The good news is the average tenure of the CMO is up and now sits at 44 months – the bad news is it is still the shortest in the c-suite; leaving marketing leaders and CEOs to wonder why the turnover rate is so high.

Marketing today is constantly changing, making the role of the CMO increasingly difficult and complex. The scope of marketing is so broad – covering a wide range of disciplines from digital to e-commerce and brand to communications – with everything in between. The CMO has to make sure all these functions contribute to revenue and topline growth. Bottom line is that it is the most difficult job in the C-suite.

Many CMOs fail because they lack marketing competence. However, as a CMO executive search firm, we know there’s a bigger reason – most CMOs fail to succeed in their role because they aren’t the effective change agents their organizations need.

Who Is the Super-CMO and Why You May Need One (or Need to Become One)

Advice for Success from a CMO Executive Search Firm

You just got hired as a CMO. You’re charged with leading the entire organization toward optimizing the customer experience, driving ROI, and recruiting and hiring talented marketers. You want to drive company-wide change and transformation across marketing.

As a CMO, you’re able to understand the problems with an organization’s marketing efforts. But do you truly understand the pace of change your new organization can handle?

As a CMO recruitment firm, we see CMOs both try to make change happen faster than their organization can manage, and in some cases, too to slow to be effective. Given the challenges of the marketing landscape, how do CMOs lead change management to improve the bottom-line in a new organization?

Before you plan and implement major changes in your new executive position, you must ensure you have proper buy-in first. By carefully taking certain steps, you can properly build credibility to eventually drive transformative change in your role as a CMO.

Go After Small Wins First

The most challenging part of the CMO role isn’t necessarily keeping up with the rapid rise of technology or evolving marketing trends. It’s rather the ability to push meaningful changes within their team and organization.

Many CMOs go through rounds of extensive interviews in order to get the job and believe they have established credibility within the company the day they walk in. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Leaders who try to implement transformative change too early will fail to make a favorable impression. People are typically risk-adverse and opposed to major change. Even the most brilliant campaign or strategy pitch won’t be well-received well if you don’t earn trust first.

In order to build trust and credibility within the company, you must focus on achieving small wins first to show your team and key stakeholders the potential value you’re able to add. Respect has to be earned, especially in marketing. You must proactively get involved and get in the trenches to prove marketing’s impact and meet business goals.

Speak the Language of Marketing

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Typically, CMOs encounter organizational challenges where they’re trying to implement too many changes in marketing without appropriately communicating them with their peer group.

CMOs inevitably know more about marketing than any other leader in the c-suite. They can easily identify the holes in the strategy and identify which parts of a company’s marketing are broken. It is up to the CMO to speak the language of marketing so that the CEO and rest of the c-suite clearly understand the changes he or she is trying to make.

Build relationships with peers, key people across different departments, and show them that you’re listening to their expertise. Getting input from as many different people as possible early on is important, especially if they’re close to marketing.

A CMO who has gained credibility is able to bust down silos across critical functions, demonstrate the impact of marketing gaps, find solutions to fix them, and bring out everyone’s best skills and performance.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Culture

You’ve probably gained a good understanding of the culture through the interview process and hopefully, the culture was a key driver in you accepting the role. When you enter your new role, don’t underestimate the process of becoming fully immersed in it.

Hopefully, you understood what the culture was before you walked in and now live within those boundaries. If you failed to do so and try to make major adjustments to a well-established environment, people will resist your leadership and expertise.

Remember, your energy fuels your team’s energy. Be the type of leader who is able to adjust and lead in a way that doesn’t come off as intrusive or disruptive to the culture your team’s accustomed to.

Final Words: It’s Not Just About the Marketing

Can you fulfill your role as a CMO from a marketing perspective? Can you lead and manage your team in a positive way? Is the culture of this organization somewhere you want to work long-term? Before you accept the position of a CMO, you want to assess your individual fit for each of the areas.

Experienced CMO executive search firms realize most CMOs fail to succeed because their marketing, leadership or cultural fit weren’t strong enough or aligned with the organization’s values. While marketing aptitude is necessary to succeed as a CMO, you can’t forego leadership or cultural skills. Encompassing all of these qualities ensure you’re in a position where you can drive maximum impact and meaningful change the right way.

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