About CMO R-E-S-P-E-C-T…

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Aretha Franklin sang about it, Rodney Dangerfield joked about it and Rod Brooks implies that CMOs have some work to do in gaining R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  (Be sure to read his column on the challenges facing corporate chief marketing officers today.) It’s also easy to find extensive opining on the subject of CMO respect on the Internet.

As one who spent 16 years as a CMO in the public sector (with Metro Transit) in a previous career (life?), I’d rank “respect” from superiors and  management peers as the No. 1 challenge in this or any time. All other challenges pale in comparison, because—minus respect—all of the CMO’s efforts essentially occur in a vacuum. Nonetheless, here’s what some of the online sages have to say on the subject:

• Author and consultant Bruce Philp wrote: “Being a CMO has never been a cakewalk, of course. Autonomy in that role is always a tricky business, given that you’re never far from someone who thinks they can do the job better. If you’re extra lucky, that someone might even be your CEO. Likewise, it’s challenging to feel like you’ve ever really mastered the craft. In the best of times, everything a  CMO does is a gamble, with ephemeral results; that’s a hundred times truer today, with marketing tools multiplying faster than anyone could truly claim to keep up with… CMOs and CEOs share one all-consuming purpose: growth. Everyone else at the table is at least partly concerned with what it will cost, how to manage it or how to share the spoils. But no executive function will ever have more influence on a CEO’s legacy than marketing. If they don’t have CMOs sitting at their right hand, they’d better be ready to do the job themselves. And have the thick skin to go with it…”

• Blogger Jon Miller of Modern Marketing said: “To be successful, the CMO must play a broader role than just leading the marketing organization. The role must include driving revenue, leading innovation and providing strategic vision. These growth champions must lead all four Ps—not just Promotion, but also Product strategy, Place (channel and distribution) and Pricing (also see Add ‘QSFV’ To The ‘Four Ps’ Of Marketing). Like other C-level execs, the CMO must be rigorous in their financial planning and metrics, making revenue forecasts and justifying their budgets like the investment in the future that marketing spending really is…”

• And Tim Furey, CEO of MarketBridge, wrote: “CMOs with greater quantitative focus and measurement emphasis will have a significantly longer expected tenure—more than 20% longer… the age of the rock-star CMO is going away. We’re entering the era of the geek. Or, to put it another way, if you’re going to be a rock star, you’d better get some really good roadies working for you…”

I’m sure that Aretha would agree…                                                                                    —LC