The Evolution of the CMO

Alex Zakupowsky, May 26, 2016

Marketing in Silicon Valley is going through a rebirth. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many CEOs, marketing executives, heads of sales, Chief Product Officers, and investors about what makes a great CMO and where marketing is headed in 2016 and the years to follow.

Throughout my work the first half of 2016 a few trends I have noticed:

  • Demand for the game-changing CMO is extremely high. Turnover rates are high compared to the rest of the C-Level, and catalyst CMOs are in short supply.

  • The perceived value of marketing is on the rise. Consider the 2012 Forbes article “The CMO is dead” versus recent studies showing that companies with a CMO on their executive team perform 15% better, on average, than companies without one.

  • The description of the superlative CMO is going through a redesign. The demand for expert digital marketers, executives with experience in social media, CRM, SEO, and other online approaches is rapidly gaining traction in the C-Suite.

  • The ROI of the marketing organization is becoming more data/metrics driver and less ambiguous and circumstantial. With the increase in digital marketing, leadership can now judge marketing successes faster with online systems and dashboards.

  • CMOs today are responsible for a broader scope of responsibilities than ever before. This provides an opportunity to influence corporate strategy and align marketing metrics directly with business metrics.

Across technology, there is high demand for marketing executives with a blend of creative and technical skills. I do not necessarily mean a ‘Masters in Engineering’ type technical skillset, but in technology these are complex sales (think about security & networking among other examples). ‘Hot’ technology markets such as Cloud computing, IoT, and cybersecurity face massive competition ranging from established players in the field to massively funded startups.

Today it is more important than ever for CMOs to differentiate themselves through sharp and relevant content, creative campaigns, and establishing a brand that is the trusted advisor/solution in the space.

At Lonergan Partners, Alex recruits world class executives for companies in the networking, Saas, cloud and IoT sectors.