A CMO, or Chief Marketing Officer, is a senior corporate executive who leads a company’s marketing strategy. In other words, they are the tree from which all the marketing acorns fall.
They are the person who decides how, where, and when to market a company’s products and services, with the ultimate goal being to increase revenue and sustainably grow the company.
What is a CMO?
A Chief Marketing Officer often referred to as a CMO, is responsible for planning, developing, and overseeing the marketing department and its various components.
They have their hands in every aspect of the marketing department, from sales and customer service to graphic design and public relations. It can be a high-pressure job that comes with a large amount of responsibility.
In a typical corporate structure, a CMO works alongside the c-suite executives, including the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, and reports directly to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, or CEO.
Roles that work under a CMO include vice presidents, marketing directors, and managers that make up the leadership team in a marketing department.
What Does a CMO Do?
Now we know that a CMO wears multiple hats. But what do they do? For starters, they act as a storyteller and a brand advocate, a friend of the consumer, a technology wizard, and a leader for their employees.
They are also expert communicators and business leaders who can work with various departments that have a role in the success of a product or service.
Types of CMOs
There are several common CMO “profiles” that most CMOs fall into.
1. Revenue Generator
A CMO considered to be a revenue generator is going to have less control or input with the design portion of a company’s marketing strategy.
They bring in a high amount of revenue, and because of this, they garner an increased amount of respect in a world where money talks.
2. The Strategy Designer
Managers with limited sales responsibility, who focus on marketing elements like customers and customer experience, brand development and usage, and product development.
Implementation is not in their job description, but they are good at figuring out how to design a marketing strategy.
They ultimately lead the design of new products and determine how those products can be used in the real world.
3. Growth Driver
This is one of the most challenging profiles for companies to fill. A CMO who is good at driving growth is an excellent communicator and delegator. They are primarily responsible for increasing revenue.
However, they also grow other elements like client retention and acquisition, social media following, website visitors, and overall customer satisfaction.
4. The Supporter
The type of CMO who falls into the “supporter” category creates marketing content in both the physical and digital spaces.
A CMO supports the marketing department and its overall vision through their knowledge of technology, inbound marketing, and other relevant marketing tools.
However, this type of CMO does not have the same level of responsibility as a CMO responsible for strategy design, implementation, and execution in addition to acting as a team lead.
Most companies have a full-time, in-house CMO on staff.
The reason for this is because a full-time CMO is perfect for companies with large annual revenues.
They tend to move a little slower due to the sheer size of the companies and client base they are working with, but they are good at bringing in large revenue for big companies while managing hundreds of quickly moving parts.
If a company has a revenue of over $50 million, a full-time CMO might be a good option as they are likely better prepared to do the job than someone who isn’t or can’t be involved regularly.
Outsourced: The Fractional CMO
We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about what a CMO is and does and why they are important. However, believe it or not, a full-time CMO is not always necessary or cost-effective.
Due to the size of the company, the product development stage, or even the stage of the actual strategy, a full-time CMO may actually hinder the success of a company’s marketing plan.
Fractional CMOs are contracted, part-time employees whose main purpose is to execute a specific marketing communications strategy.
This individual is someone outside of the company, which can cause trepidation for many CEOs and leadership teams. However, the pros of hiring a Fractional CMO are numerous.
For one, an outsider can have fresh perspectives and unbiased opinions that will ultimately benefit the marketing department and create a high ROI. They come with extensive training and experience in digital marketing, content creation, communication strategy, and more.
This position often works well remotely, which can save a company money when it comes to office space and equipment.
It also allows the company to work with people outside of their established network, bringing in fresh talent that can have long-term benefits with a broad range of expertise, insights, and helpful resources.
Finally, like a full-time, in-house CMO, a Fractional CMO can produce concrete results consistently.
It often makes more sense to hire a Fractional CMO in instances with lower budgets because companies know they’ll still be getting a high-quality person in the position that can help them achieve their goals.
And, if for whatever reason a company’s CEO, CFO, or COO, or even underlings don’t vibe with the Fractional CMO, it isn’t a big deal when the CMO’s contract is up because, before long, they will move on to a new position at a new company.
Chief Marketing Officer Job Description
A Chief Marketing Officer is generally responsible for developing and implementing a company’s product marketing strategies.
They are responsible for growing the business, driving sales, and increasing revenue. They do this by having extensive knowledge of brand management, sales, customer service, and content management.
As the leader of the marketing team, the CMO helps implement their chosen marketing strategies through effective leadership and excellent communication.
They delegate major projects and high-level concepts to the leaders and staff who are lower on the hierarchy.
Chief Marketing Officer Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of a CMO are numerous. However, as a general rule of thumb, the CMO can be expected to:
- Grow a company through planning and managing an effective marketing strategy
- Design marketing campaigns and demonstrate their effectiveness
- Manage the marketing department budget
- Determine Key Performance Indicators and report on them regularly
- Be comfortable with current market trends
- Oversee social media, website, advertising, and internal and external marketing initiatives
- Understand the target customer and cater communication to them to increase sales
- Stay on top of new technologies
- Work with and translate raw data to determine the success of marketing efforts
- Conduct market research
As a top leadership role, the CMO position requires specific qualifications. Most CMO’s have 10+ years of experience in a marketing role in addition to experience leading a successful team.
They also should have:
- A bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications, PR, or a related field
- A master’s degree in marketing and/or an MBA
- Understanding of digital marketing tools like SEO, SEM, and CRMs
- B2B and/or B2C marketing experience
- Demonstrated leadership and communication skills
- Fluent in current technologies, social media platforms, and software programs
- Be a creative thinker with a positive attitude and a collaborative spirit
CMO Pay and Structure
In the United States, the average CMO salary is $176,985. Years of experience is ultimately the deciding factor in CMOs’ compensation, but education level, industry, and the individual state also play a role.
For example, a CMO in the tech field might make closer to $247,241 per year.
According to Glassdoor, Fractional CMOs can expect to earn an average yearly salary of $167,877. Due to their part-time status, they naturally make a little less than full-time, in-house CMOS.
If paid by the hour, a Fractional CMO makes between $100 and $300 per hour.
Chief Marketing Officers with only a bachelor’s degree and 1+ years of experience in the role can expect to earn around $83,000. With an MBA or advanced degree, that number would likely increase to reflect the higher level of education.
A mid-to-late career CMO with 10+ years on the job would be compensated between $143,000 to $179,000. A CMO with 20+ years of experience in the role can see upwards of $199,000.
According to LinkedIn, there are almost 9,600 full-time CMO jobs available in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and more.
Fractional CMO roles are growing in the United States due to their lower cost, high level of expertise, and flexibility with smaller business sizes.
If you have marketing management experience and the appropriate educational background, as well as the desire for flexibility and to work with an abundance of people and employers, you may make a good Fractional CMO.
Take a look at our fractional marketing system which was built by CMOs and consider joining our team.
The role of a CMO is a rewarding, high-paying position that helps businesses succeed through their marketing, communication, and sales expertise.
While beneficial to the overall success of a company’s sales and marketing department, smaller companies may wish to consider a fractional CMO to save money while guaranteeing a high-quality service.