Two Stats Highlight the Great Disconnect Between a CEO and CMO


Not long ago somebody emailed me a link to a story entitled “Most Have No Idea How Much Of A Runway They Have,” How CEOs Really See The CMO. When I saw the title I immediately thought to myself ‘wow, this is great, maybe CEOs really do value their CMOs.’ The author even started the piece off with this uplifting declaration: “There has never been a better time to be a marketer…”

If only I had stopped reading after those 11 words, everything would be peachy keen, jellybean. However, as the writer astutely pointed out… well see for yourself.

This is the FULL first line of the article:

There has never been a better time to be a marketer, but as a new study from McKinsey shows, CMOs and CEOs need to become a lot better at communicating ideas, collaborating and explaining the value of their work.”

However, based on two of the results of the most recent CMO Survey done by the Duke Fuqua School of Business (February 2019). it would appear there are other issues at play when it comes to reaching that whole “never been a better time to be a marketer” state.

The CMO Survey, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Feb 2019

Let’s break this down one side at a time starting with the left.

The CMO Survey, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Feb 2019

Earlier this year I penned CMO Turnover Highest In C-Suite But The Reasons Why May Surprise You. In that piece I referenced a quote from Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of Cision who said: “Most CEOs don’t fully understand marketing and so they aren’t really qualified to ask the right questions and find the right candidate.”

Now, add that to what a former CMO told me about why he left his role: “It boils down to a simple principle that everyone believes they’re a marketer. When the CMO and CEO (or the rest of the executive team) aren’t aligned, it can mean disharmony for all. The reality is many CEOs often have not held senior marketing roles prior, and for this dynamic to work, having a deep rooted foundation based on shared values, mutual respect, and empathy are crucial for all to be successful.”

I don’t know what the solution is. Perhaps if more CMOs were to become CEOs?

Um… not likely.

The CMO Survey, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Feb 2019

Nearly two-thirds say either unlikely or never when it comes to a CMO making it to CEO. Ouch.

To me this ALL goes back to the pervasive and collective thought among far too many CEOs and that this is they simply ‘don’t get it’ when it comes to marketing. And yes it truly is that simple. I am not suggesting every company needs to make their CMO their CEO.

Not at all.

What I am suggesting is CEOs come out of the dark ages when it comes to marketing. This is not the ‘good old days’ when marketers would do their little campaigns and their cute advertising but generally have no say in how the company, AKA the brand itself, is run.

And therein lies the rub. Who knows more about a given brand — what it makes it tick, the equity it holds and the value thereof, the culture behind the brand and on and on  — than a CMO?

And you Mr. and Mrs. CEO want to continue to relegate them to the kids table?

Well you do so at your own peril.

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