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National and Global, United States

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

In my world of almost 30 years of the marketing and CMO role discussion, I believe that the marketing misnomer/definition has been bastardized by many industries. However, in its truest 'negative' form, I have found that my technology Interim positions misrepresent it the most. They see it as simply 'marcom' and/or an extension of their sales process. Both definitions are totally incorrect.

"We need more marketing" I've heard from the CEO of a public company. He had no idea what he was talking about. He didn't want 'marketing'. He didn't really know what the discipline entails, and how it is the single most important discipline in your organizational structure. Because without it, you have no 'brand'. You are back to 'commodity'. You are 'oats', not Quaker Oats.

He wanted more sales, and so C-level management interchanges the two disciplines with the same definition. In essence (hey we should all know this), marketing develops and directs STRATEGY (this term takes any number of forms). SALES executes that strategy in the marketplace. Therefore the logic in all of this is that SALES (yes, that VP out there somewhere) should report to Marketing, and the VP Marketing (wherever they are), should direct sales and oversee that execution.

Those synergies help to build 'brand' and have both accountability as well as empowerment to see it happen. In most of my Interim management and corporate roles, the two disciplines are "SILOS" unto themselves. Big mistake for the companies, as well as those true marketing professionals, who have actually let it happen. Now....everyone just chases their own tail.

I find the same issue in the definition of "Consultant". I was on one board, and someone actually posted their credentials as "Sandwich Consultant". He worked at Blimpie! Another was a "Cosmetic Consultant" (Mary Kay Cosmetics). Get the point? Without any 'official standards' you just don't have a 'brand'. People will define the disciplines to suit their personal needs at the moment. And as am Interim C-level professional, that's where you stop everyone from chasing their tail...and start chasing strategic objectives.

"In my mind, Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation", wrote Peter Drucker.

Or you can take the Edwin Lung perspective: “Marketing is what you do when your product is no good

I prefer the former, thank you.

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