The CMO Role: Building Brand Strategy to Drive Business Impact

Key Insights: What to Know About the CMO! 🌐

  • CMOs are Now Strategic Powerhouses. The role of the CMO has evolved beyond branding and advertising to become a pivotal player in driving business growth and leveraging data. They are now seen as the voice of the customer within the C-suite, requiring them to expand their skills and responsibilities across various domains, including technology adoption and consumer behavior analysis.
  • Embracing Technological Advancements is Crucial. With the rise of analytics, AI, and automated marketing, CMOs must fully embrace technology to extract valuable insights and optimize campaigns. The reliance on data and testing has become indispensable, moving from intuition-based decision-making to a more data-driven approach.
  • Agility and Flexibility in Strategy are Vital. CMOs must be agile and flexible, adapting to rapidly shifting consumer trends and competitive landscapes. This involves continuously re-evaluating and tweaking strategies to remain relevant and cater to the ever-changing preferences of audiences across various digital platforms.
  • Balancing Brand Legacy and Relevance. CMOs must maintain the brand’s heritage and values while evolving messaging to drive growth and stay relevant. This involves analyzing data and cultural trends to inform strategy, ensuring the brand remains familiar and fresh to the audience.
  • Data is a Competitive Advantage, but Confidence is Lacking. While 91% of marketers with direct access to customer data believe it provides a competitive advantage, only 26% of marketing leaders are very confident in their data, analytics, and insights platforms. The rapid detection of market and consumer behavior shifts and the ability to adjust accordingly are pivotal.
  • The CMO Balancing Act: Navigating Growth, Relevance, and Agility The CMO role has transformed significantly, requiring a delicate balancing act to navigate through rapid technological and societal shifts. CMOs are now tasked with managing complex new realities, such as fluctuating consumer behaviors, competitive environments, and privacy trends. This involves embracing agility, focusing on value, and quantifying impact while diversifying roles to support organizational needs, thus ensuring that marketing aligns with overarching business goals amidst turbulence.
  • High-Velocity Data Marketing is Central but Challenging. High-velocity data marketing, which involves using data at speed to gain a competitive advantage, is crucial for CMOs. However, achieving it is often hampered by various factors, including insufficient technology, data control issues, and data management processes. Balancing intuition and intellect and effectively adopting AI and machine learning are key to navigating these challenges.

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role has dramatically evolved in recent years. No longer is the CMO simply a steward of branding, communications, and advertising. Today’s CMOs are strategic powerhouses tasked with driving growth, harnessing data, and serving as the voice of the customer in the C-suite.

CMOs must expand their skillsets and responsibilities across multiple domains. Key drivers spurring this change include advancing technologies, dynamic market trends, and evolving consumer behaviors. As a result, the CMO role now demands sharp analytical abilities, visionary leadership, and executive influence.

What is a Chief Marketing Officer?

The responsibilities of a Chief Marketing Officer now extend far beyond traditional branding, communications, and advertising. Where CMOs were once primarily focused on driving brand awareness and engagement, the position has transformed dramatically in recent years. Several key factors fuel this evolution:

  • Advancing Technology – With the rise of analytics, AI, automated marketing, and sophisticated data collection tools, CMOs must embrace technology to extract insights and optimize campaigns. No longer can marketing leaders rely solely on intuition and past experiences; data and testing are now indispensable. Leading organizations expect CMOs to leverage technology to improve performance across channels.
  • Market Trends – Consumer trends and competitive landscapes shift rapidly in the modern era. CMOs must stay on the pulse of market conditions and re-evaluate strategies frequently to remain relevant. Agility and flexibility are crucial when catering to fickle audiences across digital platforms.
  • Evolving Consumer Behavior – Customers today demand personalized, omni-channel experiences. CMOs must cater campaigns and messaging to unique buyer journeys that vary by demographic, psychographic, and geographic segments. Understanding nuanced consumer habits through advanced analytics is key.

With these new complexities and responsibilities, the CMO role requires sharp analytical abilities, strategic vision, and executive leadership skills. Simply having creative flair and branding savvy is no longer enough. The modern CMO must go beyond communications to become a growth driver and voice of the customer within the C-suite. By leveraging data, connecting insights to strategy, and guiding organizations to meet shifting consumer needs, today’s CMOs deliver tangible business impact.

