What is a Chief Marketing Officer?

A Chief Marketing Officer — or CMO — is the person in charge of a company’s marketing plan. They are both a visionary and an executor, working to build awareness of a brand and attract new business. A CMO decides the tactics and strategy for how, when and where to do this. As the world becomes more globalized, and the internet connects consumers with companies across the world, the CMO has become even more important. Don’t mistake a CMO with their CEO, CFO and COO counterparts. You’ll find the CMO at the helm of the marketing department with a vision to bring the company into the spotlight.

How a Chief Marketing Officer works

  1. They are a marketing genius

    It seems obvious, but an effective Chief Marketing Officer has to be brilliant at what they're hired for-- marketing. Right now, companies seem to be appointing more and more C-blank-O's. It seems like they are generic positions that just promise a spot at the important-people table. But a smart and successful company will hire a CMO that can do the job; A CMO that creates a vision for the marketing plan, and knows how to execute it to bring awareness and new business. A CMO is the marketing guru and magician, and knows how to spread the word about their company's product and brand.

  2. They are results-driven

    A CMO must create a marketing plan that is backed up by data. A good CMO sets measurable goals for all marketing endeavors -- from one-day events to overarching marketing campaigns. This allows the company and the team to measure success of each effort and make adjustments as needed. In some cases, marketing operations are difficult to measure. As discussed above, CMOs are creative and visionaries. Sometimes this results in experimental or unusual strategies. In these cases, a CMO must be able to effectively convey the importance and value of the strategy to other company leaders and employees. The CMO must not be afraid to be held responsible and explain their strategies internally.

  3. They are aware of the bottom line

    The company's bottom line is always part of the equation, for any company leader. For the Chief Marketing Officer, this means being aware of how marketing plans affect the company's financial state. A CMO's operations must remain financially within the company's means, and provide positive revenue on the back-end. Marketing teams are being increasingly asked to prove that their services generate revenue, and ensure that what the team is taking is not significantly more than what they are making for the company. Chief Marketing Officers are ultimately responsible for this, as the leaders of the marketing segment of the company.

Why a Chief Marketing Officer Matters

  1. They are a company leader

    The CMO is at the top of a company's food chain. They have a seat at the table with the CEO, CFO and COO and have the power to influence major company decisions. The CMO makes decisions that directly impacts their company's bottom line and success. Because of this, the CMO is responsible for being aware of the state of the company and making decisions with that in mind. The Chief Marketing Office is ultimately one of few responsible for keeping a company successful and at the forefront of its industry, which means they are responsible for making marketing decisions in the context of the company as a whole.

  2. They are a communicator

    The CMO is specifically tasked with being the visionary for a company's marketing plan, and expressing that identity across the company and across the industry. The CMO is distributing messages across channels to targeted audiences, whether consumer or employees, to meet objectives of all kinds. In many cases, this means the CMO must step outside of marking into other areas, such as product development, messaging production, mobile platforms and new business ventures. Ultimately, the Chief Marketing Officer is being proactive to communicate the company's plan in all kinds of ways, and will all kinds of people and entities.

  3. They impact a company's bottom line

    Marketing departments can be expensive. In the past, many were given the leeway to throw money at expensive ad creation and placement. Now, they are becoming increasingly more responsible for protecting a company's bottom line. Modern CMOs will ensure their campaigns are financially responsible and revenue-driven, to ensure the company gets return on its marketing investment. They are in charge of keeping a talented team that works hard to provide results. The bottom line drives the CMO just as it does the CFO.