Key Pointers for Aspiring Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs)

Are you an aspiring Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)? Or you know one who is planning to step up his career? Or maybe you are here for academic purposes.

Well, whatever your reason is, I can assure you one thing — in this article, you will learn the essential points of an influential CMO, including the responsibilities, duties, traits, and finding your spot in the said industry.

What Does a Chief Marketing Officer Do?

The chief marketing officer, better known as CMO, is a high-level corporate position tasked with overseeing and managing marketing efforts. As one of the executives, CMO also keeps an eye on interconnected relationships around the company departments directly affiliated in the marketing section, such as sales, administrative, production, distribution, and customer satisfaction.

Digging deeper, the officer-in-charge in marketing is responsible for improving sales growth, efficiency, and selling strategies by well-coordinated efforts. Sounds complicated? Well, yeah. CMOs work with other C-suite level individuals, after all. I’ll have you know that the responsibilities of the top-management are more than just signing documents. 

However, it does not necessarily mean you should be worried about its work difficulty. There are numerous points and peaks CMO has, which can delight and inspire you even more.

First, let us discuss one of the most important aspects we look upon before applying for the job– salary. In the United States, the average wage of CMOs is $171,571. This value does not include commissions, revenue sharing, and bonuses, yet. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that a CMO can rake in $244,766. That is five times more than the average salaries in the country!

The six-figure income is hard to resist. Take note that CMO’s salaries reflect the efforts needed to execute their designated task. The saying “high risk, return” may not apply for some, but it does for CMO. 

Some responsibilities of being a marketing executive are beneficial in developing your professional and personal life. This corporate role hones one’s skills and creativity in so many ways, which takes up to the point of mastering what is best for the company and what is best for yourself. 

So, in the following paragraphs, I’ll give you the lowdown on how to become a CMO. If you’re gunning for the position, this article can give you a headstart. But I still recommend everyone read it, even if you’re not interested in becoming a CMO. You can learn a thing or two to improve your performance at work.

What are the steps to becoming a CMO?

Have an Aligned Education

Your educational background, just like what most jobs existing in the middle to top management requires, can directly affect the flow of your journey. Becoming a CMO may require a bare minimum of at least a bachelor’s degree in the related field. It may be in business administration, economics, marketing, or interactions.

These educational programs inject one with knowledge foundations essential in executing the marketing executive’s roles. Also, most companies consider these educational attainments a significant bonus, if not a qualification, that can put you in front of the line.

However, note that even if you have a bachelor’s degree, it does not necessarily mean getting the CMO position will be a walk in the park. It takes more time and effort. But having one indicates that you will be able to experience the job roles that CMOs handle.

Knowing the work chain’s environment and processes, the marketing executive usually provides you the advantage of seeing how things work. So, keep in mind that starting small is not a bad thing at all; in fact, small steps are the ones that produce significant results.

On the one hand, you can further step your educational background even higher by taking specializations in Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in marketing, which can bring you more benefits, particularly in marketing knowledge (which is what the job is all about).

Along the journey of getting a master’s degree, you will also expose yourself to multiple marketing theories and strategies centered on efficiently utilizing its resources.

But, even if gaining advanced knowledge in marketing makes you desirable for most companies, it will not always be the case. Why? Because some companies are eyeing for an applicant that is more experienced. 

Instead of someone with theoretical know-how, some companies will instead go for experienced candidates who have worked tremendously hard for years.

So, what I am saying is an MBA degree, which you worked hard for, can’t guarantee that you’ll be as competent as the chief marketing officer role needs. Once you get the job, perform the responsibilities efficiently and harmoniously. That is it.

But if you choose the path of taking small steps (through a promotion), I advise you to be consistent and persistent. For sure, along with the changes in corporate positions, you would learn about the marketing strategies and imperatives of supervision.

Accumulate the Right Experiences (in marketing)

From attaining the aligned educational background for the chief marketing officer position, let us now move on to determining the appropriate industry or environment for you. Yes, there are distinctive environments that influence CMO’s roles. You can also pick among the types which are the best suited for the experience you want.

Understand the Responsibilities of a CMO

The marketing executive’s responsibilities encompass setting personal and team objectives, managing cross-functional teams, and technical data analysis and application. But a CMO’s tasks vary from company to company, depending on the nature of their operations.