The Diverse Responsibilities of Today’s CMOs

Modern CMOs wear many hats that extend far beyond communications and branding. To drive business growth, CMOs must oversee various strategic and operational responsibilities. This requires a skillset equal parts analytical, creative, and leadership-oriented.

CMO TaskDescription
Lead Brand StrategyCraft compelling messaging and experiences that strengthen brand affinity and growth. Analyze data and trends to inform creative strategy.
CMO Strategies to Drive SalesDevelop targeted campaigns and partnerships to capture interest and increase conversions. Identify opportunities to reduce friction and optimize funnel performance.
Building an Agile Marketing OrgRecruit talent across specializations. Promote collaboration and implement training to maximize team productivity.
Manage Agency RelationshipsIdentify skill gaps. Vet and hire specialty agencies. Oversee collaboration and align on expectations. Evaluate performance.
Review Campaign IdeasApprove proposed ideas that align with goals and insights. Mitigate risks. Guide innovation and strategy.

Leading Brand Strategy and Messaging

CMOs must nurture emotional connections while evolving messaging to drive growth. This balancing act requires analyzing data and cultural trends to inform strategy while never losing sight of the brand’s essence.

At its foundation, a CMO must have an intimate understanding of the brand’s heritage, values, and differentiators in the market. What experiences and narratives truly resonate with target audiences? What makes the brand special in the hearts and minds of customers? CMOs safeguard this legacy.


Direct access to customer data is seen as a competitive advantage by 91% of CMOs and marketers.

However, brand guardians cannot simply rely on the comfort of past formulas in today’s rapidly changing landscape. CMOs must interpret insights from audience analytics, campaign performance, and market research to identify opportunities to strengthen engagement. Trends like sustainability and inclusivity now influence brand sentiment and require thoughtful incorporation.

With these inputs, CMOs chart the brand’s course through integrated strategies. They develop unified messaging frameworks and creative concepts that balance fresh appeal with familiarity. CMOs also oversee execution across media channels and partners, ensuring consistency.

Of course, CMOs must measure results and monitor shifts in brand health metrics like awareness, consideration, and affinity. These insights then feed back into honing strategies and creative. By leveraging data to inform decisions, CMOs can elevate emotional resonance while driving growth.

The modern CMO role demands an appreciation for brand legacy and the vision to advance relevance. It is a complex balancing act but an exhilarating one.

CMO Strategies to Drive Sales

While brand building establishes a strong foundation, CMOs must also employ targeted strategies to impact revenue and sales directly. This requires identifying and activating the most effective marketing tactics and partnerships to capture interest and drive conversions.

For B2B brands, generating a steady stream of qualified leads is imperative. CMOs develop insightful content and experiences that attract key decision-makers and capture contact information. Account-based tactics that focus on high-value targets also produce results. Smart PR and events highlighting thought leadership can further engage potential big accounts.

On the B2C front, CMOs analyze customer journeys to reduce friction at each stage, from consideration to purchase and retention. Partnerships with influencers introduce brands to new communities in an authentic way. Promotional initiatives around peak buying seasons or events incentivize sales.

Regardless of the business model, data is indispensable for CMOs seeking to increase revenue. Analyzing campaign performance, web traffic trends, and sales cycle stages guide smarter optimization. Testing into new platforms and audiences also reveals untapped potential.

With an analytics-driven mindset and effective partnerships, CMOs can develop the right strategies to grow the bottom line through marketing.

Architecting an Agile Marketing Organization

CMOs must architect streamlined yet agile marketing organizations. This starts with defining coherent structures and processes aligned with business goals. CMOs also recruit specialized talent across digital, social, and content channels. With multiple internal teams and external agencies in the mix, CMOs oversee collaboration and ensure cohesiveness.


Only 26% of marketing leaders are confident in their data and analytics platforms.

Hiring analytics-minded professionals helps inject data thinking. CMOs also implement training programs and learning opportunities to sharpen desired skills. Especially in periods of rapid change, upskilling helps marketing teams adapt.

By organizing cross-functional teams, instituting efficient workflows, and developing talent, CMOs build marketing machines designed for maximum impact.

Managing Agency Relationships

Even large in-house teams cannot satisfy every marketing need. CMOs wisely tap specialized external partners to complement internal capabilities. This involves identifying skill gaps, vetting agencies, negotiating contracts, and managing ongoing relationships.

CMOs hire creative, media, and digital agencies to scale bandwidth and access niche expertise like performance marketing, video production, or research. Aligning expectations, budgets, KPIs, and processes is crucial during onboarding.

Ongoing, CMOs must foster collaboration between internal and external teams. This means communicating goals, providing constructive feedback, and integrating workstreams. CMOs also continuously evaluate agency performance and alignment to determine renewal or replacement.

Nimble organizations assemble best-in-class rosters of marketing partners. By managing relationships, contracts, and deliverables, CMOs integrate external capabilities to drive impact beyond what internal resources allow.

Guiding Innovation and Campaign Strategy

CMOs rely on their teams to develop pioneering ideas, but ultimately, campaign approval lands on the CMO’s shoulders. This responsibility requires balancing visionary thinking with pragmatism.

CMOs greenlight ideas that align with overarching brand and business goals. Proposed campaigns must be grounded in audience and market insights. Resource requirements and ROI projections also factor into decision-making.


48% of marketing leaders emphasize the importance of balancing data intellect with human intuition.

While big swings seem exciting, CMOs must mitigate risk. Rigorous testing and optimization are favored over one-shot gambles. CMOs know when to trust their intuition to invest in something groundbreaking.

By providing guardrails and oversight, CMOs guide innovation that moves the needle. Campaign approvals should motivate teams to push boundaries while ensuring strategic alignment.

Let me know if you want me to modify this section. I aimed to summarize the CMO’s role in evaluating and approving proposed campaign ideas.

What is a Fractional CMO?

The Fractional CMO Model is new. Not every company requires or can justify a full-time CMO. Fractional CMOs offer an alternative solution. These on-demand marketing leaders work part-time or on projects for multiple clients.

Fractional CMOs have the expertise to handle strategic planning, campaign management, and team leadership without requiring a salaried executive position. This structure provides flexibility for small brands or those with fluctuating needs.

The model allows access to high-caliber talent at a fraction of the cost. Fractional CMOs also bring outside perspectives derived from diverse industry experience. For niche skills like digital adoption, fractional roles bridge capability gaps.

While not a fit for every situation, fractional CMOs give growing brands affordable access to marketing leadership. Tapping this on-demand talent optimizes resources and support.

The CMO Balancing Act: Growth, Relevance, and Agility

The CMO Balancing Act: Growth, Relevance, and Agility

The CMO role today appears lightyears removed from even three decades prior. Rapid technological and societal shifts have introduced complex new realities. As stewards of the customer, CMOs now navigate choppy waters marked by fickle consumer behaviors, cutthroat competition, influencer disintermediation, and tumultuous privacy trends.

Unsurprisingly, CMO tenure has suffered amid these headwinds. In 2020, the average stint length for CMOs plummeted to just 40 months. Status quo strategies no longer suffice to drive growth and relevance. Aligning marketing with overarching business goals is imperative.

To aid navigation, eMarketer outlines three vital initiatives for CMOs: embracing agility, focusing on value, and quantifying impact. Roles also diversify based on where organizations most need support. eMarketer identifies five CMO archetypes accordingly:

  • Strategy-Focused
  • Revenue-Focused
  • Brand-Focused
  • Engagement-Focused
  • Experience-Focused

Each archetype balances a mix of strategic and tactical strengths. Ultimately, CMOs must customize their approach to suit unique business challenges in this age of turbulence.

How is the CMO role evolving?

This video of Chris Ross, VP at Gartner, spotlights the radical reshaping of the CMO role in recent years. The position has advanced beyond a functional marketing scope into a broader customer leadership mandate.


Achieving high-velocity data marketing remains a significant challenge for many CMOs, with real-time insights and predictive analysis often out of reach.

According to the experts, CMOs now operate as central stewards of the customer experience. They must champion an outside-in perspective that aligns strategies to marketplace dynamics, consumer behaviors, and the competitive landscape.

This evolving role also entails pivoting from customer acquisition to lifetime value focus. Growth stems not just from new sales but from nurturing enduring brand love.

To survive, CMOs must grasp the full business, not just marketing. Strong partnerships with the CEO and C-suite drive unified action. Still, inflated expectations around the CMO role persist, presenting navigation challenges.

The video makes clear today’s CMOs must wear many hats to fulfill the promise of becoming true customer champions. Requirements span analytics, leadership, and vision.

What’s Top of Mind for CMOs?

Short answer. Data.

High-velocity data marketing is the language of modern data marketers. According to a 2022 CMO Council Report, 91% of marketers with direct access to customer data say it provides them a competitive advantage. However, the difference between top and bottom performers comes down to speed. How quickly do you detect market and consumer behavior shifts and adjust accordingly? I can relate. Speed to insight is a primary factor for me when evaluating data partners.

