The Counterintuitive CEO

What CEOs Want From Their CMOs

April 21, 2011

What do CEOs want from Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs)? I asked that question on Forrester's CMO community site, triggering some excellent comments. You can check it all out here.

The CMO must provide the basics: “Increase revenue, decrease costs, no embarrassments.” But what about the non-obvious?

1) Innovation. CEOs know that innovation usually lies outside of the company — in the free market of partners, inventors, new channels, and new technologies. Procter & Gamble plays this game brilliantly — partnering with AstraZeneca on Prilosec OTC, Clorox on Glad Wrap Press'n Seal, and with its customers on the redesign of Tampax. The CEO wants the CMO scouting the path ahead — outside of the four walls of the corporation.
 
2) Mediate the cultural conversation. As Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines used to say, "Culture is what people do when no one is looking." Culture is the honest, unvarnished, beliefs and behavior of your customers and your employees. In an age of social, customer culture and undiluted company culture continually butt up against each other — producing ugly or amazingly productive moments. The CMO must moderate that raw conversation, protecting and elevating the brand as they do so.
 
3) Translate and illuminate technology. The CEO can’t keep up — the CMO must continually teach what technology change is brewing and what matters. "Here comes app Internet — what does it mean for us?"
 
4) Prove ROI. CEOs are suspicious of everyone’s value — especially marketing's. The CMO must either put hard dollar returns on what they are doing, or make a damn good case for the soft returns: “…blogging will increase our brand recognition by 10%.”
 
5) Take me out for a "beer talk." As Javier Martin, the CEO of Almira Labs, says: “Have long talks with me about markets, products, ideas, desirably together with beers and golf. Don’t be the odd-one-out/snobby/unique guy that nobody understands because he is so creative and ahead of the rest of mortals. That won’t be helpful.”
 
What am I missing? What do you think the CEO wants from the CMO? I'd love to get your thoughts.
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