CMOs: What they are, what they do, and why they are so important


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What’s in the C-suite, you ask? It might sound like a hotel room, but, in fact, this term refers to the most important roles in any given organization. You’re likely familiar with some of them, such as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or CFO (Chief Financial Officer), perhaps even the COO (Chief Operating Officer). However, as a relatively new part of the typical corporate structure, the meaning of CMO often escapes people — even though the prevalence of this role has grown by 22% in the last year.

Any modern business needs the backbone of a strong marketing department, and more specifically, a coherent and effective strategy that can adapt to the ever-changing business world. Today, these responsibilities frequently fall on the Chief Marketing Officer, or ‘CMO’.

Whether you’re an executive who wants to better understand the dynamics of this crucial role, or an employee who’s hungry for more business knowledge, this article will explore a day in the life of your typical CMO and what their overall impact is.

What is a CMO?

A CMO is an executive-level role in a corporation or organization. They head up the overall strategy for communicating what the company offers the consumer, client or other partner. In other words, they will take charge of a business’s marketing and advertising efforts. Perhaps the most vital part of this role is in understanding exactly how the company’s interests can meet those of their ideal customer, in order to broaden and deepen its appeal to this audience.

Typically, a CMO will report to the CEO or COO. However, since it is a relatively new role and title in your typical corporate structure, it is also more flexible than older titles. For this reason, as Egon Zehnder explains, “to be successful, today’s CMO must excel in cross-functional partnerships and understand the entire value chain of the business.”

What exactly does a CMO do?

The goal of a business is ultimately to drive revenue. This is achieved in several ways, with various departments coming up with different strategies. The CFO, for example, is responsible for managing cash flow and revenue growth. They do not actively generate income, but monitor and execute decisions in order to maximize profit, which is one of the five key drivers of revenue.

A CMO, however, typically seeks to ensure the greatest level of profit through controlling the company’s image and distinct offering. In doing so, they aim to attract the highest level of customer conversion and satisfaction possible. The CMO provides leadership to develop an overall strategy of communication from the organization to their target audience. The content of this communication is what makes up the company brand — for instance, their beliefs, identity and clear value for customers.

Responsibilities

The main duties of a CMO usually fall around building and executing marketing campaigns and conducting market research. According to TechTarget, the technical description of a CMO states that their job is to understand how the company is positioned in the marketplace and determine that position.

Their task is to develop and execute the strategy that will take the organization to the desired position. This may be done through traditional methods but also deciding on the use of data analytics and other fresh technology. The CMO’s skill for identifying how to connect with target demographics and effectively implement a campaign is therefore what gives them the authority to lead.

Why is the CMO so important?

Management

Though a recent staple of the modern corporate structure, this leadership role delivers a unique set of values to a business. Serving as the chief of any given department involves acting as a role model for employees and managers alike.

The CMO will help to steer the culture and operations of the company, with strengths for decision-making and relationship-building. They will advise the CEO and CFO on the performance of the marketing department and determine a great deal of the recruitment strategy for new employees.

Vision

For the nitty gritty of marketing and communications, the CMO will oversee the company’s approach to strategy. Often they will hold advanced business or management degrees and rely on the great deal of expertise gained from this background. 

However, they do not have to know every aspect of the discipline inside out — in fact, a wise man once said that the key to executing a vision successfully is to hire people who are better than you. 

Forbes sums it up nicely: “CMOs bring true marketing vision to the organization, helping to create and shape the company’s position within that market.”

Direction

Ultimately, it is down to the unique and formidable skillset of a CMO that they can ensure the continued success of a company through finding new people to engage with. It is they who identify and evaluate the position and performance of the business in order to find new customers and solve problems effectively.

By developing a strategy through their knowledge, resources and excellent management, they drive the direction of a company’s attempts to sell itself to as wide and bankable an audience as it can.