Growth Insights for CEOs

The CMO is Dead? Long Live the CEO-CMO

Posted by The Chief Outsider



A recent article in Forbes magazine entitled The CMO is Dead presents some thought-provoking views on marketing in general and more specifically in what the head of marketing in a company should be doing. The author of this article, Dominique Turpin, a professor and President of IMD, a business school in Switzerland, advocates that the CMO (or Chief Marketing Officer) is becoming increasing powerless and peripheral. He goes on to say that perhaps the CEO should become the CMO of the company:

Get the CEO to be the CMO

"CEOs can drive the customer-centricity agenda better than anyone else. They have the power to lead a company’s culture, increase customer focus and drive the recruitment of customer-oriented people. The CEO-as-CMO also sends a strong message throughout the organization that the customer is at the center of the company’s key preoccupations and that marketing is everybody’s job."

This may seem to be radical thinking but that is exactly what Chief Outsiders believes: 

The CEO is the #1 Marketer for the Company

The Chief Marketing Officer's role is to be the #2 marketer and to translate the CEO's vision and value proposition into an insightful and actionable plan that delivers measureable results.

If you look at how companies get started, the entrepreneur (who usually ends up as the CEO) has a tight grasp on the market and on the customer's needs. In order to maintain growth the CEO needs to be on the front line and is constantly making commitments to customers which drives product development and the company's unique fit in the market. I am happy to see that the trend in the market is for the CEO to maintain this tight connection to the customer, the market and the competition. 

Mr. Turpin is not suggesting that marketing is not required in an organization and that the CEO should run marketing at the detailed level. He is suggesting however that marketing needs to be more focused on the customer and therefore is suggesting a title change to Chief Customer Officer to reset the roles and responsibilities of the head of marketing to something more in tune with the evolution of how companies are being run today. 

To this end I believe that the head of marketing needs to own a key process in the company that I refer to as the Customer Order Fulfillment Process. The key elements of this process are:

  • Managing the Strategic Forecast
  • Order Capture
  • Order Management
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Billing

A more detailed sample of the model is below:

COF Process model

This is not to say that the head of marketing should have all these organizations reporting to him/her, but that as the key process owner they control the effectiveness of how a company relates to its customers and prospects. This is something very different for most current CMOs or VPs of Marketing. It means that they should have intimate knowledge of every aspect of the company. After all the key process elements described above are what the customer sees, then the interaction of these elements of the process with the company are what forms customer opinion, for better or worse. By owning this key process, the head of marketing can reclaim their role in the company and be the customer advocate.

Topics: Chief Marketing Officer, CEO Perspectives, CEO Strategies, CEO Marketing Vision