The Evolving New Role of a CMO

Nishi Saksena Uncategorized

As companies confront changing consumer behavior, increasingly important third-party scrutiny, and more diverse target markets and segments, they must broaden the roles of marketing and the CMO.

Today, many chief marketers focus mainly on building brands, making advertising more effective, and perhaps market research. Although these responsibilities aren’t going away, CMOs must address several other areas as well: leading company-wide change in response to evolving buying patterns, stepping up efforts to shape a company’s public profile, managing complexity, and building new marketing capabilities throughout the company as a whole.

The relative importance of these new priorities will of course vary by company and industry, but the broad importance of reinventing the CMO’s role as a strategic activist is similar across them.

Role of a CMO

According to McKinsey, “Few senior-executive positions will be subject to as much change over the next few years as that of the chief marketing officer.”

The expectations of a CMO today span across too many areas of business for CMOs to be successful. New initiatives that are often challenging to balance include demand gen and driving substantial portions revenue.

Where is there room for that same CMO to then be creative?

The New CMO

Branding, and the people behind it, is so much more than just a company logo and colors.

Traditionally, the CMO has been in charge of branding, digital, advertising and market research. All of those tasks have one thing in common: creativity. CMOs are passionate about shaping categories and even creating new categories altogether. Marketing wants to make a splash with our company positioning, the narrative and differentiation, all while reaching existing key audiences and driving revenue.

Investors expect explosive growth and success from the companies they’ve poured vast amounts of money into today. In order for this to be achieved, companies need to have a great growth-focused and demand-focused team leading the charge.

In the near future, a CMO will also take on responsibilities as a Growth Hacker. With these roles combines, the new CMO won’t just focus on customer acquisition, product adoption and usage, but also revenue and growth. In the end, the CMO + Growth Hacker combo will be able to answer a broad set of pipeline questions from the CEO and CFO such as “how did we do on signups, revenue, and churn this month?”

Right vs Left Brain, And A Solution To Achieving Both

A CMO being tasked with managing revenue is that it requires an entirely different type of thinking. This role is expected to juggle customer acquisition with a revenue mindset while also being creative on sales activation, market shaping, product adoption, pricing, packaging, branding and design. Today’s CMOs are becoming broad generalists and expected to be fully successful at all of the above.

Switching from creative brainstorming and idea generating to numbers-driven sales is not common, but today’s CMOs have had to adapt to this model. You must be creative and analytical at the same time.  Today’s fast-growing startup environment doesn’t allow for long ramp-up times or delayed results. And these problems are likely results of CMOs tasked with too much.

Traditionally speaking, people who consider themselves to be left-sided thinkers are said to be more practical, logical and analytical. People who are right-sided thinkers are much more focused on visuals, creativity and open communication. A future CMO could be someone that embodies all of those qualities.

CMOs need to prioritize the hires for a strong growth and demand gen team in order to make time for long-term strategy. If enterprise software continues to move at a consumer grade, there may be a need for two funnels and two revenue outputs. A CMO can operate alongside that growth team to help make this vision come to life.

Please join us in TieCon 2019 @ our Marketing & Sales Track on Friday, May 10th from 11:00am where CMO’s from Zendesk, Atlassian, and SalesLoft discuss this exciting topic live!

Writer, Krish Sri