Every month a new ‘CMO of the month’

CMOIt’s quite remarkable: the average CEO lasts eight years and the average CFO lasts ten years, but the average CMO is out after two to four years. Why is Chief Marketing Officer tenure so short? Why is there such a revolving door at the most senior marketing position?

According to an article at tomfishburne.com, one underlying factor is short-term thinking. Brand building doesn’t happen overnight and many marketing programs take time to incubate. Traditionally it has been a challenge to prove the immediate ROI (link) of many marketing programs. If the CMO doesn’t have a long enough runway, he or she can get pushed out before the initiatives bear fruit. This can create a vicious circle, as each CMO change can give whiplash to the rest of the organization.

In addition, experts have pointed to a host of reasons for the short tenure of a CMO: the explosion of social media, the rise of big data, general complexity, chaos and incompetence. And as Ty Montague argues in his new book, the best-run and most successful companies convey one clear, understandable story through every action that they take, not solely through their marketing. And it has been said that the only person who can actually manage this whole story is the CEO. Should CEOs therefore involve CMOs more in this story and share the resonsibility a bit more? Maybe both business and CMOs will last longer.

The good news is that CMO tenure, while low, is starting to rise and the role of the CMO is evolving. Analytics, technology, and mobile are all expanding the impact of marketing on a business. As CMOs embrace these new opportunities, their value in an organization will only increase.

Although the good news is that the tenure of the average CMO is increasing, the tenure is still pretty short. Especially in comparison to other senior positions. What do you think could be a good reason for, or solution to, this fact?

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