Make the CMO Position Successful. Five Secrets Revealed. - Walter Sabo

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Cover image for  article: Make the CMO Position Successful. Five Secrets Revealed. - Walter Sabo

The joke between CMO's is that their job has less tenure than a boy band. The Chief Marketing Officers I've met are wicked smart and highly effective idea-sellers. The reason CMO's are desperately challenged in holding on to their jobs is rooted in the nature of their lines of reporting.

Logically, they report to the CEO or COO. Problem: Today's CEO's and COO's "grew up" in companies without CMO's. The history of the CMO position is very recent. ("A short horizon" as the MBA's like to say on the squash courts.) The job was virtually unheard of a decade ago. Who handled their functions? The CEO or the COO.

William LaPorte for many years was the highest paid executive in America. He was CEO of American Home Products. Mr. LaPorte often wrote ad copy himself. He reviewed every ad and marketing plan and his approval was necessary to enact them. Corporations used to have ad agencies and "Promotion Directors."

Today's CEO's have no idea what to do with a Chief Marketing Officer. They were trained to handle the marketing functions. They do not instinctively know how to delegate those responsibilities because they have never witnessed it up close.

Advertising and marketing have now been placed under the CMO. What role should the CEO play in that dynamic? What you are about to read may seem like a rudimentary management exchange. After witnessing the CMO role turned into a mess by the largest companies it is apparent that these guidelines are rarely in place.

See if you think they make sense. I look forward to your comments.

1. The CEO should establish the goal oriented initiatives of the Marketing wing. Clearly state them for the CMO so there is no confusion for either of you.

2. Never take a phone call from the ad agency. Direct them to the CMO.

3. Tell everyone in the company exactly what the CMO does; they are confused.

4. There should be no dotted line reporting that is shared with CEO and CMO.

5. When the CMO gives a public appearance, they should acknowledge and thank the CEO by name---which I've never seen one do.

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