A recent article in Advertising Age, “Don’t Call Me CMO: Top Marketers Say Job Has Evolved Beyond Title” reflects the sad state of the profession. The topic of the job title came up at a recent ANA conference. Comments included a “wonder if in five to 10 years whether we should be called chief marketing officers anymore,” by ConAgra Foods CMO Joan Chow; and General Electric CMO Beth Comstock saying her job was as much a “chief growth officer as anything;” and Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn saying that CMOs really need to be chief innovation officers.
This is all because too many people think Marketing is promotion. That is the back-end of Marketing. The article noted something I have pointed out for years: “While the CMO’s responsibilities are broadening in general, job descriptions vary widely, unlike a chief financial officer, whose role is fairly similar no matter where the person works, so companies and recruiters must clearly define the role before filling it.” This is simply because Marketing (with a capital M) is not practiced by most Chief Marketing Officers. They are mostly Directors (VPs) of Integrated Marketing Communications (and integrated may be a stretch in some cases).
As we note in our book Value Acceleration, too many companies only consider the so-called “back-end” of Marketing to be marketing. They miss the critical importance of the front-end, including Product Marketing and Product Management as well as over-all Marketing Strategy.
The only role of Marketing is to grow profitable revenue, and for the CMO of a company like GE to have to suggest that this is “new” given that GE understood this in 1952 is sad and enlightening all at the same time.
The root cause problem of the title is the misunderstanding of the role of Marketing. To believe that Marketing is simply Integrated Marketing Communications (at best) is the root cause of the job title problem. Marketing’s core job is to align the capabilities of the company with the current and future needs of its customers. It is the only aspect of business that cannot be outsourced and is therefore the foundation of competitive advantage.