I have worked intimately with over 100 companies as CEO of DevHub Inc. In not less than 50% of the time “a new CMO,” at an existing client or potential lead ...is code for ALL STOP.
The new CMO would be responsible for product marketing to working with sales teams to developing content and supporting collateral for the overall organization.
With one customer the CMO was tasked with opening up a whole new market and defining the product set. The new CMO was ‘highly regarded,’ from their experience working at Google. Not less than a couple months into their job - ALL STOP. The CMO hired 2 people...one to lead product initiatives and the other as a gatekeeper to the actual CMO.
A little context might help here...DevHub’s technology is white labeled - all the way down to the source code. Most companies that deploy DevHub do so as an integral part of their actual business - whether that is delivering multiple websites for brands to small businesses or launching landing pages as an extension of their main offering i.e. search marketing, content marketing, channel marketing, co-op marketing, location marketing etc. DevHub fits in the middle of future growth; so we have a very unique perspective of how companies can and technically should scale.
Back to the CMO
After a year - not one new product launched besides a new corporate ‘look.’ Two years later a ‘new programmatic initiative’ stalled out. And without knowing the actual numbers I would professionally guess that any growth in the company was already based on the current business prior to the CMO joining.
So why the CMO? A new corporate look? Not on my watch.
Examples of potential CMO fails
- ‘The New CMO’...tasked with organizing the organization (have still not heard from them 9 months into the role).
- ‘The New CMO’...defining the product (9 months later nothing).
- ‘The New CMO’...chief evangelist (out after a year).
Observation and Potential Solution
The CMO role should be split up into two defined buckets - creative and data. The CMO title should drop the C-Level perceived status.
To be fair...we sometimes might not know the dynamic between CEO and CMO...but with the many parts (people) interacting with the DevHub technology ‘human frustration,’ bubbles up quickly i.e. the CMO needs to approve (fill in the blank).
As I wrote the 397 words above...I found this CMO article by the Harvard Business Review in which the authors spent eight years exploring why CMO hiring often goes off the track.
In the article from HBR most all of the sentiment experienced above is almost normal. The dynamics of a CMO in an organization is a result of the overall leadership (in most cases).
You be the judge.
This article was written by DevHub's co-Founder Mark Michael.