4 Types of Chief Marketing Officers

I recently came across an article by Jake Sorofman, an analyst for Gartner on digital marketing, about the Four Main types of CMOs.

This article, which details the four main archetypes of CMO leadership, is a well presented one.

The article addresses the well-known fact that in this high speed environment, CMOs are expected to change rapidly. This is especially interesting since most CMOs indicate that they do not feel prepared for extensive changes at all.

Sorofman offers up some interesting analysis in the form of these four main CMO types.

 The first type that he outlines is the Observer. He argues that this CMO is lead mostly by the voices of their customers and is someone who will go to extreme and extraordinary lengths to understand their preferences. This is the type of CMO who will lead the focus groups, not just read their reports.

 The second type that Sorofman outlines is the Inspirer. This is the true visionary of the organization. He or she is extraordinarily creative and innovative and always striving for out of the box thinking. If you’re this type of CMO, you are on the pulse of continuous innovation.

 The third type is the Automator. This CMO is the one we have all encountered too many of. Forget innovation. This CMO is looking at efficiencies and automation as the key to improvement in every area. The most important source of improvement for this CMO is evidence based customer metrics and so you will find this CMO pouring over data ad nauseum. Now, it may seem like a negative categorization but when you look at the statistics it is a necessary one.

When polled only 2% of 200 surveyed CMOs indicated that they had a real-time well-integrated view of their customer interactions and 45% said that there was not nearly enough investment made in information and intelligence systems. This is significant as it meant that less than 16% of them felt that they could trust the reliability and depth of their customer data.

The fourth type of CMO is the Engager. He describes this CMO as a social storyteller which builds strong relationships in person and online. Most importantly he/she inspires trust and confidence not just with promises but with action. You will find customers and employees are fiercely loyal to this CMO. We have all worked for someone like this and they are unforgettable if not a little distracted.

 So what can we take from this article? Well, there are no CMOs who belong in one category entirely. We have met each of these individuals but we know there is more to them than their main “type.” The key is striking a balance. If you are getting too comfortable with one style of leadership, you may want to think about what you are missing, because you are definitely missing something. When I meet a new client or colleague and I find something frustrating or irritating about their leadership style, I look at what my own may be lacking and I know that it’s probably something this other person possesses. This article is a great one to find your area of comfort and to figure out a way to stretch your skills and personal development. And you will need it.

53% of employees surveyed believed that the CMO would make a good replacement for their CEO if they left. So keep in mind that building your leadership skills and enhancing your skills in this area could be a critical career enhancement.


James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.
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