How Top CMOs Change Their Brands’ Trajectories | CMO Recruiters | Top CMO Search Firm

      How Top CMOs Change Their Brands’ Trajectories

      Although the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) has existed only for approximately 30 years, the job descriptions of modern CMOs are starkly different than those of professionals in the 1990s. 

      The CMOs of the most recent generation certainly provide their brands with world-class expertise and a prowess for increasing online visibility, but now they have also become influencers in their own right. 

      A great CMO can have a significant impact on a brand’s overall trajectory. While one would assume that the most influential CMOs would represent the brands with the greatest visibility, this is not always the case. At times:

      • Highly influential chief marketing officers may represent brands that have smaller followings than the CMOs do individually.
      • Other CMOs might have followings that are significantly smaller than the brands they represent. 

      Still, every member of the upper echelon of CMOs is a true difference maker for the company they serve. They have the ability to help their brands break into new markets, expand their share in existing ones, and achieve a previously unreached level of competitiveness. 

      Below, we explore some statistics about the world’s most influential CMOs and the brands they represent. 

      Unless otherwise noted, the statistics referenced here were retrieved from the 2022 Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs List. For each of the last ten years, Forbes has published this annual list in order to recognize the very best CMOs and the brands they represent. 

      Key Attributes of a Tier-One CMO

      While each of the top CMOs possesses a unique set of skills, abilities, talents, and life experiences, all of them share some common attributes. The following are four examples.

      A Data-Driven Mindset

      Analyzing the efficacy of marketing campaigns is by no means a new concept. For years, CMOs and their teams have leveraged data analysis techniques in order to measure the effectiveness of their brand-building efforts. 

      However, the rapid evolution of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies has set the stage for far more robust data analysis. Therefore, CMOs must be proficient at analyzing, interpreting, and using big data.

      The best CMOs seamlessly combine their intuition and business sense with actionable business intelligence to guide decision-making processes. By trusting the data, CMOs can capitalize on any emerging market opportunities and grow their brands.

      A Good Mix of Traditional and Modern Skills

      While the role of CMOs has certainly evolved in the last decade, chief marketing officers must still possess many of the traditional skills that their 1990s counterparts leveraged to build brands. A few examples of must-have traditional skills include an understanding of:

      • Advertising
      • Brand storytelling
      • Audience segmentation
      • Consumer targeting

      The upper echelon of CMOs has found a way to intermingle these traditional skill sets with modern ones, such as managing remote employees, collaborating via modern technology platforms, and more. 

      A Nose for Digital Transformation

      Healthcare CMOs, tech CMOs, private equity CMOs, and CMOs in any other industry operate within, they are facing an ever-increasing amount of competition. In order to help their brands stay relevant in the modern marketplace, CMOs must constantly seek out ways to become more efficient and optimize user engagement. 

      Specifically, CMOs must be well versed in leading-edge technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence software. They should not only have a strong working understanding of these technologies but also know how to incorporate them into their marketing efforts. 

      Dynamic Leadership Skills

      As you are undoubtedly well aware, CMOs are no longer confined to the marketing department. Now, they interact with departments and teams across the entire organization. 

      As a result, CMOs must possess a dynamic array of leadership skills. They also need to be fluent in the “voice of the people” to a high degree so that they can convey the needs of your target audience to other teams across the organization. 

      Top CMO Facts and Figures

      Perhaps the most astounding data found in the 2022 Forbes CMO list is the seemingly inconsistent correlation between a chief marketing officer’s volume of attention and the amount of visibility they garner for their brand. 

      While the amount of attention that a brand earns should positively correlate with the volume of attention that its CMO receives, this was not the case.

      For instance, the two CMOs who garnered the highest amount of attention did not generate the largest volume of brand recognition. For context, these two CMOs earned approximately 3,700 to 4,000 mentions/interactions. Their brands received roughly 155,000 social media messages. 

      The two highest-performing CMOs earned approximately 1,000 mentions/interactions via their personal accounts. While garnering significantly less attention than the two aforementioned CMOs, the brands that these top performers represent received just under 250,000 social media messages during the monitoring period. 

      In the Forbes list, CMO attention was calculated using the cumulative total of online mentions, social media mentions, and news pieces that referenced the chief marketing officer. When calculating brands’ attention volume, Forbes exclusively considered the organizations’ volume of social media messages. 

      Why the Importance of CMOs Cannot Be Overstated

      Despite the apparent inconsistencies in the above data set, it is impossible to overstate the value that a world-class CMO can provide to the brand they represent. Additionally, it is important to mention that the Forbes chart examined only a single type of brand attention (social media messages) and several types of CMO mentions/interactions. 

      Therefore, the aforementioned statistics should be considered only a demonstration of the vital role that CMOs play in building brands. It should not be used to detract from the importance of a CMO’s personal visibility on social platforms.

      When evaluating potential CMO candidates, organizations should focus primarily on the merits of each applicant’s portfolio. They should analyze the individual’s past roles, examine the results that they produced, and screen for the critical skills discussed above. 

      By approaching the hiring process for this mission-critical position with a mindset oriented to data and results, organizational decision makers can identify the candidate who is the optimal fit for their business, brand values, and goals.


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