7 Habits of a Revenue-Driven CMO

An overview of the job description for a revenue-driven CMO should begin something like this:

The revenue-driven CMO is the “hub” of brand, product marketing and demand marketing activity at YOUR_COMPANY_NAME. Responsible for the strategic direction and architecture of all marketing efforts, and 100% focused on the revenue impact of all marketing activity, this leadership role is the antithesis of John Wanamaker’s marketing maxim “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

There is a full job description at the bottom of the page, which is important as research continues to confirm that the riskiest and most short-lived job of the C-suite is the chief marketing officer (CMO). One study from Korn Ferry estimates that the average tenure of a CMO is a mere 4.1 years—half of the average tenure of a CEO and less than the CFO, CIO and chief HR officer.1 A separate study from Spencer Stuart found that the average CMO tenure among consumer brands has been on a declining trend for the last two years.2

What’s the problem? Put simply: The role of today’s CMO is changing. What used to be a straightforward position focused on right-brain skills and campaign execution is evolving into a more complicated role that requires a diverse mix of creativity, financial literacy, technical acumen, and strategic vision.

And while this blend of skills can be challenging to find, it is not impossible. In fact, it is critical in today’s competitive landscape. Knowing what to look for in a CMO is imperative for companies that want to drive organizational change, reach new customers, and increase revenue.

As the late Stephen Covey stated in his well-known book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, success starts with having the end in mind. If the goal is to turn marketing activities into revenue generators, then it is critical to find a leader that is focused on the same end goal and, more importantly, has the skills to achieve that goal.

The following is a list of seven “habits” to look for in an effective, revenue-driven CMO, as well a sample job description to aid companies in their search.

    1. Strategic view of demand. For years, CMOs have been laser-focused on visual brand identity and execution of campaigns, but more is needed from a CMO today. Revenue-driven CMOs think beyond brand. They have a long-term, strategic view of demand, and they understand that a singular marketing push doesn’t reliably and consistently fill the pipeline. Their focus is generating demand that is perpetual, sustainable, and dictated by the dynamic needs of the buyer.
    2. Outcome orientated. CMOs often obsess about marketing ROI; however, they focus on activities and their costs, not on demand and revenue. Getting to ROI requires being responsible not only for marketing investment, but also for the overall return. CMOs need to care about demand outcomes — revenue. Their goal should not be to simply distribute brand messaging. Instead, they need to ensure that marketing has a measurable contribution to the pipeline and sales.
    3. Analyzes numbers, doesn’t just report them. This is perhaps one of the biggest shifts in the CMO role. Today’s marketing leaders need to be able to report on more than web traffic, downloads and clicks. Marketing engagement needs to be tied to revenue results, and effective revenue-driven CMOs are strategic planners with financial acumen, able to communicate pipeline and revenue impact to sales, operations, and planning teams. Marketing is no longer simply about the media leveraged. Instead, it should be about running quantitative numbers against every marketing channel and analyzing what those numbers mean.
    4. Focuses on optimization and execution. A revenue-driven CMO should be concerned with optimizing his or her marketing investment and the outcome of it, not just executing a plan. CMOs should be regularly monitoring the different dimensions of the companies’ strategy and be able to make adjustments geared towards revenue growth. This includes continual optimization of all four elements of demand marketing—people, process, content, and technology.
    5. Thinks about marketing in terms of perpetual engagement with customers, not campaigning to prospects. Too many CMOs continue to market “inside out,” clinging to the “push” of product and company information via interruptive tactics. Research continues to show that this type of marketing approach often fails because messages are in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, in one survey from Accenture Interactive, CMOs reported that of all the individuals they reach with their marketing messages, “fewer than 18 percent are actually in the market for the product or service on offer.”3 In order to be successful, revenue-driven CMOs must shift their fundamental approach to marketing to better align with the customer’s lifecycle. This includes building a marketing engine that constantly engages, nurtures, and converts buyers on the timeframe that is right for the buyer.
    6. Defines brand in terms of customer relationship, not visual identity. A revenue-driven CMO should view brand as a dialogue between the buyer and the company providing a product or services. Instead of simply thinking about brand in terms of recognizable visual identity, today’s CMO should think about customer lifetime value, and how to build a better customer relationship with both new and existing customers. According to a report from Forrester, “a new reality is setting in where CMOs must manage brands holistically, ensuring consistency between brand promise and the experience delivered.”4 It is no longer enough for a CMO to ensure that a potential buyer recognizes a company name or promise. Today’s revenue-driven CMO is in charge of delivering that message to buyers and then ensuring that those buyers turn into (and remain) happy, loyal customers.
    7. Strives to be the chief customer experience officer. According to a recent Deloitte study, “being the voice of the customer at the leadership table” was ranked as the most important role for an effective CMO.5 In another CMO survey from IBM, two-thirds of respondents regard developing deeper, richer customer experiences as their top marketing priority.6 The message is clear: Revenue-driven CMOs can’t just focus on the promotional side of business if they want to build customer lifetime value. Instead, they need to advocate for the buyer and be committed to enhancing and improving their experience in order to drive revenue. This means that marketing leaders must be the voice inside the company that re-orients and constantly re-invigorates the company’s processes and systems around the customer.

