The rise of the CMO: Research reveals growth of boardroom marketing roles - Press Gazette

The rise of the CMO: Research reveals growth of boardroom marketing roles

New figures from professional networking giant LinkedIn show that marketing-oriented roles have witnessed the biggest growth in share of hires out of all C-suite roles in the past year.

Chief communications officer, chief growth officer and chief marketing officer roles have increased by 35%, 33% and 22% respectively.

Senior Director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Tunji Akintokun confirmed: “It’s positive to see chief marketing officers, chief growth officers and chief communications officers in high demand. This is testament to the highly strategic and increasingly impactful role they play in building brand awareness, safeguarding reputation, and creating demand to drive growth.”

These findings, however, are offset against the latest The State of Marketing Budgets 2021 report from Gartner, which suggest marketing budgets have been slashed in the past year, falling from 11.0% of revenue in 2020 to just 6.4% in 2021.

‘The main responsibilities remain the same’
Robert Jay, CMO of Southbank Investment Research, an independent financial research firm, claims the main responsibilities remain the same, but the role is rebranded.

“CMO is the shortest tenure of any C suite role. So they are often in demand, but the role can be very broad and is found under other names including chief brand, communications or growth officer.

“The rise and fall of each has little to do with the job itself, which largely remains the same, but more a repositioning or repackaging of it. Which is rather apt and what makes  good marketers – the ability to transform a product through its story

“Marketing practises have gone through similar rebrands. The goal and techniques are similar, but the channel and tech has changed. What is now ABM was ‘Key Account Marketing’ when I started. Automation was personalisation.”

The aforementioned research from Gartner tells a similar story as marketing – like most industries – redefines itself post-Covid.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents claimed that work previously carried out by agencies moved in-house in the past 12 months, while big companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Taco Bell and Uber replaced the CMO function with other C-suite hires.

The pandemic also accelerated digital transformation, especially within B2B, with the MarTech sector now worth an estimated $344.8bn, and companies spending 23% of overall budget on improving their technology (State of MarTech Report, 2021).

As Jay concludes: “What has changed in my time is the need to understand the new channels and systems on offer and to work more closely with other areas.

“Product was an original from the 4 Ps of marketing but has rightly evolved into its own field. Technology is no longer just support, but essential to enabling marketers, improving offerings and how we reach, interact and protect customers.

“For me the main responsibilities remain the same. To strive for your customer and drive the business.”


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Invest not divest: CMO of Zoopla
Marketing budgets are notorious for being the first of the enterprise budgets to be cut and the last to be restored, and the pandemic has forced CMOs to prove that they could do more with less money.

This added to many companies investing heavily in technology and the diversification of the core CMO role, doesn’t necessarily herald the beginning of the end.

Gary Bramall, Zoopla’s CMO is positive about the future, with greater financing.

“The role of marketing has proved transformational over the past decade. Very few companies can now get ahead without the highest calibre of marketing expertise at the helm. And it’s a widely held belief that companies who divest in marketing in times of economic challenge, such as those brought about by the pandemic, quickly lose their stronghold.

But it’s not just about hiring the best possible CMO – it’s about investing in a business’s marketing function at all levels, bringing in diversity of talent, and shoring up the pipeline of future marketing leaders accordingly.”

Technology is key
The swift digitisation of both B2C and B2B marketing is changing the desired skillset of CMOs even today.

Penny Wilson is the CMO of digital consultancy firm Appnovation and formerly held that role in social media management platform Hootsuite.

“I started my career as a technologist rising through the ranks of the financial services industry to become a CIO. Then I took a gamble on a failing start-up at a time when marketing was pivoting to digital and it became a natural transition for me to lead both the operations and marketing side of the business. Many CMOs were not comfortable with technology and it gave me an instant advantage.

“The most significant change to the CMO role since I started has been the increase in digital channels and marketing technology. This has created opportunities that can immediately strengthen relationships with customers, prospects and partners and positively impact the bottom line.”

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