What makes a CMO… a CMO?
A short take on what the CMO role is versus any other Marketing role within an organization — Manager, Director, Head of, VP, etc.
What makes someone a CMO? at which point do I say I’m doing CMO work? these questions popped up in my feed and workspaces lots of time. And the truth is I heard it countless times as well.
There are dozens of people asking me what should they do to get a promotion, to create strategies, to make it at the decisions’ table — and the question is always around the title they should aim for, the one missing skill, or the books I recommend.
And there is no recipe for it: there is no go-to-book to give you all the knowledge you need within an organization, there is no one skill to make you ace it like a mother fucker, and there is no shortcut. I wrote about the needed skills of a marketer, in the past and never mentioned any title, just some skills to kick it off. Because the titles… well, they are just titles. As a matter of. fact, some companies really do not care and they are just like: what title would you like to have?
So what is a CMO? Or when is the time to say you do the C-level work?
Now, there are the full-stack marketers who are quite T-shaped and do a bit of everything: copywriting, social media, ads, newsletters, landing pages, SEO, etc. And most of them will aspire to get that title. Which makes sense, in a way. They do A LOT of work!
My career path was quite a journey as well: ghostwriter, copywriter, social media manager, content manager, PR manager, full-stack marketer, strategist, product marketer, CMO. And the entire journey gives you a good grasp of all the work, so you can place everything in one big strategy or direction that makes your company go big.
CMOs are at the management table and discuss the business direction as well — revenue, new services, growth, ups and downs for pretty much everything.
So While they lead all the marketing efforts, they also get involved across departments when/if needed and have a say for the entire org plans and then adapt the marketing efforts accordingly.
No matter if you are a team of two, 11, or 40, the role is defined by the impact your work has within the company: management, team engagement, talent development, cross-collaboration within the organization departments, C-Suite collaboration, profit & loss responsibility, and everything in between to ensure growth.
Of course, some companies are giving you the C-title just for the sake of it, but you only get involved in the marketing efforts and everything else is a secret — this is just a Head of role in reality and the company just wants to have big titles on the site or to keep you because you are an asset and for some, the title is something important.
At the end of the day, a title is just a title and what you learn from your work and how you use what you’ve learned is the most important takeaway. Titles change over time, each organization has a different meaning for a title and a different expectation, and this will keep changing.
So, do not aim for a title, but for ownership and high-impact responsibilities.
You do not need a title to prove what you are worth! it really comes down to the work you do, if you are happy with your results and impact and if you get the recognition for it (this can be the salary, benefits, words of affirmation — whatever works for you).