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Why CMOs get fired and how you can keep your job

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Presented by BrightFunnel


You are a newly appointed CMO and can’t wait to roll up your sleeves to start transforming the business. You get your new gig, pop that champagne, and get ready to start running marketing programs that make it rain more than Fat Joe and Lil Wayne.

But being a marketing leader in today’s business climate is harder than being a hustla’s hustla. In fact, new statistics around the CMO tenure might make you more than a little hesitant to roll up to the nearest Porsche dealership and put some down some cash on that brand-new whip. According to a recent Accenture report, 37 percent of CEOs will put the CMO first in the firing line if growth targets are not met. That is a significant (and scary) statistic.

So why are CMO’s the first in the line of fire before all other roles in the C-Suite when the business goals aren’t being hit? It seems unfair, doesn’t it, since marketing is not responsible for actually closing deals? I mean, isn’t that sales’ job? Well, not anymore.

The new role of marketing

The discipline of marketing is one of the fastest changing roles in business today. Each new technology advancement, mode of communication, or purchasing behavior paves the way for a massive influx of data. However, where many marketing leaders and teams fall short is turning that data into insight that helps to refine the sales process and drive business outcomes.

Long gone are the days when a CMO would get a pat on the back for posting an eye-catching billboard on the largest stretch of commuting highway in your area. Today, the CMO is not only asked to keep up the pace with creative innovation, but she is also asked to ensure that every marketing decision is measurable and ties back to business outcomes — like pipeline and revenue. In fact, according to another recent report published by Forrester Research, CEOs will fire their CMOs for “not mustering the blended skill set they need to personally pull off digital business transformation.” Today’s CMO must “develop their art and science acumen to survive.”

This means, the CMO with the most longevity is fluent in both languages — creativity of brand innovation and an analytical approach to making decisions.

Turning an art into a science

Yes, it seems unfair to put business transformation solely in the hands of the CMO. However, it is the CMO that has the most access to the key commodities that make up an organization — budget, customer data, sales data, and technology. It is also your CMO that has access to many of the creative minds in the business — design, content, brand, and more. These are the building blocks for driving true business transformation — marrying the creative and analytical aspects of marketing to turn your customer’s buyer journey into a science.

The key to turning the CMO fate into a more positive storyline — one that includes making it rain for your business (and that new fancy car) — is the ability to turn data into insights and action. The Accenture report discusses the CMO as the primary driver of disruptive growth. In other words, the CMO is responsible for “developing relationships with non-traditional players, launching platforms that expand current products, and increasing revenue through next-generation data approaches”. A CMO today needs to harness and develop a point-of-view on that data, to not only provide innovative ways to approach the buyer journey, but to also show marketing’s impact on revenue.

Ensure your CMO tenure

To understand and analyze the buyer journey, a CMO needs to have both an understanding of the decision team that makes up a prospect account and the marketing activities that have been effective in moving those decision-makers and influencers through the sales funnel from initial inquiry, to opportunity, and finally to closed deal.

By leveraging marketing attribution technology that looks at every touchpoint in the buyer journey, marketing leaders can be in a much better position to understand how to innovate on that journey. Having control and definitive knowledge on what works and what doesn’t work positions the CMO as the one holding the key to the kingdom.

CMO’s must be the catalyst to change within the organization and become indispensable through leveraging data to prove out business impact and drive innovation.

To learn more about how to leverage marketing attribution and BrightFunnel, download our ebook The Definitive Guide to Multi-Touch Attribution.


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