I’ve drawn a number of cartoons over the years on the evolving Chief Marketing Officer role, which is partly a proxy for the ever-changing job of marketing in general.
Long gone are the days when CMOs were just in charge of “marketing comms” and marketing was dismissively described as “the coloring-in department.” Today’s Chief Marketing Officer role is almost impossibly deep and wide.
I spoke recently with a friend trying to recruit a CMO, and was struggling to find candidates with the right depth of experience in both brand marketing AND performance marketing. Let alone all the other hats a modern CMO is expected to wear.
Not only do many CMOs take the lead on every niche marketing channel or technology that emerges, their work requires broad alignment with every cross-functional department in the company. CMOs are held accountable for every aspect of customer experience, even if they don’t have actual authority for those areas.
And, as we hit the one year anniversary of ChatGPT, CMOs are often the tip of the spear in organizations figuring out how to approach Generative AI.
As Gartner VP Chris Ross put it recently:
“Being a CMO isn’t for the squeamish, but there may be no other role positioned to make nearly so great an impact.”
With such an expanding remit, the Chief Marketing Officer risks devolving into the Chief Something Officer — jack of all trades, master of none. This identity crisis has led to many of the semantic gymnastics some companies have pursued to rename the CMO position entirely — in favor of Chief Experience Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Revenue Office, Chief Growth Officer, etc.
No matter what you call it, I think that leaders stepping into the CMO role have to define what they do (and don’t do) with clarity and focus if they want to be successful.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: