What’s on the mind of CMOs right now? Here are 5 things…

What’s on the mind of CMOs these days? Based on last week’s private breakfast discussion with our Marketing Growth Leaders, a lot!

If you are a marketing leader, or work with CMOs, you need to know what keeps them awake at night, and find ways to help them navigate these challenging times while designing a new course for the post-pandemic world.

We gathered 29 executives from across the country. Organizations included Bozzuto, Medstar Health, Gusto, FiscalNote, Hagerty, ChurnZero, Walker & Dunlop, and Walden University. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Nine out of 29 participants said that they are constantly competing for more resources to build their organization.
  2. One-third rated their CEO relationship as “excellent” and “trusting.” (We wish that were 100%!)
  3. CMOs who embrace a growth mindset are no longer asking “should” we tie our initiatives to revenues. They are asking “how.”
  4. An obsession with short term results continues to haunt CMOs and undermine their ability to prove value. With an 82% spike in IPOs this year (compared to 2019), this systemic problem persists. (source: stockanalysis.com)

    We need to publicly acknowledge this constraint in our culture, and find ways to manage our way through it.

    During our session, one startup CMO said “focus your energy on proving your contribution to revenues. This later earns you the right to get resources for long term brand initiatives.”

    Stuart Foster, a seasoned CMO and president of Hagerty, was one of our esteemed panelists. He is a big believer in launching short-term experiments while building brand equity. Foster has a history of launching brands with Hilton, Moet-Hennessy, and TopGolf. He has been a contributing member to our Marketing Growth Leaders community for the past six years, and built the “strategic street cred” to make the leap from Marketing VP to President.

    Foster advised us to balance the long term brand focus with “staying on that short term agile planning track.” He’s a believer in sprints and reporting results regularly to build CEO confidence. We believe that over-communicating while we work from home is an imperative, and a great habit to embrace no matter what economic barriers we might be facing.
  1. Our community is deeply mindful of the surge in mental illness. They are more forgiving when someone needs to tend to an aging family member, teach their children, or take a Zoom screen break. Empathy is not a fad; it’s a part of being human. It is now woven into the fabric of how we communicate and operate in our daily lives. Our CMO members recognize that in order to advance their careers, they cannot rest on their “skills laurels” (such as demand gen, MarTech, brand building,  or events strategy). They must learn how to deepen and cultivate healthy relationships up, down, and across their ecosystem.

Embracing the growth CMO mindset isn’t about asking for a fancy title or a larger budget. It’s about becoming a master (or mistress?) of revenue generation, relationships, self-awareness, and risk taking. That’s worth more than any fancy breakfast or custom coffee mug.

Many thanks to Sitecore for sponsoring our breakfast.

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