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The 21st Century CMO and the Future Of Marketing

The role that marketing plays in a company has evolved significantly in recent years, and has led to a significant shift in the role of the chief marketing officer as well. In fact, according to a recent Forrester report, 88% of organizations agree that the CMO’s position has drastically transformed over the last several years. Let’s look at why the role of a CMO is crucial today and what to look for in order to hire a “future-proof” CMO.

Why do you need a CMO?

The role of a modern CMO is crucial to increasing a business’s overall revenue. Here’s why:

  • A CMO plays a pivotal role in creating and managing a plan to achieve sustainable and profitable growth.
  • A CMO takes care of your company’s customer-centricity, which leads to measurable business results.
  • A CMO is your chief storyteller, focusing on creating a narrative that keeps your customers engaged.
  • A CMO designs breakthrough offerings for customers and harmonizes marketing and branding activities.
  • A CMO develops technology fluency, digital expertise, and data analytics to ensure the company can compete in the future.

How to find a CMO that will grow with your company and help the company grow, too

It’s vital to hire a top-notch CMO that will grow with the company. His or her skills and vision must match the need of your business. Some core competencies and characteristics of the 21st century CMO include being:

  • A Great Communicator — and a marketer who understands and values the importance of communications
  • Agile — the ability to develop creative solutions and adapt quickly
  • Collaborative — a great partner across every function of the business
  • Customer-focused — truly understanding and passionate about the customer, the customer journey and the customer experience and how to continuously improve it
  • Data-driven — excellent at cutting through the data and analyzing its importance
  • Tech-savvy — in today’s cloud and SaaS-based environment, in many organizations the CMO spends more on technology than the CIO.

In addition, here are some points to consider if you want to ensure your CMO can stand the test of time:

A CMO must not only lead but also be a great a team player.

An article from SpencerStuart mentions the importance of having the mindset of a servant leader. A great CMO sets a clear vision for the company and the marketing team, helps define each team member’s role and guarantee everyone is working toward the same goal. However, a great CMO also cultivates a culture of mutual respect, leading by example and holding him or herself to the same level of accountability as the rest of the team. An excellent leader and team player is valuable no matter how technology or marketing trends change. This kind of CMO will take your company into the future.

A CMO must be empowered and have a seat at the table.

Don’t underestimate top management’s role in supporting a competent, long-term CMO. CMOs often don’t stay because of the inconsistency between their competency and what they’re actually allowed to do in the company. This inevitably results in a lack of authority to effect real change and drive results. No level of talent can help a company that has existing barriers to a CMO’s success. So, instead of limiting your marketing team’s involvement, give them a voice in important decisions. If you want a CMO that effectively communicates and encourages teamwork, you must do the same. Empower your CMO to do the job.

A CMO must know how to build brand trust.

Brand trust and perception are more important now than ever before. Your company needs a competent chief marketer that builds lasting relationships with customers. Great CMOs focus on customer experience, loyalty and engagement.

Key Takeaway

The complexity of a CMO’s role will continue to evolve. Search out and support these critical qualities in your CMO. One employee can’t ensure the success of all. But a trusted CMO that embodies these qualities and leads by example can help ensure that your business stands the test of time.


Aria Williams

Aria Williams is a guest contributor who writes about business, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Aria also contributes to

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