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How to be a CMO when it's not your job

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Are you a non-marketer CEO, COO or BD Director with marketing responsibility? Then this article is for you.

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) numbers rise year-on-year, yet the position is still a rarity on B2B boards.

At large, traditional, non-FMCG organisations, marketing rarely has a seat at the proverbial table, but it almost always has a voice…

The ‘part-time’ CMO

Many of the individuals I work with - CEOs, CIOs, COOs, Commercial Directors and HR Directors – act as the executive sponsor for marketing on their boards, without having a marketing background themselves.

This throws up a whole load of challenges for the non-marketer and so I have put together this guide to being a CMO, when it’s not your job.

How to be a CMO when it’s not your job

1. Evangelise the value

Marketing is a broad strategic discipline that requires investment and board-level support to get right.

As executive sponsor, it is your role to convince the rest of the board of this by reiterating what marketing can do.

An effective marketing function will shape organisations, articulate goals, connect to clients and be the driving force behind creating bankable new services, based on what customers really want.

So, whether you have your commercial, financial or operational hat on, be sure you are always wearing your marketing boots too!

2. Bring your data A-game

For a true 360 picture, the key is to A) choose meaningful metrics that align with your business priorities and B) to integrate data sources and present them in a simple, visual format.

Effective board-level marketing dashboards provide critical insights needed to foresee potential communication crises, drive brand equity, horizon scan for new opportunities and execute them strategically in a way that customers will respond to.


3. Recognise the opportunity

In overseeing the marketing function, you are effectively holding together client account management, internal communications, investor relations, business strategy and more.

So, it is good news that boards are increasingly turning to marketers when it comes to filling the top job. A recent study by Spencer Stuart showed 21% of all FTSE 100 CEOs are now coming from a sales or marketing background.

Make the most of having marketing as part of your portfolio.

4. Build a high-performing team around you

To build a highly effective marketing department, it is important you articulate the team mission, seed innovation, hire by skill not qualification and align an agile operating model to your priority channels.

Here's how:

5. Share your insight

In the same way that working with marketers can propel your boardroom career, your mentorship will do the same for a marketer.

Marketing still has an image problem in the B2B boardroom.

Coach your senior marketers by sharing appropriate business updates, encouraging them to present board papers, sharing or handing over commercial decisions and giving honest and open feedback on what does and doesn’t work in the boardroom.

Need some strategic help? In-between marketing directors or never considered engaging one? Connect with me today.

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