The role of the Chief Marketing Officer is alive and well and will stay that way in the future – but it’s in for some major changes, concludes a new study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The WFA research highlights the need, it says, “to look beyond the cult of the CMO as the person with ultimate wisdom in all the complex areas that now affect the role”.

Team capabilities, and the softer skills needed to effectively lead a team, are increasingly critical for CMOs, the report says.

Marketers’ ever-expanding responsibilities typically range across nine distinct areas, the WFA finds, from marketing strategy (79%) through to data ethics (34%), business growth (58%) through to sustainability (37%).

Many of these areas are expected to become increasingly important during the next five years, with 80% of respondents citing sustainability, 77% the need to manage digital martech and platforms, and 74% the role of data ethics.

In addition, 73% of respondents expect data analytics to become more important, while 72% see customer experience/centricity becoming a significant component of a CMO’s work.

Beyond these specific areas, CMOs must show skills outside the immediate marketing context, with 71% of respondents agreeing that “general business acumen beyond marketing” is an important skill. Eight in ten also think that “cultural sensitivity” is important: soft skills highlighted by respondents in particular were curiosity, energy, passion and flexibility.

“The CMO is not dead, they are just being reborn in a new form,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA, describing that as “the conductor of the orchestra of marketing experts, both internal and external, both local and global”.

The role of teams and team work will be critical going forward, especially with regard to those soft skills involved with managing diverse teams, and the people skills necessary to navigate both cultural differences between regions and markets, plus the interaction between central organisations and local market teams.

The WFA found that European marketers put more value on short-term growth and sales, while Asia put less emphasis on the breadth of skills. In the Americas, brand purpose and collaboration all over-indexed, while the Middle East and Africa put more emphasis on leadership, digital skills and innovation.

The report also highlights the problem that some in the profession have failed to show value to senior colleagues; even so, only 20% of respondents believe the role of the CMO won’t exist in a decade. 

Sourced from World Federation of Advertisers