The DNA of a Modern CMO

“As the roles of marketing and the chief marketer expand, it will become critical for CEOs to ensure that they have the right person as CMO, to understand fully how customers are changing, and to become more involved in developing new marketing capabilities across the company.”

That’s David Court, writing for McKinsey Quartley, in an article published over 10 years ago. Sound familiar? That same sentence could belong to the latest trend piece published in Forbes, Inc., Ad Age, Fast Company. The idea of digital transformation isn’t new, but as marketing needs have evolved, so, too, have the people in charge of them.

In March 2018, the consulting firm Spencer Stuart revealed some good news for CMOs: The average tenure for the position had increased from 42 months to 44 months. The stat marks a reversal over years past, when CMO turnover had led to shorter stints. The number hasn’t been this high since 2015.

What’s caused the gradual upturn? It’s tough to pin it all on one variable, but as brands have prioritized the customer experience, digital transformation, and data-driven marketing, CMOs have had to become five-tool players to survive and eventually thrive. That means developing fluency with everything from writing and design to analytics and customer success. According to Gartner, 62 percent of brands report that all digital commerce now rolls up to the CMO.

However, this evolution is still far from complete. CMOs still have the shortest average tenure among C-suite employees, per Korn Ferry, an advisory firm. CEOs and founders often bring in CMOs to take care of pressing business problems, which gives them little incentive to the play the long game. For these marketing leaders to stick around long enough and implement their full visions, they have to push back against that pressure and develop strategies that set the business up for success instead of just fixing a current issue.

Contently collaborated with illustrator Beci Orpin an original infographic about the traits and skills many of today’s marketing leader’s possess. Check out the full graphic below to learn more about the modern CMO.


Image by

Beci Orpin/The Jacky Winter Group






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