CMOs commonly conduct any activities involving interpersonal relations, information analysis, and product and services innovation. These roles, combined with the former encompassing responsibilities, are geared towards honing the:

Analysis of Data

Involves identifying and assessing customer behavior and other business trends, converted to comprehensive reports or study. These analyses are primarily used for the company’s decision making, involving activities that run in numbers and then translated into a more communicable form.

Product Development

Chief marketing officers are exposed, particularly in the company’s product: how it flows within the value chain and comes out for customer use. The marketing executives have the authority to oversee this roadmap to distinguish how profitable the products are.

From this point, CMOs can meaningfully lead his/ her team in mitigating a decisive plan dedicated to improving the products, which would then affect the sales growth.

Strategic Planning

In this section of the chief marketing officer’s responsibility, a greater sense of analytic and logical thinking is vital. They determine the microeconomic factors, directly and indirectly, influential to business success and overall management.

CMOs prepare in the planned interval the necessary marketing strategies purposely added with theories to achieve the company’s common goal — to bring value. There might be only one way to get better at this: study hard and smart. Enhance your strategic and intellectual skills to be able to produce profitable decisions and actions for your company.

The point of telling you the responsibilities of a CMO is this: acknowledge every aspect and corners involved in running the company. Marketing executives should have a bird’s eye view of different corporate departments, especially those in selling, manufacturing, and administrative sections. In this way, you would be able to navigate the shortcomings and those that need improvement.

Knowing the Business’ Environment is Crucial

As previously stated, the chief marketing officer’s responsibilities largely depend on the business type of organization. The operating company’s environment can affect CMOs by either limiting their authority and tasks or letting them pour out what they think about the business’ process and all.

But, you know what is right about this? You get to choose what path you will take.

Businesses, in general, differ from each other. While it is true that some are born adopting international standards and following successful companies’ way of operating, some integrate the corporate baseline by themselves. And this, as we know, can either make or break a company.

Being at the C-suite level, you will get to work with fully-equipped and knowledgeable individuals such as the chief executive officer, chief operations officer, and chief financial officer. These people are well versed in their work (assuming they are in their position for a reason). Thus, it’s reasonable to build a strong rapport with them for the good of the business and your careers.

I brought the topic of C-level individuals up because I want to introduce you to the concept of interconnected relationships existing in a business. In some ways, the organizational framework can also make a difference in how a CMO should function, which brings me to the two prominent business environments (if not limited) that do just that…

CMOs in Business

This environment is best suited for individuals looking for an organized and more complicated assignment as a chief marketing officer. Such a take on difficulty exposes you to becoming more versatile and flexible. It is a win-win for you as a professional and your company.

Being in a strict and well-regulated environment can take a toll on some of your abilities as a CMO. Your activities might already be structured accordingly to its corporate and supervising function, which leaves a small space for creativity. To be clear, I am not saying that all businesses are fond of such implementing rules. I’m quite sure all the conditions will be presented once you applied for the position. So, keep an eye on that!

Providing services as a marketing executive can help you leverage your technical knowledge covering crucial pieces of the company’s cake, such as brand development and market growth. This information and experiences are significant additions to your career luggage and best in stepping up your curriculum vitae once you apply for a new job.

If you see yourself doing all the activities mentioned above as a CMO, well, you might consider entering the big businesses or corporate side of the industry.

This statement might have probably stricken some of you and is questioning right now, “Isn’t CMO designed for that, to work in large companies and all?”. Well, to answer that question, yes, that is true. Working in known corporate organizations can be labeled as a privilege. However, this is not always the case. I will explain it to the next number.

CMO in Start-Ups

Start-up companies offer even more relaxed and open task regulations for chief marketing officers. This company has an environment that welcomes certain modifications and improvements for both CMOs and the system. 

In some cases, the marketing executives are more inclined to wide-array of responsibilities in the work chain. They might cover or oversee multiple departments all at once or need to exert extra effort for a more efficient revenue stream. To put it merely, CMOs in start-ups should adhere to achieving success in the business function.

Even if you were working with this environment, professional and personal challenges would rear its ugly head. The title and responsibilities of CMOs in start-ups reflect just the same the title and duties of the CMOs in large corporations. The main difference, aside from the size, is the scope of specific tasks (which you will more likely figure out once you are in the arena).

To summarize this step: companies’ environment and nature directly shape the chief marketing officer’s responsibilities. There might be significant changes, but in most cases, the role portrays one objective. To build great rapport and connection between business departments and smoothly lead them towards a common goal.