An image of the following statistics: 91% of CMOs with direct access to customer data say it provides them with a competitive advantage.

Analytics for the Chief Marketing Officer is a priority, but they’re not confident. While all top-performing marketers agree that access to consumer data gives them a competitive advantage, only 26% of the 300 marketing leaders in the survey reported being very confident in their data, analytics, and insights platforms.

Data currently drive the marketing world, given that actionable data insights are the source of the primary marketing KPIs, including conversion, content response, acquisition, and repeat purchase rate. In addition, the actionable insights from the data enable you to keep your finger on the pulse and adjust where necessary to hit your revenue targets.

Critical consumer data, such as buyer intent data signals, can help you map the shopper’s journey and identify where they are to provide the right content at the right time. In addition, consumer data gives you valuable insights that enable you to create content that will resonate with your target audience.

The CMO’s job is to measure data marketing performance using several KPIs, including consumer market insights, advertising performance metrics, customer lifetime value, and more. Content response, conversion, and advertising performance metrics should be at the top of the list of metrics to improve KPIs.

Translating Data Into Action

The most mature marketing data capability has been customer segmentation and targeting. However, top performers’ data marketing maturity curve has shifted to generating actionable data insights. Both are important.

Every marketer in the industry relies on similar data sets for their segmentation and targeting, so where’s the competitive advantage? Top performers not only generate real-time insights that enable them to identify shifts in the market and consumer behavior, but they’re also the first to act on these insights and adapt to the changes.

Data systems and processes should be built for speed and action, enabling you to make sense of the data signals and generate actionable insights. Your aim should narrow the gap between gathering relevant data and generating insights.

The noise across digital channels grows louder, so finding relevant data signals is the challenge. The ultimate goal is to turn this data into insights that will help improve customer experience through personalization. According to research by McKinsey, 71% of consumers now expect organizations to provide customized interactions, and 76% get discouraged when this doesn’t happen.

Still, high-velocity data marketing remains largely out of reach for many CMOs. According to the CMO Council report, the top two data capabilities still out of reach for marketers are real-time availability of insights (42%) and predictive analysis (40%). As a result, CMOs still struggle with the time needed to extract relevant data, generate actionable insights from the signals, and make the insights available to marketers, all to create a meaningful experience for a customer.

The Challenge of Data Blockers

Many factors contribute to high-velocity data marketing being a dream for many Chief Marketing Officers. These factors include insufficient technology, data control, data management processes, system silos, and skills shortage.

The need for more predictive analytics and the demand for higher data speeds have increased exponentially over the past couple of years. Marketers need the right tools, but choosing from the thousands of available solutions is another challenge.

You need a deep understanding of the data supply chain to improve data management. Your organization should create an efficient data ecosystem to support data integration in real-time to improve speed.

Lack of data control is a significant data blocker. If your data control lies in IT or a third party’s hands, data insights take much longer to reach the marketers who need them. A strong alignment between CMOs and CIOs can effectively help overcome data blockers.

How Adaptable Are Your Data Systems?

Our world is full of sudden disruptions, so adaptability and agility are crucial to high-velocity data marketing success now more than ever. Data systems should be agile enough to accept new data sources and make interconnections without slowing down the production of outputs. The system should also be flexible enough to answer all business-critical questions.

  • How accessible are the insights from your data systems?
  • These insights are helpful to different people in the company at other times.
  • How easily can they access the data and insights for decision-making?

You should use these metrics to test the agility and adaptability of your data systems.

Intuition and Intellect in Data Marketing

While data is at the center of high-velocity data marketing, the success of strategies depends heavily on the intuition and intellect of the marketers. Even the most relevant, up-to-date data insights are useless if you do not have people to make sense of the numbers and develop strategies to put the insights to work. According to 48% of marketing leaders, the key to success is balancing intuition and intellect.

An image of CMO insights: Intuition and intellect is critical when contextualizing data when uncovering actionable insights.

A significant goal for marketers today is to create meaningful connections with their consumers to increase customer loyalty, mainly driven by human emotion. Your job is to use data intellect and human intuition to create personalized customer interactions across the full omnichannel experience.

Even in data-driven marketing, creativity is still vital. Data analytics can creatively create new customer experiences, campaigns, and even new products. Striking a balance between intuition and intellect enables you to combine both strengths and maximize your insights’ effectiveness to drive revenue growth.

