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What is a CMO?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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A chief marketing officer, or CMO, oversees the entire marketing operation of a company or organization and is usually one of the members of the executive team. Though the job of the CMO may seem quite limited, it often incorporates an array of marketing strategies and the assessment that comes along with those strategies.

A CMO's primary duties include responsibility for, and oversight of, advertising, brand awareness and public relations. A CMO may also be charged with identifying partnerships that could benefit the company and even engage in some dual marketing efforts in which both companies are promoted.

These partnerships often occur between companies that are related, or at least have some of the same customers, but are not directly in competition with each other. In popular culture, one example is children's meals at fast food restaurants. Often, movie studios and entertainment companies will collaborate with fast food restaurants to promote both brands. Though some associations may not be quite as obvious, a good CMO will be able to recognize these opportunities.

Assessment is another major part of a CMO's job. With any executive, they must keep track of which strategies are working and be flexible enough to make adjustments as quickly as possible. Due to this part of the job, many CMOs not only have a fair amount of education in marketing principles, but statistics as well.

Education and experience are both important considerations when companies are looking for a CMO. Though it may depend on the size of the company, a common requirement is at least 10 years of experience, with increasing levels of responsibility. Typically, a graduate degree is also a requirement.

This education and experience is often rewarded with a handsome salary. It is not uncommon for a CMO to earn well into the six figures. Recent advertisements of companies seeking a CMO list salaries of $300,000 or more.

However, with high salaries come even higher expectations. Business Week reports that the average stay for a CMO is 26 months. The rest of the executive team expects the CMO to produce nearly instantaneous results. Sometimes, those expectations may not be possible. Building a brand requires a great deal of patience, but with the amount of money often spent on marketing campaigns, patience is not a common quality.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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