 Enhance CMO Traits

It should go without saying that an employee’s personality is a globally accepted basis for the totality of their professional performance, whether you are in the low, middle, or top management. You might be killing your work task compared to others. However, some of your co-workers are intimidated by your over competitiveness.

The qualifications in almost all companies go beyond the work output. Behavior, wisdom, and humanity significantly affect your external results (cheesy it may sound, but that it is just a fact).

Now, the question is this: do you have what it takes to be a CMO?

Communication Skills

As one of the prominent executives in a company, chief marketing officers are assigned to handling different departments, which all need leadership. CMOs should properly convey the comprehensive plan or strategy towards their colleagues to work on a common goal. If I may say, this type of skill is on the same level, if not higher, with what is needed in a relationship with your significant other.

By developing this trait, you can also function very well as a marketing executive. Why? Because it is part of your job to connect the internal department links and cultivate a reputable image outside. And to achieve this, useful communication skills are highly required. 

Activities that may include this type of skill are as follows: dissemination of marketing strategy, periodic performance reports, motivating employees, garnering, and processing of feedbacks.


Ten years from now, how do you see the company? What achievements will it accumulate? How will the company do that?

A chief marketing officer must pair their function of building cohesive relations between corporate sections with a close and attainable vision. They should also direct the team towards a specific objective. Take note; however, that vision is not obsolete; it may change as time goes and adapt to what the company and its stakeholders need.

Dream big, that is completely fine. With consistent and well-coordinated efforts, the CMO-lead departments can put the flags at the top, the peak they envisioned.

Activities that may include this type of skill are setting marketing and corporate goals, planning for growing sales within the quarter, and dealing with timely financial and non-financial information.

Proficiency in Global Business

A chief marketing officer should always be updated with market trends, business strategies, and global demands as these are vital factors in mapping out the path for their company’s success. 

Furthermore, if you are thinking that merely knowing the nature of operations of the company you are working with is the end of the line of CMO’s job, well, you should change that already. An effective chief marketing officer should also be knowledgeable of the happenings outside the firm.

By understanding the broader perspective of the global business system, one can maximize its potential in meeting the customers’ specific needs.

Strategic and Flexible

Not all of the plans and missions of chief marketing officers go as it is foreseen. Some are met with dire and unpredicted happenings that hindered their eyed completion. But, as we all know and it applies to almost anything, things must go on.

CMOs should be capable of constructing immediate strategies when the company operations are met with disturbances. Calmly and with confidence, the marketing executives should disperse this plan in a well-coordinated manner. All of the departments under their wing can act in response to sudden changes.

Plans do not always have to be big and extravagant. A simple yet conveniently intricate strategy may be the one best suited to meet the immediate goals.

Knowledgeable of Financial Matters

Chief marketing officers do not solely focus on establishing and maintaining cohesive rapport between corporate sections. They must also be aware of the financial metrics running in and out of business.

Knowing such aspects in the company, a CMO can better perform his/ her job by integrating relevant financial information with decision-making. Numbers do not lie. Data clawed from the financial section is an acceptable baseline for executing the current and projected strategies and plans.

Drive and Mindset

I believe this trait is one of the top characteristics of an aspiring CMO must-have. Both professional and personal mindset draw the company’s success path as decisions and actions come and go. 

A chief marketing officer must have a firm and reasonable resolve on their professional service as this emotional baseline is inadvertently contagious to employees under their wings. Your colleagues can see through you.

Faking your mindset and your attitude can be an issue. Try to be as transparent and assertive of the business operation and environment to build loyalty to each other.

Now, I would like to say that there are more points that you should know, but I think it would be best if you discover and unfold yourself. You might be surprised how meaningful it is to be a CMO — from its roles, responsibilities, and traits. 

Spoiler: there is still a lot to learn.

But the provided information in your mind as you push yourself up there at the C-suite level as the marketing executive. I mean, hey, there is nothing wrong with dreaming, especially if you partner it with extensive efforts and perseverance.

Chief marketing officer and founder of B2B Fusion, Jon Russo, advises that adapting to an uncomfortable environment and overcoming various obstacles is a must. He also believes that leaders must push their people to move forward by taking chances and risks.

The position of chief marketing officer or CMO is undeniably one of the most challenging corporate industry jobs. It needs an individual who is willing to face multiple and varying challenges ahead. But on the bright side, CMO helps one develop themselves not only as a professional but also in his/ her personal life. And that might be one of the luscious fruits you will ever taste.

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