What the C-suite thinks about CMOs

The most senior client-side marketing position, the chief marketing officer, is reportedly under threat, under-regarded and lacking confidence. But new research from Deloitte finds that such existential worries may be overblown.

Professional services firm Deloitte, recently surveyed 575 C-suite executives from across the Fortune 500, including CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CTOs, along with 19 in-depth interviews. Some of the results were published in the Harvard Business Review. Here’s what you need to know.

CMOs are overly worried

According to the research a tiny minority (5%) of CMOs feel highly confident – strongly agree – in their ability to impact the strategic direction of the overall business, and gain the support of their C-suite peers. As the authors of the research note, this is far below the rest of the suite’s personal ratings.

They are similarly worried about competencies: just over a quarter (27%) feel they demonstrate financial impact “extremely well,” while 32% say they perform similarly at understanding their customers. The same proportion report being good at collaboration.

They are considered experts by peers

But they undersell themselves, according to other members of the C-suite, who often respect the CMO’s expertise and efficacy. This is especially true of CEOs, of whom 50% believe their marketing chiefs are highly effective.

It’s a similar picture reported from information and technology chiefs, who are particularly admiring of CMOs’ knowledge of the customer – though they would like to see marketing initiating collaboration more. The finance department’s perspective is similar.

Particularly in the area of demonstrating financial impact, both CSOs and COOs are doubtful of CMO’s abilities across nearly all competencies. In this regard, the sales chiefs are very critical.

What to do about it

Customer understanding is a key area of expertise that other C-suite positions respect. The authors recommend this understanding of the end-consumer and their route through the market as key strategic intelligence that can become part of an offer to other executives that will allow them to achieve their own goals.

Given that a brand is experienced at every different touchpoint that the company offers, it is surprising that CMOs often score so low on collaboration. Just 17% of the surveyed executives reported having collaborated with CMOs in the last year.

“They should invite C-suite colleagues to co-own key initiatives that are of shared interest (such as evaluating new geographic markets) and that leverage the CMO’s unique customer insight.”

Considering the relatively high opinion in which CEOs hold them, ensuring their advocacy in collaboration is a strong first step in bringing more collaboration.

Sourced from Deloitte (HBR) via WARC

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