The CMO's legacy

Byron Sharp
Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

CFO: "But what if we invest in training these sales and marketing people and then they leave?" CMO: "What if we don't invest in them and they stay?"

In my final Admap column I'd like to reflect on the legacy to which chief marketing officers should aspire. The usual things that come to mind are spearheading marketing mix changes, e.g. new product launches, new markets, and new media. All very fine, but this is the same criterion used to judge marketers further down the organisation chart. Whereas the role of CMOs goes beyond implementation, they are also responsible for building capability. In the long run, it's capabilities that determine which organisations last, which deliver sustained profits, and which are rendered obsolete by marketplace changes.

Sadly, too many marketing departments are so busy chasing their tails that there is no time for development and improvement. They are so busy, not because their work is so important, but because they are inefficient. Working smart frees up time to learn to be smarter; it's a virtuous spiral, but a route that too few marketing departments are travelling.