A matter of multiple CMO personas

Report reveals CMOs cluster into six distinct personas, with a growth mandate high on the agenda

When it comes to today’s CMO, there is no one-size-fits-all skillset. But a new study by Forbes Insights has revealed marketing chiefs are now falling into six clearly defined personas.

The report, The Growth CMO: Personas and Potential , surveyed 318 global CMOs and senior marketing executives in 2014 and was undertaken in collaboration with SAP and gyro. While these personas have individual strengths and weaknesses, more than 90 per cent want a growth mandate of some sort, be it top line, market share or segment development.

The six personas are:

  • Strategic Guru: More likely to be a long-time marketer with strategy-oriented responsibilities at a larger organisation, where mastering process and influencing colleagues is paramount.

  • Dynamic Orchestrator: Achieves high scores on agility, despite having a big personality and desire for control. The dynamic orchestrator also performs well under pressure surrounds themselves with people who have high capabilities.

  • Selective Defender: Picks the right battle to defend the marketing turf. The selective defender is less ambitious and more risk-averse than average. This persona type is less ambitious and more risk averse than the other categories.

  • Conventional Coach: Carries out static plans under rigid controls for larger, slow-growth companies. While conventional coaches tend to engage less in social media and e-commerce, they are pressured to demonstrate marketing ROI and often clashes with other functions over budgets, targets, and deadlines.

  • Demand Driver: Typically comes from a sales background and has CRM and lead-generation responsibilities. The demand driver’s strength is co-ordinating activities across channels and touch points. However this persona generally scores poorly when it comes to technology use and talent recruitment.

  • Untapped Potential: Traditionally works in slow-growth companies with weak corporate cultures and talent pipelines as well as tight internal controls.

Significantly, Forbes found today’s CMOs want to “influence strategy”. Yet only one in eight clears all necessary obstacles to be considered part of the elite group of high-performing growth CMOs.

Omni-channel marketing, digital channels and big data are common struggles and areas of conflict for CMOs. Ownership of digital channels and social media among CMOs is also low, often leading to issues with other business functions.

Key differentiators between high-performing marketing organisations and less successful teams include the level of planning and internal controls in place, the marketing team’s ability to listen and learn collectively, as well as the budgets and income available to drive marketing’s goals.

According to the Forbes report, maturity around the role of the CMO within the company, and the level of partnership with other functions, also has a significant impact on the marketing organisation’s performance overall.

The report authors said it was misguided to assume the ‘CMO’ title means the same thing to all organisations. Yet common themes emerge such as analytics, research, intelligence, advertising and branding, all of which are increasingly data driven and strategic.

Forbes also noted two-thirds of CMOs don’t have a marketing background, with operations and business development the most common auxiliary skill sets.

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