May 29, 2012 Leave a comment
The average tenure of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has been declining for years and up until recently was showing an average 22 months. Now there is circumstantial evidence that social media may be the turnaround tool needed to provide more CMO stability.
The CMO position holds primary responsibility for revenue, therefore it’s commonly held that the CMO is the first sacrifice when shareholders want to punish poor returns. But this belief is like a red herring to the back story highlighted by Ad Age’s Paul Dunay as he discusses the tenure challenge.
Dunary identifies that much of the problem is the inability to get timely feedback on deployed marketing efforts. The need for timely research feedback that allows for tweaking and retweaking has long thwarted even the best marketers.
Enter social media. And enter an uptick in CMO tenure. Dunay identifies an upward CMO tenure trend reflected in a recent SpencerStuart study pegging the average time to 28 months. A jump from 22 to 28 months! Coincidence? I think not!
Allison Fine on the HBR blog notes that “According to a Booz & Company/Buddy Media survey released last October of more than 100 large companies, only a third have a senior executive charged with overseeing social media. And just over a third (38%) reported social media as a CEO-level agenda item.” It may be that 1/3 represents the tipping point for CMO longevity. The ability to participate in an immediate conversation with consumers in a 24/7 social media world provides much-needed timely feedback that allows for marketing strategy adjustment.
Although social media is still struggling against the boardroom “bah humbugs” – it is clearly growing in respect. And along with it, CMO tenure.