CMOs Take the Wheel: New Opportunities as Business Drivers, Growth Strategists and Revenue Generators

December 13, 2016

by Carla Johnson

As the CMO role moves away from brand ombudsman and into new areas of responsibility, strategy is squarely in their crosshairs.

CMO of today is actively asserting a new role as business driver, change agent and customer experience champion, according to a newly released report from the CMO Council and Deloitte titled The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift.

It’s certainly not news that the CMO role is expanding. The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that 75% of marketers said they will be responsible for end-to-end experience over the customer’s lifetime. This ownership of the customer experience has also heralded in a new sense of empowerment and influence as CMOs have become strategic members of the C-suite.

This CMO Council study revealed that 69% of CMOs saw themselves as trusted members of the C-suite, increasing in stature and credibility among key business leaders. The challenge, however, is the CMOs ability to shed operational burdens that free them up to focus on bigger strategies. In fact, when they were asked what they spend the most time doing, CMOs were most apt to point to time spent reviewing and approving marketing plans, budgets and campaigns (45%). Next up was attending or leading meetings with peers across the company (42%).

[ctt title=”69% of CMOs see themselves as trusted members of the C-Suite. ” tweet=”69% of CMOs see themselves as trusted members of the C-Suite. via @CarlaJohnson” coverup=”mkcfa”]

In a significant contrast, only 1 in 6 reported spending a lot of their time teaming with leadership executives on global business and strategy, which the analysts interpret as their being left out of their senior leadership dialogue. But that’s exactly where CMOs want to be.

Here’s how this sentiment breaks down:

  • The best of intentions to advance the growth agenda are often being sidetracked by a legacy of brand-centric strategies and campaign-focused actions. This calls into question the realities of the CMO truly becoming the primary growth driver.
  • The CMO has the opportunity, if not the requirement, to become the primary driver and orchestrator of the customer experience. However, CMOs are bogged down in operational and functional tasks, like budget meetings and approval cycles, leaving less time to collaborate with the C-suite and advance the digital transformation needed to meet the expectations of tomorrow’s customer.
  • Tremendous opportunities await CMOs in 2017 as they more fully embrace the roles, actions and strategies that drive substantive growth for the entire organization. From influencing strategic planning and business development to advancing customer-centric shifts across the enterprise, CMOs are ready to become corporate change agents, driving the development of next-generation products, services and business models that fundamentally shift the business and lift the bottom line.

If CMOs want to take on a greater role in driving the business, then consistently proving business value and impact is crucial. While only a few feel they do a good job of quantifying and communicating marketing’s impact, 75% are turning to revenue growth as a key measure of success and 45% look at sales velocity, funnel strength and conversion rates.

Download and read the full report here.

Photo credit: Flickr user Jay Parker


     About Carla


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 and the 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, is a #1 new release that 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.