Why Customer Needs to Be at the Start of the CMO Job Description

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the recent industry articles published by Forrester and HBR suggesting that companies need to hire a chief growth officer or a chief customer officer.  Why? If you have an effective CMO you already have these roles covered. Marketing’s fundamental mission is to create value for customers and the business. Marketing creates, communicates, and delivers value to customers. It is Marketing’s job to capture and communicate the “value elements” of your organization and its offerings. Value elements are anything that affects the costs and benefits of your unique offer. It is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)/VP of Marketing who owns this mission.

The Why Behind the Emergence of Growth and Customer Officers

So why are these new roles emerging as potential replacements? I believe the cause can be found in how the role of the CMO or VP of Marketing is being defined.  It starts with the job description.  It my contention that the existing job descriptions for the CMO are off the mark. In reviewing typical job descriptions and responsibilities for the CMO/VP of Marketing, the notion of the customer has all but faded into the background.  Here are five examples of CMO job descriptions for very different industries listed on some of most common job posting sites:

  1. From Monster: “Develop and own the marketing strategy and execution across key channels including website, email, SEO, affiliate marketing, mobile apps, co-marketing, PR, web and mobile advertising, social and events to drive revenues, growth, enterprise sales, and university partner engagement.”
  2. On Ladders: “Evolve and enhance the brand message and marketing strategy. Define and solidify the company’s reputation as the category leader, further evangelize the value proposition, and develop market strategies. Build, manage and scale best-in-class, specialized marketing programs to achieve business objectives”.
  3. A description from the America’s Job Exchange: “Responsible for overseeing marketing initiatives within an organization. Works to develop areas such as sales management, product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications. Primary responsibilities include facilitating growth, sales, revenue generation, cost reduction, risk mitigate, market strategy preparation, implementation and management of the marketing budget, use of data and analytics to drive insights, and direct the efforts of the marketing team.”
  4. Glassdoor: “You will be a member of the firm’s executive team and manage the Marketing function. Your day-to-day activities will include developing quarterly marketing plans, optimizing live webinar processes, improving workflow and re-targeting campaigns, identifying industry trends, developing research processes, and integrating research findings into marketing activities.
  5. LinkedIn: “Handle the day-to-day marketing operations. As the CMO, you will have primary responsibility for developing, managing and implementing the message being delivered to targeted audiences in order to meet business and sales objectives. Your primary responsibilities will be to establish strategic marketing plans to achieve corporate objectives for products and services, develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans and programs to support sales and revenue objectives of the organization, research, analyze and monitor financial, technological, and demographic factors to capitalize on market opportunities, evaluate and recommend distribution channel development programs.

Bring the Word Customer Back to the CMO Job Description

Job descriptions from established recruiting organizations are similar. For example, from Paladin, “a CMO is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of an organization’s marketing and advertising initiatives. Reporting directly to the chief executive officer, the CMO’s primary responsibility is to generate revenue by increasing sales through successful marketing for the entire organization, using market research, pricing, product marketing, marketing communications, advertising and public relations.”

Almost all the job responsibilities for these positions were similar.  These were taken from Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Where’s the focus on customer acquisition, retention and growth?

  • Set and achieve strategic goals related to social media metrics, advertising and marketing campaign initiatives
  • Plans and oversees communication activities including print, online, electronic media and direct mail.
  • Design and improve upon marketing campaigns for each aspect of our company
  • Negotiate compensation and project details for outside contractors related to marketing and promotions
  • Create and propagate our brand message
  • Harness the power of PR and earned media and reinforce our thought leadership.
  • Ensure effective rollout of new products across the platform
  • Oversee the operations of the department
  • Guide the preparation of marketing activity reports and present performance progress to executive management
  • Lead by example

Focus the CMO Job Description on Creating Customer Value

Your company’s ability to thrive depends on value creation.  Rather than hiring another person to lead the value creation, growth or customer experience charge, perhaps it makes more sense to have the organization you’ve already invested in – Marketing– do the work it was intended to do. Of course, this may require a change in mind-set on everyone’s part.

Marketing is the only function within the organization to include the word “market.”  This intersection of where the company and customers interact falls within the domain of Marketing. Expect your Marketing organization to understand which customers to engage with, as well as their pain points, needs, and problems.  They should also understand how the company solves these issues and engages with customers, what to offer, for how much, where, and when.

An effective CMO enables the company to achieve its growth goals by collaborating with internal and external partners to develop strategies that create a sustainable competitive advantage and bring products to market that find, keep and grow the value of customers.

For those of you in the C-Suite, I hope this article prompts you rethink the role of the CMO in your organization.  The upstream part of Marketing is as important to your company as the downstream. Take Marketing beyond the tactical arm to implement programs to support Sales.  For those of you the role CMO or VP of Marketing, commit to being more than users of technology to produce lead-generation campaigns and enable Sales. Instead serve as key members of the business team, bring data-derived customer-centric insights to the table to support strategic decisions that drive growth, and develop and deploy strategies and processes that enable your company to more effectively and efficiently find, keep, and grow the value of profitable customers.  To be this kind of Marketing leaders takes aligning Marketing to the business not Sales and accepting accountability for moving the business needles. Your success depending on creating value for customer and collaborative alliances with finance, IT, Sales and other internal and external partners.

If growth and value creation are top of mind for your organization, then build a Marketing organization that will help you achieve these. This probably requires you to revisit the job description for your Marketing leader in two key areas.

First and foremost, the concept of finding, keeping, and growing the value of customers to drive sustainable growth serves as the cornerstone of the job description. Primary responsibilities such as understanding the company’s markets, segments, and customers would be at the top of the list.  Second, there would be more emphasis on upstream capabilities, such as conducting and interpreting market, customer, and competitive research to derive insights into how to engage customers and prospects throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Of course, still expect your Marketing team to develop compelling and relevant value propositions and the associated and supporting messaging in the context of the customer. Give the CMO the latitude to communicate the value at the right time through the right channel and the resources to tap experts. Remember, even the best athletes in the world rely on coaches.