Four Keys Areas Where the CMO Must Lead

I have been to many conferences and read many marketing articles about having marketing get a seat at the table. Of course this is in reference to CMOs being a part of the executive conversations that occur in the boardroom with the other members of the C-Suite…something that is not always accepted nor expected.

I do believe that many CMOs are making great strides in advancing their leadership positions within their organizations. However, I believe there is still some work to do to ensure they are seen as leaders in their organizations and will then obtain that seemingly elusive leadership seat at the table.

In working with many clients and speaking with  marketing decision makers, here are some of the most important areas I believe CMOs need to show stronger leadership in:

  1. Leading Change in Their Organizations

I have written many times about the need for change management in marketing organizations in order to adapt to the rapid shifts that are occurring with B2B buyers. Yet, in many organizations there is a lack of leadership regarding the need for change. In speaking with one CMO of an enterprise company the response was “I see the value in taking a new approach and believe it is needed, but it seems like a formidable challenge, so we will just keep going with things as they are.”  At the same time, the marketing team underneath him was pushing for the needed transformation and growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of movement which was a result in poor leadership.

  1. Alignment With Their Peers

There has been a lot written about the need for marketing and sales alignment and while many organizations are making strides in collaboration between the two groups, CMOs need to show better leadership in aligning with the rest of the organization.  Recent studies show that the CMOs alignment with CEOs, CFOs and CIOs is still an issue:

  • According to an Accenture study on CIO-CMO alignment, on 23% of marketers think the level of collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is either at or approaching the right level
  • According to Active International, while 77% of CMOs and 76% of CFOs agree alignment is critical, only 12% of CFOs say their CMO is excellent at connecting marketing projects to ROI.
  • According to the Fournaise Group, 80% of surveyed CEOs have stated they have lost faith in their CMOs

The need for CMOs to demonstrate leadership across the various areas of the organization in order to provide value to their buyers and customers is now more vital than ever. However, there continues to be issues that will take strong leadership to fix.

  1. Skill Training

In the Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Study that was published ANNUITAS, more than 55% of B2B Marketers stated there was a skills gap and that they did not have the necessary skills to do their jobs. Forrester released a report this year that showed that 96% of CMOs either agree or strongly agree that “the breadth of skills needed to succeed in marketing has increased dramatically”.  However, CMOs are not making the necessary investments in their people to help close this skills gap.

A study conducted by Focus and the Marketing Automation Institute uncovered that over 70% of marketers receive no training or are self-taught and more than 60% of organizations spend less than $1,000 annually on training their personnel.

If CMOs do not have the right staff, with the right skills that can execute and perform in a growing complex and sophisticated environment, how do they expect to provide greater value to the organization?  CMOs need to lead their teams and ensure they are appropriating the right amount of budget to skills development and education.  Building a strong team and investing in people is one of the trademarks of a good leader.

  1. Investing Wisely

According to the most recent Content Marketing Institute Benchmark Study, 55% of those surveyed said they would increase spending on content in the coming year.  However, the same study shows that only 35% of organizations have a defined content marketing strategy and only 8% say they are very effective with their content marketing.

Investing more money into 8% effectiveness and into an area that has no strategy is not just a lack of leadership, it is foolish! CMOs need to be better stewards of their budgets and begin to make wise investments that have a high return to the organization. In doing so, they will effectively demonstrate their own business value to their peers.

The need for leadership from the CMO role is more crucial than ever and still many are not fulfilling this obligation.  These four areas, while not the only areas, are a good place to start and will go a long way to bringing much needed transformation to marketing organizations.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalo CEO/Principal, ANNUITAS

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