The Role of AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning is the underlying technology that makes high-velocity data marketing possible. As a result, AI is at the forefront of digital transformation, with AI adoption rising steadily across various industries. According to a McKinsey report, the AI adoption rate in emerging economies rose to 57% in 2021, up from 45% in 2020.

AI can improve critical marketing functions, including targeting, personalization, campaign buying, and more. AI solutions continue to evolve every day with improved capabilities. With AI, you can manage a lot of data quickly and effectively.

CMOs can make the most of AI by partnering with IT. While marketers use data-driven tools, they may not fully understand the nuances of these tools, and this is where IT comes in. An effective relationship between marketing and IT is the key to adopting AI successfully.

High-velocity data marketing is only possible with the right data ecosystem in place. This includes data control, agility, and flexibility. Additionally, success depends on the marketers’ ability to balance intuition and intellect. Finally, AI is a critical technology for driving a high-velocity digital marketing strategy and analytics for the CMO.


What is a CMO?

A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a role that has evolved into a strategic powerhouse, responsible not only for branding, communications, and advertising but also for driving growth, harnessing data, and serving as the voice of the customer in the C-suite. The role demands analytical abilities, visionary leadership, and executive influence.

What does a CMO actually do?

A CMO oversees various strategic and operational responsibilities to drive business growth, which includes leading brand strategy, developing strategies to drive sales, building an agile marketing organization, managing agency relationships, and guiding innovation and campaign strategy. They leverage technology, analyze data and market trends, and cater campaigns to unique buyer journeys.

What does a fractional CMO do?

A fractional CMO works part-time or on specific projects for multiple clients, providing strategic planning, campaign management, and team leadership without requiring a full-time, salaried executive position. This model allows companies to access high-caliber talent at a fraction of the cost and brings outside perspectives from diverse industry experiences.

How has the role of the CMO evolved in recent years?

The role of the CMO has dramatically evolved to be a steward of branding and a strategic leader tasked with driving growth, utilizing advancing technologies, adapting to dynamic market trends, and evolving consumer behaviors. Modern CMOs require sharp analytical abilities, visionary leadership, and executive influence, going beyond communications to become a growth driver and voice of the customer within the C-suite.

What is high-velocity data marketing and why is it crucial for CMOs?

High-velocity data marketing involves using data at speed to gain a competitive advantage, with 91% of marketers with direct access to customer data saying it provides such an advantage. The key difference between top and bottom performers in this area is the speed at which they can detect market and consumer behavior shifts and adjust accordingly. Data, especially actionable insights, are central to primary marketing KPIs, including conversion, content response, acquisition, and repeat purchase rate.

How do CMOs utilize AI and machine learning in marketing?

AI and machine learning are pivotal in enabling high-velocity data marketing and improving critical marketing functions like targeting, personalization, and campaign buying. AI solutions, which are continually evolving, allow CMOs to manage vast amounts of data quickly and effectively. Successful adoption of AI in marketing often involves a strong partnership between CMOs and IT to understand and utilize data-driven tools fully.

What challenges do CMOs face in marketing?

CMOs face challenges in high-velocity data marketing, including insufficient technology, data control, data management processes, system silos, and a skills shortage. They often struggle with the time needed to extract relevant data, generate actionable insights from the signals, and make the insights available to marketers to create a meaningful experience for a customer. Lack of data control and the need for more predictive analytics and higher data speeds have also been highlighted as significant data blockers.

What does an outsourced CMO do? A

An outsourced CMO typically provides marketing expertise to organizations on a contract basis. This might involve developing marketing strategies, overseeing marketing campaigns, providing insights into market trends, and ensuring that the marketing efforts align with the business’s strategic goals. Outsourced CMOs might work with companies that do not have in-house marketing expertise or with businesses that need additional expertise on a temporary or project basis. They can help with brand development, digital marketing, advertising, and other marketing-related activities without being a full-time, in-house resource.

Is a CMO higher than a CEO?

No, a CMO is not higher than a CEO in a typical organizational hierarchy. The CEO is generally considered the highest-ranking officer in an organization and has responsibility for the entire company and its operations. While a crucial executive team member, the CMO typically oversees the marketing department and related activities and reports to the CEO or, in some structures, to the COO. Different organizations might have varying structures, but traditionally, the CEO is at the top of the organizational chart.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.