CEOs Put CMOs in the Hot Seat to Deliver Disruptive Growth

November 3, 2016

by Carla Johnson

In a new report from Accenture Strategy, The C-Level Disruptive Growth Opportunity. Chief Marketing Officers: What your CEO Might Not Be Telling You, authors Kevin Quiring, Rachel Barton and Joanna Levesque bring to light a lurking threat of which CMOs may not be aware – CEO expectations to drive new growth opportunities for the enterprise. As traditional sources of revenue shrink, CEOs are looking for disruptive opportunities for growth and CMOs are the people they expect to drive it.

Why the CMaccenture-c-level-disruptive-growth-opportunityO?

“Given that CMOs fill a key role in the end-to-end customer experience and typically have control ofm any of the digital levers that drive disruptive growth, CMOs acting as Chief Growth Officers (CGO) only makes sense. The fact that CEOs hold a CMO’s feet closet to the fire if growth targets are not met only further supports this assertion.”

Alignment in this belief, however, is lacking between CEOs and CMOs. One-third of CEOs surveyed said that they would turn to their CMO first if growth targets aren’t being met. Forty-four percent of CEOs believe that disruptive growth is very important while only 37% of CMOs view it that way. Part of this disconnect may come from fractured views of who’s accountable for what. With more “C” titles coming into play – Chief Digital Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Data Officer – the real estate of responsibility isn’t clear.

Smart CMOs connect the dots

Granted, we live in a digital world but digital isn’t the only experience that customers have with a brand. Disruptive growth requires new value propositions and partnership as part of a bigger business platform.

In the report, 33% of CEOs say that marketing will sit under Digital within the next five years. Take heed, CMOs, because you need to take the bull by the horns not only for your own career stability, but to avoid losing control of a key area in the organization.

CMOs should be constantly looking over their shoulder, because the Chief Growth Officer title only comes when growth actually happens. And CEOs are quick to point out that the CMO is the first to go should growth targets not be met.

Telltale signs you’re on the right path

For a CMO to be headed in the right direction to becoming a CGO, they:

  • Are in total control of disruptive growth levers
  • Spend at least equal time or more on disruptive initiatives, compared to traditional growth agenda
  • Have dedicated marketing capital investment budget for infrastructure and application investments
  • Have P&L responsibility over disruptive initiatives (e.g., revenue from new ventures)
  • Have at least two initiatives ongoing with non-traditional partners to seek new revenue sources
  • Are embedded into the C-suite and move at pace (or ahead) of CEOs with respect to disruptive growth

Download the full report.

Photo credit: Flickr user Tsahi Levent-Levi

About Carla Johnson


Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do andth impact they can have. her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation (due out early 2021) busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. in fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.