.

  1. Discover data-driven insights that drive growth.
  2. Design the right strategies and processes to carry out the vision in a multichannel world.
  3. Become the organizational “glue” to deliver change.

Source: Harvard Business Review Blogs

Please read the rest of the article for more insight.

For even more insight on the role of CMOs, see this study by IBM based on face-to-face interviews with over 1,700 CMOs from 64 different countries. In addition, Deloitte published an outstanding treatise on the history of the CMO called, From Mad Man to Superwoman: The inevitable rise of the chief marketing officer in the age of the empowered customer.


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Image of Gerry Mulligan by Roberto Polillo