Executives, hiring managers, and recruiters across industries looking for CMOs are setting themselves up for failure. How do I know?
Ask someone in a hiring position what they are looking for in a CMO. When I hear their responses, I can only equate what they describe to unicorns. If you don’t know any recruiters to ask, just read any CMO job posting out there. The list of qualifications are miles long and reach for the stars:
“Must leverage full suite of marketing channels including Digital/Social Media.”
“Must have a multi-cultural background and an international perspective.”
“Must collaborate daily with senior leadership on overall momentum, actively partnering across the organization to drive innovation, execution and goodwill.”
“Must be highly presentable with outstanding communication skills.”
“Must have experience in brand management, image management, product development, and product expertise.”
On top of this, the marketer also has to be a veritable wunderkind of content marketing. In theory, looking for this person is a great tactic. Finding someone who is outstanding at each component on the growing list of marketing tasks would be phenomenal-- it would also be impossible.
A CMO that fulfills all the qualifications listed on most CMO job descriptions does not exist.
Instead of trying to capture this Unicorn CMO, the powers that be should look for an individual that can build and lead a team that will execute in three crucial areas: corporate marketing (messaging and communications), product marketing (the classic 4 Ps), and demand generation (marketing and sales).
In my experience, I have found individuals with strengths in one or two of those areas but never all three. Expecting the CMO to be an expert in each area of marketing is like expecting the President to be an expert in each area of government. If that were a reasonable expectation, there would be no need for the cabinet.
Like in any leadership role, CMOs should be visionaries in their field, guiding their teams through the ever-changing marketing landscape in new and innovative ways. As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, the CMO must be the person to ensure that his/her department executes against its growing responsibilities towards driving revenue.
All CMOs trying to become the Unicorn CMO, view this as a cease and desist order! Instead, CMOs should see themselves more like CEOs for their marketing teams. They should maintain a dashboard view of their programs to manage their team, manage spend, track metrics, and ultimately focus on growing revenue.
Today’s marketers are on the hook for top-line growth like never before, and this responsibility necessitates a CMO who can keep focused on what matters to the rest of the C-Suite. As marketing success in not rooted in single, but multi-channel campaigns, the CMO should lead from a high level to ensure that his/her programs are well rounded, integrated, and ultimately successful.
The search for the mythical CMO should be called off immediately.
Instead of finding a CMO that can successfully wear countless hats, look for an individual with great marketing vision that aligns with your company’s overall goals. Then make sure that person can build and effectively manage a team to achieve those goals. Old school, hope driven marketing is long gone - the new age of marketing is here, and the successful marketers will be the ones who rise to the occasion.