What does a CMO – Chief Marketing Officer – do?


The chief marketing officer is a corporate executive, who is responsible for overseeing an organization’s marketing activities. In other words, a CMO is a person who creates, communicates, and delivers value to its targeted customers, investors, business partners, and other stakeholders along with the C-Suite. Here’s a glimpse into what’s involved if you want to become the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of your organization.

What is CMO or Chief Marketing Officer?

The end goal of every business activity is to sell its products and turn a profit. One way of doing this is through marketing. The CMO sits with the C-Suite and designs strategies to generate awareness about the business and its products, attract new customers, and retain the loyalty of existing ones to drive sales and generate revenue. Marketing is a core task of every organization and with a good and sound marketing strategy, the business can enhance its revenue and increase return on investment. It is thus the responsibility of the CMO assisted by VPs and his staff to ensure that the general public and the consumers within the industry or market segment are not only aware of the products of the company but also are encouraged to select and purchase these products over those of competitors.

What are the requirements to be a Chief Marketing Officer? 

How can you become a CMO or what are the qualifications you need to be a CMO? Well, to reach the pinnacle of your marketing – to become a CMO – it is desirable to have a marketing focussed degree or qualification such as Bachelor’s in Marketing, BA with honors in journalism or marketing, MMM (Masters in Marketing Management), or similar qualification depending upon your location, institute, and course. For instance, you might study business administration and then do a certificate course in marketing management or digital marketing to supplement your knowledge. You might study public relations, data analysis, or business communication, or mass communication, with an additional diploma in marketing management and so on. In short, your qualification should give you knowledge about general marketing and communication trends, practices, and channels.

Apart from that though, an aptitude for out-of-the-box thinking, a strategic outlook, and leadership and communication skills will stand you in good stead. Of course, you cannot jump to the post of CMO straight out of college. It requires some experience before you can take on the responsibility of marketing for the entire organization. With that point of view, this is how most job descriptions or requirements for CMO read so that’s what you should be aiming for. Of course, most CMOs are hired internally by promoting VPs or through mentorship – and this is true of the entire C-Suite. Still, it is possible an external CMO may be hired on occasion so here goes:

  • At least 5 years of industry experience
  • Demonstrated skills and knowledge about marketing principles, branding, product management, and other marketing verticals
  • Understanding of market research and analysis
  • Understanding of market and marketing trends as well as industry trends
  • An out-of-the-box thinker with great interpersonal and communication skills and a dynamic personality

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a CMO?

As we said, the ultimate goal of any marketing activity is to drive sales and boost revenue. However, from the circus spiel to digital marketing, things have changed and so has the way products are marketed. Any marketing executive today must have an understanding of digital and offline marketing channels as well as what’s trending in each direction. Not only must you as a CMO ensure that your products are targeted to the right audience but you must do it within the budget allocated to you. As well, you must ensure that your staff functions efficiently, your teams grow and learn and there is no discord within your department. You should also have an understanding of the industry within which you operate. For instance, marketing a pharmaceutical product is radically different from the way you would market a travel agency or a food product. Your target audience is different and so are the marketing channels. So, as the CMO of almost any organization you would usually wear at least five hats:

Growth Driver

As CMO it is your responsibility to drive profitable and sustainable organizational growth. To do this you must build a relationship with his target audience – your potential consumers – so that they become loyal customers who will buy your product every time. You can do this by engaging your audience through various means such as blogs, social media, and other channels. You will also need to create a marketing strategy for the long term and work within the budget allocated by the CFO.

Know the roles and responsibilities of a CFO

Growth is not limited to organizational growth. As a CMO it is also your responsibility to ensure that those working within your team or department grow as individuals as well. This means you’ll be responsible for their career path, promotion, and so on.

Customer Champion

Not only do you need to ensure that your team engages with consumers to drive growth, but you must also ensure that the consumers get value not just from the product itself but also from the marketing efforts of your team. It is your responsibility to ensure that every interaction the consumer has with your organization and its brands is a pleasant experience. You must create opportunities for his consumers to reach out to your brand and gain from the interaction. To do this you would leverage tools like social media marketing, influencer marketing, and consumer surveys to understand consumer needs and fulfill them.

