Prior to this crisis the role of the CMO was already seen as a relatively short term tenure, mainly because it was/is profoundly misunderstood by today's boardrooms.
So, does this crisis now set the scene for the C-Suite to let the experienced CMO get back to what they're supposed to do which is to focus on growth, innovation, and product development - not just being the head of the digital corporate bullhorn department, or as its known by the board 'marketing'?
If you don't believe me take a look at the LinkedIn job board and review the job descriptions for a CMO or eCommerce Director - most of them could be a copy/paste as they all match the same requirement which is to simply be able to direct, manage a budget, and execute ad tech campaigns.
So recruiters simply recruit based on a brief because if the board don't understand the role how can a recruiter?
Today we have many extremely bright and technically savvy people operating in this space who have learned their craft (probably in the same company) throughout the ad tech boom.
As such they genuinely believe that this is what the marketing function is for, so yes, it's just more of the same, they are essentially performing paid A/B ad testing tactics without an internally aligned brand, product/service growth strategy.
Here's an example I'm sure many of my fellow CMO's can relate to.
The seemingly mismatch between a board simply needing execution of an existing strategy (more of the same please) yet hiring for growth tends to be at the heart of the CMO turnstile.
Pre-Covid CMOs were required to focus on being customer-centric and data-driven while offering personalised strategies - and something that was/is led by the media buying agency, and the fraud ridden intrusive ad tech sector was their master and teacher.
As the role morphed into becoming the communications (company Bullhorn) department they were also being called on more to prove ROI on campaigns that for some reason excluded that 50% - 75% of every marketing ££$$ ad fraud audit.
If you're a CEO, VC, or involved in Private Equity the reason to hire a CMO is usually because you’ve got a big strategic problem to solve, you need to drive growth and become more innovative, or reposition the brand.
Well, that’s what the connotation should be in the CMO interview process.
What often happens in reality is ‘Deliver me a Q1 plan that drives growth of x%’.
The trap is that you’re hired for your thinking and strategy, but very quickly you discover what you are being asked to do is execute an existing sales and growth plan that prior to this pandemic was difficult enough but post Covid is nigh on impossible.
"Once, the marketing manager role encompassed research, strategic planning and the full suite of tactics to take a product to market. Today, we are increasingly the communications department. And little more". Marketing Week
So, does this crisis now set the scene for the C-Suite to let the CMO get back to what they're supposed to do which is to focus on growth, innovation, and product development - not just the corporate bullhorn?
If you’re a large established business with embedded practices, procedures, and the endless brand police sign offs, how on earth do you adopt 'agile marketing' and what exactly does that mean in today's digitally connected, tech savvy world?
Today, instead of being the marketing leaders that help identify the rationale for new markets and product development growth opportunities they are judged on how efficiently (pre Covid) they spent most of their time blowing large ad spend budgets and spewing corporate creative vomit to feed the fraud ridden ad-tech platform frenzy.
As the world of business looks to go back about it's business CEOs will no doubt be expecting CMOs to be the "magic bullet" that can revive sales, grow market share and continue to inspire customers.
These many and varied demands will no doubt be often impossible for CMOs to meet, especially with reduced resource and without the availability of the bloated advertising budget which will inevitably lead to increasingly shorter tenures as results become nigh on impossible to deliver against.
It seems that the return of a Chief plate spinning commercially focused Growth Officer with the ability to pull golden growth rabbits out of magic hats might be the undoing of the pre Covid CMO?
Everybody wants a brand that’s different. The irony of that statement is intentional. It belies the conservative manner in which most brands approach competitive difference. They say they want to be distinctive to consumers but often, in their heart of hearts, they actually want to align (read conform) with the rest of the industry. One of the key issues for that is an uncertainty on the part of brand makers and decision makers to find a starting point.