CMOs feel pressure. They want their roles to be more strategic and at the same time, they are faced with an increasing number of changes in the marketplace from the expectations of customers to the impact of technology. So, how can CMOs evolve and help themselves to meet these demands and advance their own careers?

As an analyst for Forrester’s CMO Group, I was curious about the answer. Turns out, so were many CMOs! So, my colleague, Meagan Wilson, and I partnered with Heidrick & Struggles to conduct research and survey over 130 chief marketers to understand what it takes to become the evolved CMO.

A few highlights from the research:

  • CMOs believe leadership competencies are most important to their success with the top 5 being visioning and strategic thinking, people management and team development, relationship building with executive peers, business acumen, and energy and inspiration.
  • CMOs don’t spend enough time on their own career development, with just under 10% of time devoted to the CMO’s own professional growth. However, with career aspirations of becoming the CMO of a larger organization or CEO, CMOs recognize the need to further hone skills in relationship building with executive peers, technology savviness, and personal knowledge of customers.
  • CMOs want to be more involved in business strategy development and have greater P&L responsibilities; however, CMOs need to earn this by being pro-active in showing value throughout the organization. A key mechanism for doing this: leading the charge to customer-centricity. Marketers have the opportunity to leverage and share their knowledge and expertise about their customers and the marketplace to ensure the business strategy aligns to customer needs. To take advantage of this opportunity, CMOs are interested in further education in areas such as Web 2.0/Social Computing and customer-driven design techniques to engage with their customers as well as CRM and customer analytics to drive better insights and more relevant interactions.

CMOs are now in the driver’s seat. If armed with a full understanding of customers and how that relates to the rest of the business, CMOs can reach their career aspirations. In the report, Jane Stevenson, the CMO practice leader at Heidrick & Struggles, shares "If you get a group of CMOs in one room, the ones that have evolved stick out like a sore thumb. They talk about the business like a business owner. They articulate things, not in a technical perspective, but in a holistic, business perspective. Innately, people gravitate to them. They are business leaders."

While normally the research that we write for the CMO Group is not publicly available, you can access this research and start on the path towards becoming an evolved CMO by clicking here. (registration required)