Eclectic CMO- Myth or New Reality

9 07 2013

I read an article in Forbes online, http://www.forbes.com/sites/deancrutchfield/2013/07/02/the-rise-of-the-eclectic-cmo/, by Dean Crutchfield in which he spelled out the new type of CMO we are seeing in the business world.  He called these CMOs eclectic because they come from a variety of disciplines not traditionally marketing functions. It’s an interesting article and worthwhile reading not only for CMOs but also for others on management teams. I took the liberty to comment on that article and wanted to shared that with you.

I enjoyed reading Dean’s perspective because recently I have felt that CMOs are under appreciated and undervalued. Now part of that is the fault of the CMO themselves because many fall trap to being uni-dimensional ie. a focus on traditional advertising, a focus on promotions, a focus on product marketing. And sometimes it is the fault of the CEO who tries to pigeon hole the CMO into a very narrow scope.

I am not sure I would call it the rise of the eclectic CMO because the CMO just doesn’t derive  or bring in ideas from a variety of sources.  I believe that is the ante to play in the marketing game regardless what it is called.  I believe it goes further than that and is to the point raised in Dean’s article.

The CMO today is a business person first. Regardless of the business or the the market, the CMO has to understand the nature of the customer and apply the strengths of the company and its partners to satisfying the customers’ needs. The CMO has to be the “linking pin” between the customer (having a passion for understanding the customer) and the internal resources of the company to deliver the right products and services to the customer. Additionally the CMO must be the integrative factor on the executive team to get all the diverse functions to play well together. These two aspects are not easy to achieve but the successful CMO will have the standing in the company because he/she will be able to succeed in these areas.

Coincident with this philosophy, the new CMO must have the following characteristics:
>> Data driven with his/her best friend being the CIO or being a techie in his/her own right.
>> Fast, fluid and agile in developing ideas and executing them.
>> Pragmatic in determining what needs to get done and in what sequence given the resources given., This leads to an incessant focus on the right priorities to drive both top line revenue growth and margin.
>> A good psychologist not only to understand the drivers of the customers the company is serving, but also to understand the motivations and needs of the rest of the executive team. (Remember the CMO is the grand integrator internally).

I trust that others may have differing views. Yet one thing is evident. The old generation CMO doesn’t exist and the new generation CMO can become the driver for success of the company.

David Friedman

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