Things Every CEO Expects from a CMO (Part A)

CEOs CAN BE A REAL PAIN… I apologize on behalf of all of us who have driven you mad. As a CEO of an advertising agency, I understand that it’s hard to meet our expectations. We want increased ROI on decreased budgets. We want to build the future while increasing what we did in the past. We want to see fresh ideas daily, and proof for how they worked before. We want. Well, we don’t actually know what we want sometimes. But, we do expect a CMO to play several key roles for us:

1. Be a CFO
Let’s face it, the first thing on your CEO’s mind is the bottom line. CMOs can no longer say, “The creative is compelling!” and hope that moves the heart of the CEO. “The facts point to a solid ROI” is a much more effective statement than “I need a larger budget to execute this year’s branding strategy.” Run P&Ls and build accurate budgets. Give your CEO a reason to trust you by showing how your campaign will benefit the business. Then ask for a signature.

2. Be a CTO
A CMO must look to the data. Numbers don’t lie. An analytics-based ad agency has a plethora of data-management and aggregation tools at their disposal. Your contract gives you access to all of it. Data can tell us where the market is, who the market is, what the market wants and how to reach them. CEOs are knowledge-freaks. They will understand you if you start with, research findings rather than your “expert opinion.”

3. Be a CIO
If you don’t innovate your competitors will. Often times data will only hint at what the customers want, but as Henry Ford famously put it, “If I would have asked the customer what they wanted they would have told me a ‘faster horse.’” Try to interpret your data like Amazon does for their customers. Track customers’ actions, not just the data of customers’ current preferences. Be careful. Historic data will only tell you to be the follower in your field.

4. Be a CAO
Be the chief advocate officer of your customers. IDEO, a business consulting agency, sent an agent into a medical client’s ER room while faking an injury so he could fully immerse himself in the process that patients go through. His findings unearthed insights that led to innovative changes in the way they treat their patients today. Adding “Customer Advocate” to your job title might be a little daunting, but the time you invest will yield a great return.

5. CMO = Chief Motivational Officer
CEOs expect their CMOs to be able to motivate the entire company behind the brand. Your CEO expects you to be able to mobilize every worker in your company behind the brand’s image. External branding campaigns are important, but that doesn’t mean that internal ones aren’t. Even if the ROI is strong on a campaign, a new hire or an innovative investment, it might still be seen as unnecessary or even reckless. Unless you motivate. You must provide your CEO with the excitement and belief that it will work, and even if it doesn’t (God forbid) you will still have gained valuable insights that justify the cost.

Part 2 of this post will be available soon.