Sample Revenue-Driven CMO Job Description

Position Overview:

The revenue-driven CMO is the “hub” of brand, product marketing and demand marketing activity at YOUR_COMPANY_NAME. Responsible for the strategic direction and architecture of all marketing efforts, and 100% focused on the revenue impact of all marketing activity.

The CMO reports to the CEO and works in tandem with the CRO/Head of Sales. He or she is responsible for driving company growth via marketing’s contribution to pipeline and revenue.

The primary focus of the position consists of:

  • Development, implementation and oversight of a perpetual, always-on demand marketing strategy focused on creation of pipeline and revenue
  • Guardianship of the customer experience at all levels of engagement, from pre-sale to post-sale across all steps in the buyer’s journey
  • Optimization of all marketing programs, with a focus on revenue-based KPIs rather than activity-based marketing “vanity metrics” such as visits, clicks, likes and opens
  • Management and mentorship of the marketing team with an eye towards change management and coaching focused strategic activities that drive corporate growth

Core Areas of Responsibility

As the leadership position with oversight of all marketing activity, the CMO serves a pivotal role in the acquisition and retention of customers through a relentless focus on customer experience. The CMO will ensure that all tactical marketing work is entirely dedicated to the support of a strategic demand process architecture.

This includes the following:

  • Ensure that all marketing activity is modeled after a dialogue with buyers, as opposed to a monologue about products and services. Devise a strategy designed to (a) learn from every customer or prospect interaction and (b) adapt to the needs of each individual prospect or customer.
  • Create and support a team dedicated to building buyer personas that will drive understanding of the buyer’s journey, and subsequently create content to support every persona at each stage of their journey
  • Identify and enable revenue-focused KPIs that will be utilized to accurately measure marketing performance
  • Closely collaborate with sales and customer success as the ultimate guardian of the customer experience
  • Leverage and adapt the marketing technology suite to both support the customer experience at every step of the buyer’s journey and capture all necessary data to optimize marketing performance based on revenue impact
  • Directly or indirectly manage all marketing personnel, ensuring that the entire team is focused on execution against the same set of revenue-focused KPIs
  • Perform regular quality checks to ensure that all optimization recommendations being delivered to the leadership team align with the corporate growth goals. Use data and reports to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Act as a marketing ‘traffic manager’ to ensure that progress against deadlines, milestones, budget and corporate objectives are being met
  • Stay informed and up to date on industry trends, research and key events as they relate to demand marketing, customer experience, content marketing and customer engagement
  • Align with the non-marketing C-Suite to ensure that marketing program margins and program objectives are in line with corporate goals and growth targets

Required Knowledge, Skills & Characteristics

  • 10-15 years experience in B2B Demand Generation (B2C a plus) including program development, marketing automation implementation and use, organizational planning and development
  • Experienced with marketing automation technology as well as CRM and SEO tools
  • In-depth knowledge of big data and its impact on marketing performance
  • Experience in managing and working within complex global enterprises
  • Experience in managing teams, resource planning and budgeting
  • Experience in managing and implementing change across a global enterprise
  • Able to work in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment
  • Proven ability to inspire and lead a team
  • Excellent presentation, communication and interpersonal skills
  • MBA in Marketing, Management, Finance, Accounting or appropriate and relevant experience
  • Financial acumen and experience related to running a business, not only running marketing
  • Experience working in an agency and/or consulting environment supporting demand marketing activities of multiple clients a plus

1 “Age and Tenure in the C-Suite: Korn Ferry Institute Study Reveals Trends by Title and Industry,” February 2017.

2 Spencer Stuart, 13th Annual CMO Tenure Study, March 2017.

3 Accenture Interactive, ”Waste or Win? The Case for Just-in-time Marketing,” 2016.

4 Forrester, “Predictions 2018: Visionary CMOs Will Focus On Growth And Customer-Obsession,” November 2017.

5 Deloitte, “The CMO Survey,” August 2017.

6 IBM Institute for Business Value, “Redefining Markets: Insights from the Global C-suite Study – The CMO perspective,” 2016.

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