What kind of CMO are you?

A new global study by Forbes shows the goals, strengths and struggles of top marketers are more similar than one might think.
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Their goals and business struggles are similar, but CMOs around the world might be the same in other ways, according to a new study by Forbes Insights (the research arm of Forbes magazine).

In a global survey conducted by SAP on behalf of Forbes, 318 CMOs were asked to self-identify where their strengths and weaknesses were in categories including the corporate culture they create, the capabilities they have at their disposal and the output they deliver. They were also asked about their goals, aspirations and how well they were succeeding at them.

While 92% of CMOs surveyed have been mandated with driving growth, only 38 of those surveyed, or 12%, scored high enough across all attributes to be considered what the study refers to as a high-performing “growth CMO.” The common factors among these CMOs where the high levels of planning and internal controls, their team’s ability to listen and learn collectively, the budget available to them to drive their goals, as well as having a well-defined role within their company and good partnership with other internal functions.

Building their omni-channel capabilities and delivering data-driven insights were self-identified as common weaknesses among those surveyed. This may be partly because only 45% of them said digital and social media channels fell under their control. Despite this, over 90%  said they were meeting or exceeding their growth goals.

Based on the results, the survey was able to identify six major personas that most CMOs fall into, highlighting the areas they have been successful in and what areas they might not realize need attention.

The most common persona, at 34%, was the “Dynamic Orchestrator CMO,” which has strength in traditional talent building and being agile in their marketing, yet still struggles in delivering omni-channel and data-driven results. Only one third of these CMOs come from a traditional business background and are often more concerned with finding ways to prove their own philosophy towards marketing, sometimes leading to issues working with others.

The second most-common persona was the “Selective Defender CMO” at 25%. Generally more focused on very specific areas of the marketing mix and with less responsibilities than a typical CMO, they tend to be much stronger in the omni-channel and data capabilities that others struggle with, but their lack of purview generally makes them less ambitious and more risk-adverse, meaning they have trouble fostering a positive culture among their teams, building their talent and creating trust and social engagement among consumers.

At 21%, the next most-common was the “Strategic Guru CMO,” a strategy-oriented marketer that is strong in technology, risk intelligence and measurement, but can improve in growing omni-channel capabilities and driving consumer engagement.

“Untapped Potential CMOs,” representing 16% of those surveyed, generally work at smaller companies that rely on direct sales and, as a result, have smaller budgets to put towards achieving their growth mandate and have to work under stricter internal controls. These constraints do lead to them taking advantage of what they do have using data and fostering market centricity (putting themselves in the shoes of an outside observer to find new things they provide to enhance consumer experience, something all the surveyed CMOs felt they had strength in), but limit their ability to grow talent and be agile in the marketing they provide.

A small group (3%) have been identified as “Demand Driver CMOs,” who are often younger and have less experience in their roles and are common among mid-size retailers. They often have more defensive growth goals, protecting revenue or recovering lost ground as opposed to increasing market share. The type of business they do means they have to be skilled in omni-channel and data, but often have trouble recruiting talent and building new technological solutions.

The smallest group, at 2%, was the “Convential Coach CMOs,” old-school marketers that work at large, established companies with smaller growth goals. Their plans and controls in place are often static and leave little room for being agile or providing risk intelligence, but their experience leads them to excel in recruiting and training talent.

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