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4 Things CMOs Can Do to Prolong Their Tenure

2017 study showed that CMOs are facing the shortest lifespan in the C-suite. This is due, in large part, to the rapid transformation of marketing technologies and practices. As a result, many CMOs are turning to data to prove their worth and demonstrate marketing ROI.

However, in order to prolong your tenure to work, it’s important to know what data is the most impactful to bring to the C-suite. Bonnie Crater, CEO of Marketing for ROI measurement platform Full Circle Insights, shared her insights with me on the four things a CMO can do to ensure they have a place in their company.

Why Such Low CMO Tenure?

Before learning about those four tips for prolonged tenure, I asked Bonnie if she could provide greater insights into why there has been such a low CMO tenure among all in the C-suite. She said a CEO once told her, “Marketing is a complicated discipline, and many CEOs don’t fully understand just how challenging it is.”

Yet there is more. Crater cited the lack of background in marketing by CEOs. Another key factor is marketing has been among the last departments to automate processes and generate hard performance metrics. Therefore, CEOs get performance metrics from every other department in the company. That leaves only fuzzy marketing data rather than specific metrics to track.

Crater added:

“Fortunately, best practices are emerging for marketing in the digital age, but we’re faced with complexity. So many new channels have emerged over the last 10 to 15 years. With new systems, marketing can now genuinely connect activities with company goals, so marketing initiatives align with overall objectives. When the marketing function is aligned with company goals and CMOs leverage technologies to measure progress and quantify results, misalignment can be reduced or eliminated.”

Cat Howell, the founder and CEO of Eight Loop Social, a social strategy agency specializing in Facebook advertising, adds that building an effective funnel and making sure a brand’s content and campaigns align with it is vital to success. She says the funnel is so fundamental that most companies assume they’re approaching it correctly, but the funnel may no longer be built to align with customers or the company’s objectives if it hasn’t been examined in a while.

CMOs have a better chance at extending their tenure when they more closely align marketing initiatives with company objectives. That leads to four key things a CMO can do to change their status:

1. Planning

Planning typically is an annual activity.  It involves identifying sales goals and understanding how to achieve them by measuring lead volume, conversion rates, and velocity. Planning aligns marketing objectives by disclosing how many leads are needed to meet revenue targets.

2. Achieving

Achieving occurs when a CMO tracks goals to understand performance versus objectives. This reveals specific results. Marketers should monitor progress at various intervals. Ideally, it helps to use a dashboard. Predictive analytics can help professionals see patterns in the data that can bring insight and lead to better performance. According to Crater, this ensures they are achieving the results they need to meet goals that were outlined in the planning phase.

3. Optimizing

This is the process of making changes to improve results. For example, a CMO can adjust marketing-sales handoff processes to increase efficiency. This is also a way to ensure opportunities don’t fall by the wayside. Marketers should look at process improvement opportunities on a regular basis.

4. Evaluating

Finally, evaluating involves looking at campaign results and assessing the marketing mix. If a campaign strategy works especially well, marketers can decide to increase its use. Likewise, they can discontinue less effective programs.

Results of These Tactics

Crater’s own experience with seeing these tactics enacted by CMOs has always been positive. She stated, “CMOs who align their department’s activities with company objectives and access the technologies they need to get a granular view of progress can improve marketing efficiency by 30%, 50%, and sometimes 100%.  My observation is that marketers who follow this approach get promoted. They are certainly not getting fired.”

Shun the Silos

It’s critical that marketing and sales figures line up to ensure accurate and standardized reporting. That means avoiding the often omnipresent silos that exist between sales and marketing. This is not always an easy thing to do.

That’s because software solutions for marketing and sales use function as their separate systems of record. If sales and marketing don’t use a common database, their data won’t match. Neither will find the other’s numbers credible. Crater offered a solution. “Consolidate data on a single system.” It already functions as the system of record for many companies. When marketing and sales have a single source of data truth, they can standardize reporting, create coherent strategies, and more closely align their operations. Transparency breeds success.”

New Roles for CMOs

While marketing initially lagged behind other departments in automation and data application, CMOs who commit to applying data and measuring results are quickly becoming as information-rich as CFOs. This is enhancing their stature within the C-suite. Crater’s vision of the future includes CMOs moving to other data-driven roles, such as Chief Revenue Officer. For CMOs, there is much opportunity ahead if they focus on these four things and create a role for themselves in the new digital environment.

* A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.


How can a CMO work with their budget and also maximize opportunities as they emerge? Find out by reading “CMOs Need to Balance the Expensive Cost of ‘Free.’”

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