CMO autonomy leads to better C-Suite relationships

Despite growing expectations on marketers, a survey shows some feel their roles are misunderstood by CEOs and CFOs.

In spite of CMOs’ broadening responsibilities, new research suggests many C-Suite level executives do not understand the extent to which they contribute to their companies’ bottom lines.

The survey, conducted by marketing and media consultancy NewBase, polled 120 CMOs from 20 different countries, including Canada, during the month of January. Its findings reveal an “understanding gap” between CMOs and their C-Suite level counterparts.

A little more than half of CMOs surveyed (53%) say their CEO fully understands what they do and only a quarter say their CFO fully understands the influence marketing can have on a company’s bottom line. Moreover, 71% of marketers say their function is under-performing as a result of a lack of influence on their company’s business strategy, and only 40% believe they have full control of their budgets.

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NewBase’s findings come at a time when the scope of marketers’ remits have widened to include customer experience and more data-driven and revenue-generating initiatives, in addition to their traditional responsibilities, according to the consultancy. Overall, 72% of the marketers surveyed said their job has become more accountable and focused on revenue, and nearly two-thirds (61%) believe their duties have become more complex in recent years.

According to the survey, greater autonomy, budget control and influence on business strategy for CMOs leads to better relationships among C-Suite executives, with 72% saying they have a “very good” relationship with their CEO when they have full autonomy. That number drops to 46% for those without full autonomy.

While 60% of CMOs believe marketing is a revenue driver for their firm, more than half of them said they think that “CFOs do not understand the full value marketing brings to the business.” That has led to more fraught relationships between the two executive ranks, as only 40% of marketers believe they have a good relationship with their CFOs, and close to two-thirds of marketers described having trouble convincing their CFOs that increased investment in marketing is needed to grow the business.

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