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Empowering CMOs: Overcoming Challenges and Building Personal Brands

By Michael Berberich

In an episode of the ANA Marketing Futures podcast, Katie Klumper, the founder and CEO of Black Glass Consulting, discussed the challenges faced by chief marketing officers (CMOs) and the importance of empowering them to claim their rightful place within organizations. Klumper highlighted the need for CMOs to navigate the evolving landscape of marketing leadership and develop a new skill set to drive growth and succeed as individuals.

Klumper acknowledged that the average tenure of CMOs has been shrinking, but she emphasized that it's a nuanced issue. Some CMOs experience shorter tenures due to their success in transitioning to general management or president roles within organizations. However, the role of a CMO remains complex, with three common challenges identified:

1. Representation: Despite being closest to consumers, CMOs often struggle to secure a seat at the executive table or gain marketing representation on corporate boards. Increasing the profile of marketing and consumer representation at the C-suite is crucial.

2. Relationships: Traditionally, CMOs focused on changing agencies when facing challenges. The new playbook involves building strong internal relationships within the organization, especially with other C-suite members, to drive impactful outcomes.

3. Results: Balancing short-term results with long-term vision is critical for CMOs. While establishing a three-to-five-year vision is important, executing 90-day sprints allows for immediate impact and scalability.

Klumper also discussed the ongoing debate around CMOs' personal branding and its relationship with the corporate brand. While it varies depending on the brand and the CMO, establishing a personal brand can increase the marketer's profile, attract top talent, and align personal values with the brand's values. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and some brands prefer to prioritize the corporate brand over personal branding.

To bridge the gap between CMOs and the rest of the C-suite, Klumper suggested that CMOs should inquire about the role of marketing and the customer within the organization during the interview process. Prioritizing the customer and leveraging marketing to understand their needs, values, and disruptions can help CMOs gain support from other C-suite executives. This collaboration can facilitate a better balance between customer-centricity and corporate goals.

CMOs can achieve a balance between short-term wins and long-term strategy by establishing a three-to-five-year vision and executing it through agile methodologies. Implementing 90-day sprints allows for immediate results and showcases the impact of marketing initiatives to the rest of the C-suite.

CMOs face unique challenges in a rapidly changing marketing landscape. By addressing issues related to representation, building strong internal relationships, and balancing short-term wins with long-term vision, CMOs can solidify their position within organizations. Additionally, personal branding can be a strategic tool for CMOs to align their values with the brand and attract top talent. By fostering collaboration and prioritizing the customer, CMOs can bridge the gap with the rest of the C-suite and drive organizational success in today's marketing landscape.

Click here to listen to the full episode.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Michael Berberich is a senior director of content and marketing at ANA.

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