Chief Marketing Officer may be a well-known title, but not everyone means the same thing when they use the term. In fact, according to this survey by Forbes Insights, the modern CMO typically falls into one of six different roles, or “personas” according to this interesting infographic:

Dynamic Orchestrator (34%): Exceptionally agile operator, despite the constant need for control;

Selective Defender (25%): Wisely picks battles to safeguard existing market share – typically more risk-averse than the other personae;

Strategic Guru (21%): A lifelong marketer with strategy-oriented responsibilities, typically found at larger companies;

Untapped Potential (16%): Regardless of individual personality and talent, these CMOs are trapped in slow-moving, tightly buttoned-down companies with limited prospects;

Demand Driver (3%): Often loaded up on sales experience, these CMOs deliver on lead-gen and CRM;

Conventional Coach (2%): The “old fashioned” CMO, delivers relatively non-dynamic campaigns for large, steady companies.

Part of the reason for these different approaches is due to the diversity of backgrounds shared by CMOs. 35% of surveyed CMOs indicated a marketing background, whereas 29% noted that they come from the operations side. Customer service came in at 19%, while technology (9%) and even finance (5%) yielded a few more.

You might think that the roles covered by CMOs would offer more similarity given the shared title, but even here responsibilities diverged. Marketing analytics, marketing research, and advertising/branding were the most popular areas to cover, which makes sense; however, market entry strategies for expansion and customer engagement were also popular responses. Positioning, digital and social media, and lead generation were all mentioned as areas of responsibilities for almost half of the surveyed CMOs as well.

With such a diversity of personalities and roles, it should come as no surprise that the survey indicated a diversity of ambitions. Over half of the marketing executives cited “influencing product and market strategy” and “building partnerships between marketing and other functions” as personal aims, while 49% were shooting to influence corporate strategy. Internal growth through elevating the status of marketing functions within the business scored highly as well with 45% of respondents selecting it. And 30% were concerned with building a legacy and testing their own marketing philosophy.

Customer loyalty and share of customer wallet was a common pain point across the board, with 50% of CMOs calling attention to it. Internally, demonstrating ROI was also widely shared as a concern, with 41% recognizing it as a pain point. Other challenges that were noted included aligning objectives with other functions (40%), creating a single customer experience (39%), integrating social media into strategy (39%), and usefully harnessing insights from big data (31%).

However, one point that almost every CMO could agree on – 92% of surveyed marketing executives indicated that they had a growth mandate of some sort.

To read more about CMOs, check out our previous blog posts on the topic by clicking here or here.


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