“As a CMO, you get one shot, then you’re pushed out,” said Tony Pace, CMO at Subway.
The tenure of the average Chief Marketing Officer has been increasing, but it’s still the shortest tenure of any executive role. As recently at 2006, the average CMO lasted only 23 months. Starbucks replaced their head of marketing five times in seven years. Coca-Cola replaced theirs four times in six years. FedEx Kinko’s changed theirs three times in five years.
The average CEO lasts 8 years and the CFO lasts 10 years, but the CMO is out after 2-4 years. Why is there such a revolving door at the most senior marketing position?
One underlying factor is short-term thinking. Brand building doesn’t happen overnight and many marketing programs take time to incubate. Traditionally, it has been a challenge to prove the immediate ROI of many marketing programs. If CMOs don’t have a long enough runway, they can get pushed out before their initiatives bear fruit.
This can create a vicious circle, as each CMO change can give whiplash to the rest of the organization.
The good news is that CMO tenure, while low, is starting to rise and the role of the CMO is evolving. Analytics, technology, and mobile are all expanding the impact of marketing on a business. As CMOs embrace these new opportunities, their value in an organization will only increase.
Hopefully, over time, this will decrease the CMO Of The Month phenomenon.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the CMO role and tenure.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)