“I’ve seen smart, dynamic executives falter in the CMO position when the job itself isn’t structured for power.”
“I was all in favor of a renewed focus on marketing and brand,” the former chief marketing officer recalls, “But it was clear as we discussed the proposal that everyone was thinking of this as purely a communications and advertising initiative. At that point I realized my efforts to position myself as an organizational change agent had fallen short.”
It’s a failure that seems to infect the CMO suite, with chief marketing officers suffering an average tenure of less than two years, according to a much-discussed study by Spencer Stuart in 2004. Marketing executives have an image problem, and it begins with the very definition of the title.
What is meant by “marketing?”
“There are three basic types of marketing people in an organization, and where the CMO fits in depends a lot on the viewpoint of the CEO,” says business researcher Vijay Mahajan [right] who has studied the CMO phenomenon extensively.
“You’ve got marketing, sales and communications, they are not all the same, obviously. How the CMO is positioned within the organization has a tremendous impact on his or her power to influence major decisions in the firm.”
Pete Hayes, Principal and CMO at Chief Outsiders, agrees. “We see CMOs get stuck in a pure communications role versus one that is at the heart of the business. If you are just talking about products that are developed, it is only a shiny veneer, and the rest of the organization won’t value that.”