What CEOs Want From Their CMOs

What do CEOs want from Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs)? I asked that question on Forrester's CMO community site, triggering some excellent comments. You can check it all out here.

The CMO must provide the basics: “Increase revenue, decrease costs, no embarrassments.” But what about the non-obvious?

1) Innovation. CEOs know that innovation usually lies outside of the company -- in the free market of partners, inventors, new channels, and new technologies. Procter & Gamble plays this game brilliantly -- partnering with AstraZeneca on Prilosec OTC, Clorox on Glad Wrap Press'n Seal, and with its customers on the redesign of Tampax. The CEO wants the CMO scouting the path ahead -- outside of the four walls of the corporation.
 
2) Mediate the cultural conversation. As Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines used to say, "Culture is what people do when no one is looking." Culture is the honest, unvarnished, beliefs and behavior of your customers and your employees. In an age of social, customer culture and undiluted company culture continually butt up against each other -- producing ugly or amazingly productive moments. The CMO must moderate that raw conversation, protecting and elevating the brand as they do so.
 
3) Translate and illuminate technology. The CEO can’t keep up -- the CMO must continually teach what technology change is brewing and what matters. "Here comes app Internet -- what does it mean for us?"
 
4) Prove ROI. CEOs are suspicious of everyone’s value -- especially marketing's. The CMO must either put hard dollar returns on what they are doing, or make a damn good case for the soft returns: “…blogging will increase our brand recognition by 10%.”
 
5) Take me out for a "beer talk." As Javier Martin, the CEO of Almira Labs, says: “Have long talks with me about markets, products, ideas, desirably together with beers and golf. Don’t be the odd-one-out/snobby/unique guy that nobody understands because he is so creative and ahead of the rest of mortals. That won’t be helpful.”
 
What am I missing? What do you think the CEO wants from the CMO? I'd love to get your thoughts.

Comments

Two for one CMO's

Increasingly, CEO’s expect that the CMO will include the Chief Sales Officer (CSO) role maybe they should be called CRO (Chief Revenue Officer),
A true Buy-one get one free (BOGOF).

And, there is the rub!

CMO’s are ‘struggling’ with continual misalignment between Sales and Marketing. Software makes it worse, before it gets better (if it ever does get better). Their Leadership at the Mission, Vision level plays well in Marketing, but Sales don’t ‘get it’.

CMO Leadership at Sales Strategy and Sales Tactics is failing; their investment in Sales Enablement either doesn’t produce a ‘tangible’ result or is a disputed ‘anecdotal’ result.

As well as taking the CEO for a beer and a chat, CMOs will have to learn how to do this “where the rubber meets the road” for Sales and Customers. This the best place to show their understanding of Markets, Products and Ideas or more realistically to garner Market, Product and Ideas to tell the CEO!

P&G and LEGO do this really well.

Good Post

Good post George. One topic I've discussed numerous times in the very recent past is a mash up of one, three and five. Increasingly, tech CEO's are looking for CMO's to be Chief Strategy Officers. Marketing skills in branding, positioning and market analysis make some marketing executives strong candidates for that role.

Tech marketing execs that have risen through the ranks of product marketing are particularly well suited as that position has a robust view of many aspects required for a product's success. Product marketing is the group that helps product management craft compelling value propositions for their offerings and helps marketing communications understand the target market.

The most important pre-requisite, though, is the ability to think strategically. This is what separates CMO's and SVP's of Marketing from VP's and Directors. Of course there are many VP's and Directors that can think strategically but that might not be expected of them or part of their job description. When you reach CMO it is required.