Of course in these days of digitization, a lot of this communication happens online so you can solicit help from the CITO and his team.

Who is a CITO and What does he do?

Capability Builder

Capability building refers not just to the organizational capability though that is an important part of your duties as a CMO or Chief Marketing Officer. It is also your responsibility to build the capability or capacity of your team and employees working under you.

As far as organizational capacity goes, you must identify new market trends and make suggestions to the production department so that they can meet the consumers’ needs. You’ll thus need to conduct periodic market surveys, consumer surveys, and other campaigns to measure the pulse of the market. Such endeavors will reveal what your consumers really want from you and what your competition is providing. You can then advise production about the trends so that they can do their bit in meeting these demands.

Another aspect of capacity building is enhancing the capabilities and efficiency of your team or department. This you will do by identifying individuals for training, upskilling, and promotion. You will do this in consultation with the CHRO or Chief Human Resources Officer of your organization.

What does a CHRO do?

Innovation Catalyst  

As we mentioned, it is your responsibility to keep a finger on the market pulse and understand the market landscape within your industry. You must go beyond the routine and instinctively sense future demands. For instance, when the buzz for the lockdown first began, smartphone and computer companies anticipated higher demand for digital products. Accordingly, they tweaked their pricing, made combo offers, and adopted other strategies to increase sales. When such opportunities come knocking, you should be able to adjust and leverage the situation to your organization’s advantage. You’ll work closely with your COO (Chief Operations Officer) to understand how best you can adapt to the situation and still stay within budget. On occasion, you may even be required to take a leap and go beyond budget or tradition.

Storyteller and Influencer

A CMO must drive sales. If you are the CMO of your organization it is your responsibility to see that your marketing efforts serve to influence the buying decision of your consumer. One way to do this is to tell the consumer your brand story and endear him to the brand. Storytelling helps shape your brand campaign and brings consistency to your brand. Not only must you be telling this story on social media and other online platforms, but the story must also become an integral part of your organizational culture. It is your responsibility to see that your employees – and those from other departments – carry this story with them wherever they go.

As CMO you’ll not only be managing the marketing department of your organization but also you’ll work closely with almost every other organization.

Marketing Department Hierarchy

At the lowest level in any marketing department is what you may call the “marketing assistant.” This may be anyone from a content writer to a social media manager to a creative designer. Some organizations outsource these tasks to agencies which reduce the number of individuals working in the marketing department. Depending upon the policy within your organization you may have the following designations or posts working within your team if you are the CMO:

  • Marketing Director – There may be more than one if your organization is large. One for each vertical such as digital marketing, outdoor advertising, content marketing, and so on.
  • Vice-President Marketing – if your organization is not-so-large, the above departments or subdivisions of marketing may be seen at the level of VP with one VP handling each function of marketing.
  • Marketing Manager – VPs are usually assisted by Marketing Managers who handle the various functions within a subdivision. For instance, a VP (Digital Marketing) may be assisted by an MM (content), MM (design), MM (packaging), and so on.
  • Assistant Manager Marketing
  • Marketing Executive / Assistant

The last two designations are operational level posts and most likely the level at which you may first enter the organization.

CTC of a CMO

The C-Suite is paid high salaries. At least that is the perception most people have, but that is not strictly true. While the actual salary of a CMO or other member of the C-Suite is not that high, they do get great performance-related compensations. For instance, your performance as CMO may be measured by the sales volume, revenue, or other marketing metrics. With that said, you can expect to earn an annual salary of as high as 3 lakh USD. Of course, a lot depends upon the size of your organization, your qualification, and the employment landscape. 

The CMO or Chief Marketing Officer is an important part of the C-Suite. As CMO you are responsible for creating awareness and driving sales of the organization. If you aspire to be a CMO, you should begin working towards that goal early on. We hope this article has helped you understand the role of the Chief Marketing Officer. If you have any questions or would like us to review another role do let us know. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more from BlogYourNiches. To find us on social media or search engines simply type blogyourniches into your search bar. We are also on Quora so you can reach out there as well. And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for offers, blogs, and more.

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