The failure of CMO leadership

KEY THOUGHTS: The CMO Council has published a report based on a survey of marketing executives, and it clearly shows why there is so much bad marketing out there. Instead of getting their names in trade magazines, perhaps they should be fostering a culture of learning and retaining talented people.

Paula, by all accounts, was rocking the house at her job as a senior product manager. Her CPG company promoted her to Group Product Manager and gave her 4 direct reports. She was a great teacher, and her staff loved working for her in employee feedback. After a year in the position, she was recruited by for a similar position. The job paid 25% more, allowed her to work from home whenever she wanted and offered other perks. Rather than matching the offer, her employer let her leave without a counteroffer. Shortly afterward, two of her direct reports resigned, leaving the CMO with a huge gap that led to a decline in sales. Why would any company, or CMO, allow this to happen?

According to the report, “an overwhelming 86% of senior marketers believe lack of leadership depth and capabilities has resulted in missed revenue, growth and customer acquisition opportunities”. I would ask, “what leadership and where?”. You’re the senior marketing person in the company, and part of your job is to lead and manage upwards. One of the reasons why there has been a lack of leadership is because too many CMOs aren’t held accountable for their marketing and leadership failures.

Here’ another key finding that puzzles me “one-third of senior marketers surveyed in early 2021 admit lack of resources, capabilities and effective leadership in key functional areas “consistently” impair performance of their team; over half concede this is an “intermittent” problem. Let’s be real here; one of the reasons for the lack of leadership is that your good people are leaving, and your company allows them to take all their years of expertise to a competitor. .”

HR is also to blame for antiquated recruiting processes. “Most senior marketers say they are challenged by the time it takes to properly recruit and onboard senior functional leaders on their team. More than half of survey respondents say the process takes three to six months, and another 15% indicate this can take more than six months”. How many companies are ready to roll out a great offer to a candidate that blows them away in interviews? Virtually none. HR has become part of the problem and continues to slow down the recruiting process.

One of the key areas of responsibility for any CMO is holding on to talented people. THAT is part of being a leader. Let me also be clear about something I really believe. Technology is not going to help you become a better marketer. Technology will surround you with all kinds of data, but data doesn’t help you become a better brand with your customers.

Now to be fair, some business executives and functions are sometimes jealous of marketing. They see marketing as an expense and don’t understand the value. Part of the problem is caused by CMOS, who love the glamor of marketing and want to be interviewed in business magazines where authors often don’t ask for proof of results. Again, this is a failure in leadership.

Leadership can’t be learned from a book or by going to seminars. Leadership comes by doing, watching, and learning. The number of people who are willing to change jobs has increased in recent years, and as they say, “people don’t leave companies they leave bad managers.”

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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