The B2B CMO Role is Expanding: Evolve or Move On

July 25, 2013

By Laura Ramos

Digital channels, online social activity and rapidly evolving mobile technology give business buyers new purchasing power. B2B CMOs must take on significantly broader and often unfamiliar responsibilities to capture their attention.

To learn how top marketers respond to these new challenges, Forrester Research teamed with the Business Marketing Association to conduct a joint study. We looked at the pace of change, the skills required and the degree of collaboration needed to deliver the always-on experiences that business buyers now expect.

BMA Chair Kathy Button Bell and I presented the findings from this study of 117 marketing leaders during the BLAZE conference last May. Forrester recently published a report that takes a closer look at the expanding role of the B2B CMO. We would like to share it with the entire BMA membership.

The report shows that it has never been a better time to be a B2B marketer. Almost 90% of respondents say peer executives now turn to them more often for data and strategic insight. Almost 80% agree that marketing’s influence on corporate strategy is greater today than just two years ago.

These rising expectations require an evolving skill set and a higher degree of cross-department teamwork. Almost all respondents feel that the breadth of skills needed to succeed has increased dramatically. And 44% say that they can't find the right combination of people and skills in the job market. To fill the gap, 60% say they seek out younger workers with greater technical comfort.

The report contains many other valuable insights. B2B CMOs can evolve from a walk-on role to become headliners in the executive show when they adopt new job mandates and work smarter.

Keep an eye on strategy, not tactics.  Effective CMOs become more accountable when they adopt objectives linked directly to overall business goals. Focus on elements such as customer acquisition, retention, market share and account penetration.

Collaborate with peers to obsess over customers. Marketing executives deepen customer engagement when they coordinate input across the enterprise. Identify gaps in sales, purchase and support experiences.

Delegate effectively. Top chief marketers prioritize their calendars based on three factors: strategic importance, customer value and long-term brand health. Give other tasks to someone else.

This research shows us that CMOs who improve their team's agility and simplify peer-working relationships enjoy more executive confidence. They move on to greater corporate leadership opportunities. The key to this transition is the CMO's ability to span organizational silos and enhance their knowledge of and engagement with customers.

Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, serves chief marketing officers. She is a leading expert in business-to-business marketing with senior management experience in corporate, industry and product marketing, demand management and social media. View her Forrester research, read her blog or follow her on Twitter at @lauraramos.


"The B2B CMO Role is Expanding: Evolve or Move On." Laura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. BMA Buzz. 7/25/13.