There are three CMO archetypes, but only one is best for driving growth

Biljana Cvetanovski, Senior Expert within the Marketing & Sales Practice of McKinsey & Company, discusses the important thing attributes of three varieties of advertising government and how the CMO’s rapport with the C-suite is essential in establishing advertising’s function as a growth driver.

Arguably, there has by no means been a greater time to be a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). CEOs are giving CMOs permission to step up and assume boldly about how advertising can drive growth. But to construct deep, productive relationships, CMOs need to win over some skeptics within the C-suite.

Only half the CFOs we surveyed, for instance, stated advertising delivers on the promise of driving growth, and 40 % don’t assume advertising investments needs to be protected throughout a downturn.

There is even much less symbiosis between advertising and the chief human assets officer (CHRO)—an enormous Achilles heel, given the necessity to appeal to the world-class expertise that may permit advertising organizations to thrive. Further complicating issues, simply three % of board members have a advertising background.

The three CMO archetypes

We have discovered that CMOs are divided into three archetypes, every with distinctive habits and traits: the Unifier, the Friend, and the Loner. However, only one—the Unifier—is the important thing to future victory. In truth, McKinsey evaluation exhibits that high-growth corporations are seven instances extra prone to have a “Unifier” CMO – somebody who fosters strong, collaborative partnerships throughout the C-suite—because the extra remoted archetype we name “Loner.”

Here are the three archetypes that our evaluation highlighted:


These CMOs are masters at fostering cross-functional collaboration. They make sure that advertising has a clearly outlined function within the eyes of C-suite friends; they undertake the language and mindset of different C-suite executives, and so they articulate how advertising may also help meet the C-suite’s wants. They additionally set up mutual accountability and a shared imaginative and prescient with different executives. Sought after by friends for recommendation, they’ve a seat on the desk when important choices are made, have broad profit-and-loss (P&L) duty, and are typically concerned in defining the corporate’s technique.


These CMOs could also be nice entrepreneurs, but they don’t have the complete assist of, or deep relationships with, their C-suite friends. Loners are inclined to concentrate on near-term actions like advert campaigns and social media. They are seen by CEOs as executors of brand name stewardship, promoting, and PR, not as equal companions. They are extra prone to implement technique than develop it and infrequently report that their CEO doesn’t perceive or belief advertising.


The most prevalent sort of CMO, the Friend has one or two allies within the C-suite, typically the CEO, but hasn’t been in a position to unfold advertising’s agenda absolutely throughout the group. Responsible for top-line growth via advertising channels, Friend CMOs sometimes don’t have broad P&L duty and even a lot affect throughout the whole thing of buyer experiences, similar to product growth and customer support.

What Unifiers do effectively

Unifier CMOs work immediately with related members of the C-suite to drive the enterprise’s growth agenda in 4 areas:

Align with CEO on growth agenda

Unifier CMOs begin by ensuring the CEO understands how precisely advertising is driving growth, proudly owning the client, and serving the corporate’s broader targets and aims. Unifiers weave many sources of perception and a deep understanding of the client right into a holistic image of alternative that the CMO and CEO collectively translate into short- and long-term initiatives.

Adopt the mindset of a CFO

Forty-five % of CFOs we surveyed stated the rationale advertising proposals have been declined or not absolutely funded previously is as a result of they didn’t exhibit a transparent line to worth. To overcome this, Unifier CMOs exhibit that advertising does in reality drive predictable and vital worth. The best entrepreneurs use superior analytics to assist quantify the influence that advertising spend has on short- and long-term worth. They construct enterprise circumstances with metrics that mirror significant monetary worth (ROI, buyer lifetime worth, income run fee) reasonably than extra prevalent but much less legitimate—within the CFO’s eyes.

Anyway, indicators, similar to model fairness, gross ranking factors (GRPs), or engagement.

Partner with the CTO to unlock the ability of information

Companies with Unifier CMOs perceive that advertising and know-how are inextricable companions in creating capabilities for unlocking worth in new methods. Unifier CMOs are about three instances as seemingly as Loners to have their very own devoted data-analytics groups, for instance, which assist enhance the standard and velocity of promoting choices. As companions with the CTO, they develop a shared imaginative and prescient of how information from separate, disconnected programs may be built-in after which used to grasp clients at granular ranges, personalize interactions, and predict buyer habits. CTOs who really feel accountable for the outcomes of promoting initiatives are extra prone to commit devoted assets to them.

Educate and collaborate with the CHRO to win the warfare for expertise

Although corporations with Unifiers are roughly three instances extra seemingly than these with Loners to draw and develop expertise that balances analytics and creativity, they nonetheless report issue in assembly their expertise wants.

Overall there is a large expertise hole, a shocking 82 % of Fortune 500 executives don’t consider they recruit extremely proficient folks. Relying on legacy recruiting and coaching packages received’t do. The CMO can play a important and influential function right here by participating with the CHRO, educating her about advertising’s numerous expertise necessities and the necessity to evolve the group’s tradition for the following era.

You can’t go it alone

Even the best CMO can’t do all of it on their very own. They must create networks throughout the C-suite. But the C-suite has an essential function to play as effectively to assist the enterprise drive growth. Ultimately, the C-suite must ask itself: Is the CMO empowered to perform as a Unifier or are they destined to be a Loner or Friend?

The writer want to thank Julien Boudet, Brian Gregg, Jason Heller, and Jesko Perrey for their contributions to this text.

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