Do you know what the average tenure of a CMO is?
It’s about three and half years – and dropping. Is that why they say it’s lonely at the top? But everything is relative, so let’s get some context.
Is there a correlation between NFL Coaches and Chief Marketing Officers? Are marketers similarly managing campaigns and teams that get banged up weekly? That might be the case, at least a little in jest, but tenure in the CMO chair is the lowest in the C Suite, and that tenure is dropping lower annually. So why is that?
Everyone is a Marketer
Of all these organizational roles, marketing is the most’ visible’, at least from a customer-facing perspective. Burger King may have won several awards, but no one’s really similarly interested in BK Ops or Finance. Since digital makes up a considerable part of marketing budgets today, mass consumers’ exposure to brand content takes place largely on social media – the same place where everyone – including your customer – is marketing themselves, just like the brands they follow and emulate. Andy Warhol was right when he said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” It’s the Instagram influencer in a nutshell.
Andy Warhol was right when he said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” It’s the Instagram influencer in a nutshell.
The Stakes are High
As corporate responsibility has become firmly rooted in marketing and brand identity over the last generation, consumer expectations can make or break those initiatives. Here’s what that looks like across two extremes:
While it’s easy to pile on Kendall and heroize Patagonia, who has basically entered brand sainthood, there is little doubt that the ways and means for customer impact on brand navigation have never been more in the hands of the audience.
In previous generations, it was the people who put a stop to New Coke. It was consumer sentiment that forced trans fats out of packaged goods. But today, through social media – that same power can be exercised in minutes, not weeks or months. So not knowing your customer in today’s marketing reality is a huge liability. So much so that we have based our entire methodology around solving this. You can learn more about it HERE.
There is little doubt that the ways and means for customer impact on brand navigation have never been more in the hands of the audience.
It Was Like That When I Got Here
There’s a bit of a vicious cycle at play here, kind of like a vortex. New marketing leadership arrives to fix or change the course of the previous. It takes time to evaluate, ideate, build and execute – and often, sticking around to see what sticks is an exercise in career risk mitigation.
If it goes well, you’re a star. ‘The person that turned ____ around’ that opened the potential to level up career and salary-wise. If it doesn’t go well – ‘My plan was excellent, but proper execution failed after my departure.’ Either way, all of this drives tenure down.
So what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t dedicated, high-performing individuals at the pinnacle of their industry get to choose and dictate their career path such as this? Of course, they should.
But the collateral damage can land on the brand through lack of consistency, reliance on trends and industry fetishism. Like in the NFL, it’s easier to switch up the Coach than to trade or draft 48 players. It takes time to turn a big ship like that.
So, What’s a CMO To Do?
There’s a lot at play to influence such decisions in addition to the key points above – the economy at large, politics, industry changes and impact, personal drives and motivation. Unfortunately, no Aha Moment will fix this.
It’s a case-by-case experience that each marketer, brand, and organization needs to navigate. Our goal here is to unpack this phenomenon and shed light on the contributing factors. While a myriad of external influences impacts this that cannot be controlled, it puts the highest importance on identifying, managing and controlling the factors that can be controlled.
We built our agency around the fundamental core element that knowing your customer is everything, and this becomes increasingly accurate year after year after year. That is the source of truth. That is what should guide a brand’s actions, messaging, and purpose, and it lives within a Brand Advocacy System. You can learn more about it HERE.
If you are interested in learning more about how to enhance your understanding of your audience’s attitudes, beliefs, and subsequent behaviours, complete the form, and a member of our team will be in touch.