Why The Best Chief Marketing Officer Might Not Be a Marketer: Introducing the 360-Degree CMO

Attention CEOs: Are you looking for a chief marketing officer? Don't hire a marketer!

Well, perhaps that's going a bit too far. Maybe, I should have said, "Don't hire 'just' a marketer."

The CMO has always been responsible for corporate positioning, product marketing, demand generation, etc. However, the scope of a typical CMO's role has greatly expanded over the years and now encompasses more influence and responsibility than ever. This is due to the fact that lines continue to blur between marketing and sales, marketing and product management, marketing and corporate strategy, marketing and IT.

Unfortunately many CMOs lack the necessary depth and breadth of experience to handle this expanded role. A recent study by the Fournaise Group found that 80 percent of 1,200 CEOs do not trust and aren't impressed with marketers' work. (By comparison, 90 percent said they value their CIOs and CFOs).

Gone are the days when a typical CMO began as a marketing analyst, then on to marketing manager, then to marketing director, to marketing VP, and finally to CMO. The expanded scope and increased expectations for the marketing function demands a new breed of CMO with far more cross-functional expertise and experience. As a result, CMOs of the future will need to have demonstrated both marketing leadership and business leadership.

What? The CMO Will Actually Sell Something?
CMOs will continue to have more direct responsibility for sales. As self-service eCommerce continues to grow, the size of many direct sales teams will shrink. According to Forrester, 75 percent of B2B customers stated that it was more convenient to buy from a website rather than a direct sales rep. Forrester also found that 93 percent say that they prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson when they've decided what to buy. Given that the marketing function manages most corporate websites, CMOs will have some level of accountability and quota for online sales.

Marketing and Engineering: A Perfect Marriage, Just Like Oil and Water
Hey Engineering and Product Development, marketing can be your friend. Market analytics and customer insights will be even more critical than ever in this era of rapid prototyping, software trials, downloadable upgrades, creative packaging/pricing, etc. Especially in highly fragmented B2B sectors, such as analytics, collaboration, security, storage, etc., timely analytics and insights can offer critical input to a number of areas, such as product roadmaps and new product rollouts. To that end, CMOs will serve a broader and deeper role in connecting Engineering and Product Development with customers/markets by acting more like a Chief Customer Officer.

Marketing, IT, and Data
Due to a variety of factors, such as the increased utilization of digital marketing, social media, SEO and online sales, CMOs often have equal or higher budgets than their CIO counterparts for new IT investments. Additionally, the proliferation of analytics to better understand prospects, buyers, users, market segments, and competitors has created a corporate "center-of-gravity" for big data within the marketing function. Clearly, marketing has become completely inextricable from technology, systems and data. Therefore, CMOs will need to have a solid foundation in technology along with experience in the application of data science.

The ROI of Marketing: Myth or Reality?
Multiple industry surveys have found that most CEOs are frustrated with their CMO's lack of measuring and delivering ROI. For example, the aforementioned survey by the Fournaise Group found that 74 percent of CEOs wanted their CMOs to be more focused on ROI. Hence, the new breed of CMO will truly understand and have hands-on experience on how to deliver against key financial metrics such as P&L and ROI. CMOs will analyze and make potential marketing investments in a manner similar to that of a general manager or divisional president.

Introducing...the 360-Degree CMO
The CMO of the future will be a 360-degree CMO. What does that really mean? Although the CMO will certainly continue to be a marketing leader, he or she will also have hands-on, relevant experiences in each (or most) of the areas previously discussed. While that may seem like a tall order, it's no different than the expectations for a potential CEO candidate -- a range of adjacent experiences and accomplishments that complement the position. The expanded scope of a CMO's role is the only position within a company that comes anywhere close to the breadth and depth of a CEO's role. So, why should we expect less from a CMO?

In addition to cross-functional experience, the 360-degree CMO will also be adept at managing and truly delivering ROI. Ultimately, marketing programs in themselves don't really matter. Revenue generation and market growth matter! Of course, not every marketing investment is expected to deliver a "hard" dollar return, but it can still be measured and assessed in a quantifiable manner. The 360-degree CMO will have a relentless focus on measuring the value of marketing investments, with more of a "general manager approach" to potential investment alternatives.

So remember, Mr. or Ms. CEO: Your next CMO's credentials must be not only deep, but broad. Go with a 360-degree CMO and you'll never look back.

Syed Hoda is chief marketing officer at ParStream, the industry's leading analytics platform for the Internet of Things

testPromoTitleReplace testPromoDekReplace Join HuffPost Today! No thanks.