CMOs, Expanding Their Leadership Roles, Look to Forge Critical Internal Connections

March 5, 2014

HeidrickForrester-CMOs-Roles-and-Internal-Relationships-Mar2014CMOs are maintaining a strong focus on revenue goals as they seek to demonstrate their business value in a variety of ways, from qualitative sales feedback to lead data, pipeline impact generated by marketing and marketing involvement in sales opportunities. That’s according to a recent study from Heidrick & Struggles and Forrester Research that finds 6 in 10 CMOs to be expanding their leadership and influence in general business strategy.

Indeed, CMOs responding to the study feel that their experience with strategy (91%) and general management (72%) sets them up for an enhanced role within the organization.

The study comes after several other pieces of research have pointed to marketing’s changing role and the pressure CMOs are under to prove their worth:

As marketing’s role expands, internal relationships must develop and strengthen. Indeed, while almost all of the respondents to the Heidrick & Struggles study view vision and strategic thinking as critical to their success, more than 6 in 10 also see their relationships with peers on senior executive team as vital, while 28% believe those relationships need improvement.

Which relationships deserve the most attention? The results indicate 3 in 4 CMOs believe that their relationship with the head of sales is critical, with that sentiment much stronger among B2B CMOs (90%). About 6 in 10 respondents (including two-thirds of B2B CMOs) feel that their relationship with the head of product/R&D is critical, while 45% (54% of B2C CMOs) feel that way about the chief financial officer and 18% (39% of B2C CMOs) about the chief operations officer.

Also important: about half value the CIO as important, up from 30% in a similar study conducted in 2011, while more than 6 in 10 agree that the CIO is a strategic partner in meeting corporate goals. The CMO-CIO relationship has also been a topic of interest of late; the evolving attitudes discovered in this report are a welcome respite from other pieces of research (such as this one) showing the relationship as having more friction. Still, only 4 in 10 respondents to this latest survey agree that marketing and IT share a common vision of how they should work together.

CMOs are also using other relationships to build their insight: somewhere around 9 in 10 see valuable sources of learning in their marketing team (92%), marketing peers outside of the organization (92%), recruitment of new marketing talent (91%), CEO mentorship (88%) and non-marketing peers in the organization (86%).

Other Findings:

  • About 3 in 4 CMOs realize that competitive advantage comes from a singular focus on the customer.
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 say that everyone has the same synchronized view of the customer.
  • About half use rare or never use complex data (big data) to make marketing decisions.
  • Some 45% view marketing technology as essential.

About the Data: Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles conducted the Q3 2013 Forrester/Heidrick & Struggles Global Evolved CMO Online Survey of 212 organizations globally to evaluate the role of the CMO. Survey participants included decision-makers in CMO or senior-most marketer roles in the organization. The survey respondents represent 41% B2B, 39% B2C, and 20% equal combination of both B2B and B2C. Industries include consumer packaged goods, software, financial services, consulting, retailers, insurance providers, media, healthcare, hotels, banking, wholesale and distribution, transportation, telecommunications, computers and electronics, real estate, and logistics services.

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