The CMO Within Reach
According to countless industry reports, including press coverage in Forbes and consulting reports by McKinsey & Company (to name a few), the glory days of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) are over. Okay, I get what they're saying -- that the shareholder pressures of large corporations have demanded that all executives have to contribute in ways beyond just strategy and broaden their roles to be more impactful. Noted.
However, as with so many topics covered in the media, this notion cannot be oversimplified.
First, the "CMO" from the days of Mad Men rarely still exist in any company. Most CMOs today understand that they need to be intimately connected to the brands they support, and that they need to role up their sleeves and delve into the actual work of marketing. These are the same pressures that have eliminated the "Typist" or "Switchboard Operator" role in many office settings over the years.
Second, without a strategic leader, a marketing team can be a bit chaotic with all the "creativity" and egos colliding into a potential disaster. There are so many "specialties" in marketing now that it's almost comical -- probably thanks to many authors and professors who coined new terms and functions that otherwise would have been done by a marketing generalist. Despite what is taught in many classrooms today, marketing is not a science. You read that correctly. Most business and marketing degrees are B.A.s and not B.S.s for a reason. That does not diminish the value by any means, it just means it is not a science. A good marketer or CMO is one that has practical, pragmatic skills based in experience, common sense, and analysis. There's a lot of trial and error in the world of marketing, but much can be learned from taking note of what works over time.
Which brings me to my third and final point. As one of my favorite marketing professors taught me, "Everyone, almost all the time, is almost always wrong." Yes, I know it is not grammatical, but it's good advice nonetheless. Just because Forbes and McKinsey think the role of the CMO is dated, does not mean it is. That could also apply to my post, but I doubt it.
At CMO Within Reach, our name is a reference to our philosophy. A CMO should not be locked away in his/her conference room making "marketing" decision in a vacuum. A CMO should be within reach -- in touch with the real world, the product, the brand. They should be in touch with the SEO guy, the research team, the design gal, and the advertising dude. They should know how to do their jobs while providing data-driven, experiential guidance and strategy. A CMO like that is invaluable. If you're looking for one, let us know.