Marketing’s claim to the C-suite is more than strong enough

The chief executive has decided to gather the leadership together to devise a new five-year plan for growth. And wants total focus. Away from distractions. Away from devices. Somewhere different, quiet, literally above the fray.

A hot air balloon has been prepared. Inside the basket now sit the heads of finance, operations, legal, sales, information, HR and marketing. Plus the CEO. And a pristine flipchart on a stand. Over the next two hours, the new strategy will pour forth and be set down.

But there’s a hitch. Just before lift-off, the CEO is informed that the group is too heavy. Someone will have to step out. Someone’s voice will not be heard. Whose?


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Thomas Barta: What’s the point of the CMO?

Does the role help marketing departments lead successful businesses or is it an overused title that promises more than most of its holders will be able to deliver?

I guess it’s a new-year thing, but recently I thought about a question I’ve been toying with for a long time. Is the chief marketing officer role a good idea? Or should we accept the reality in many firms, get rid of the title and pick a term that reflects what most marketing executives are actually doing: communications?

Strong support exists for either route. I’m writing this column to invite your comments – because I’m genuinely unsure.

To structure the debate, I’ve dug out the facts that support getting rid of the CMO aspiration and those that lead to the opposite conclusion – keeping the title and pushing for more CMO influence. I’ve spent the last couple of years fighting for the latter, but I’m open to a challenge.

Let’s start with the facts for why we should ditch the CMO.

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The big debate: Is CMO succession in crisis?

With brands increasingly looking to external candidates to fill CMO vacancies, how many marketers are waiting for a promotion that will never come and how can they ensure they don’t get left on the shelf?

When appointing a new marketing leader, boards and CEOs must weigh up whether the skills they need exist within the current team or whether they should hire an external recruit who embodies the evolving CMO skillset.

When it comes to the crunch, external hires are growing in popularity. During the first half of 2017, 72% of publicly reported CMO appointments were external candidates, up from 64% during the same period in 2016, according to research by Russell Reynolds Associates.

The executive search firm recorded 187 marketing leadership appointments over a six-month period, the highest number

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