The Chief Marketing Officer: Three Distinct Types

Most CMOs, we’ve observed, have a few areas of core responsibility. More than 90% are responsible for marketing strategy and implementation, and more than 80% control brand strategy and customer metrics. But beyond that, the range of duties—from pricing to sales management, public relations to e‑commerce, product development to distribution—is mind-boggling.

Extract from an article by Kimberly Whitler and Neil Morgan

Not all CMO positions should be the same. Companies have different needs, challenges, and goals, and the CMO’s role has to reflect those realities. Before even considering candidates for the job, a CEO must decide which kind of CMO would be best for the company. In our research we’ve identified three distinct types.

Some CMOs focus on strategy. They take the lead on up-front decisions about the firm’s positioning and then translate those decisions into the design of new products, services, and experiences. Often they manage the customer insight and analytics functions. In essence, strategy-focused CMOs spearhead a company’s innovation efforts. Accounting for 31% of CMOs in our research, they’re common in multibrand firms and in some B2B service firms where a centralized marketing group helps set firm-level strategy.

Most CMOs focus on commercialization. They have a downstream role and work primarily on using marketing communications to sell the products, services, and experiences that others design. Typically, their responsibilities include overseeing traditional and digital efforts to create revenue-growing relationships with consumers. Nearly half of CMOs (46%) have this kind of role. Common in firms where a function other than marketing is central to success, commercializers play a supporting role to the function that drives innovation (such as engineers in tech firms).

The third kind of CMO handles both strategy and commercialization responsibilities in an enterprise-wide role focused on the design and implementation of strategy. Significantly, such CMOs have P&L responsibility and the broadest range of duties, including innovation, sales, distribution, and pricing. In our research 23% of CMOs have an enterprise-wide role. They tend to be common in single-brand firms and some consumer-packaged-goods companies. Because of the scope of their responsibilities and the organization-wide nature of their impact, marketers with this kind of experience have historically been seen as strong general managers and are often tapped for CEO roles at other firms.

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery