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Here's Why Only 1 in 3 CMOs Comes from Marketing

Chris Moody
Director, Content and Social Marketing

Only 34% of Chief Marketing Officers come from marketing.K. Ullrich

Scary, right?

As marketing has evolved, the top marketing leaders actually have a very diverse background. The assumption, that CMOs are traditional marketers is incorrect, as most are coming from a different area of the business.

It does make some sense though as domain expertise, strategic / analytic, cross functional, and sales backgrounds represent very important areas of the business. There are learnings marketers can take away from this.

Marketing leaders have to know the business

The fact that 1 in 4 CMOs comes from a role with deep domain expertise tells us that we have to have a pulse on how our companies actually run.  The devil can indeed be in the details and if you can’t understand the feeds and speeds that drive your revenue, that seat at the C-suite table may be uncomfortable.

The strategic or analytic backgrounds of 15% of CMOs is a near perfect match to the alarmingly small number of CMOs that are able to deliver a seamless customer experience across all touch points (13%). The days of one-off marketing are dead. Any campaign, email, webinar, social post, blog or website should be a part of a larger, integrated marketing effort.  And that only addresses digital behaviors. Many companies must factor in off-line actions too – phone calls, store visits, etc.

Generalists trump specialists

The marketing landscape has changed more in the last 10 years than in the last 100. A recent ChiefMartec study found over 1,800 marketing tools in our ecosystem. A one trick pony will quickly become a one trick dinosaur (hint: ponies aren’t extinct). The 14% of CMOs with cross functional backgrounds have visibility into multiple areas of the business and are probably better at eliminating silos that can bring business screeching to a halt.

Think of the changes in our industry in the last few years. How has SEO changed? How has content changed? How has social changed? Many experts in specific areas of marketing lost their jobs and the excellent work they did may no longer be necessary. It wasn’t that long ago when the most recommended SEO strategy was to implement Google authorship. We all know how that ended…

An adversarial relationship with Sales will get you fired

Marketers have to collaborate and cooperate with Sales. We make each other successful. It is a tale as old as time. But, many are shocked to see that 13% of CMOs come from Sales. They know how the magic happens. They’ve seen deals close. They’ve rung the gong after closing a big deal. They’ve heard the pushback and figured out how to overcome any objections. They know the customer.

It is in our best interest to buddy up with Sales and get to know that side of the business. Jump on calls. Ride along on customer visits.

A diverse group of CMOs were surveyed in our guide: The CMO Solution Guide to Leveraging New Technology and Marketing Platforms. Download it today to learn how they are using technology to solve their business problems to drive real results.

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