Two-thirds of chief marketing officers (CMOs) want more involvement in business strategy development and increased profit and loss responsibility, according to a joint study conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) and Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.(Nasdaq: HSII). The survey of more than 130 chief and senior marketers from companies with revenues greater than $100 million revealed that marketing leaders are still fighting to increase their involvement beyond that of traditional marketing to gain greater influence within their organizations. The study by Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles, entitled “The Evolved CMO,” is a blueprint for marketing executives to do just that.
The survey indicated a disconnect between the career aspirations of marketing leaders and how they spend their time. When asked which competencies are the most important to their personal success, 82 percent of chief marketers identified strategic thinking as a top imperative. Other leadership-driven competencies such as people management/team development, relationship building with the senior executive team, business acumen, and energy and inspiration completed the top five. However, CMOs reported spending less than 10 percent of their time on career development.
“CMOs have a great opportunity to transform their marketing teams from order-takers to collaborators, but it takes more than harnessing available opportunities to win credibility — it takes diligent self-development,” said Cindy Commander, analyst with Forrester Research’s CMO Group, an executive-level peer knowledge and networking community for chief and senior marketers. “If CMOs want to become true business leaders, it’s time for them to step up to the plate and proactively evolve their role.”
One way CMOs can forge a business partnership with key stakeholders in the organization is by creating brands and offerings that are highly relevant to customers, therefore helping the company acquire new customers, drive stronger customer loyalty, improve retention, and enable bottom-line growth. However, according to the survey, one-quarter of CMOs are not involved in any way with customer service and support, distancing marketing from what customers are saying in the field. In addition, less than half of CMOs identified being the voice of the customer a top priority for their personal success, with even fewer identifying listening to/interacting with customers, and personal knowledge of customers as crucial to their jobs.
“CMOs who can acutely tap into customer needs and evangelize them throughout the organization will be able to drive growth and strategy for the business,” said Jane Stevenson, Global Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles’ CMO Practice. “At the end of the day, an evolved CMO is an enduring business leader, a strategy-driving, influence-wielding executive with a finger on the pulse of the organization and the customer.”
Full analysis of the survey, which includes key recommendations for CMOs working to advance their roles, can be found in the report, “The Evolved CMO.” Complimentary copies of the report are available for download at www.forrester.com/evolvedcmo.