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The Uncomfortable CMO
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Here at BMA, we focus mostly on the agency side of AdLand. There are times, though, when it is important to stick up for the marketers on the other side of the aisle. The lead for the other side, usually the CMO, has had a tough ride during these past couple of years.

When it comes to building a relationship, time and consistency are crucial. The CMO recently has been put under unrealistic deadlines and has been forced to create "get-customers-quick" schemes, and in more cases than not, the decisions do more long-term harm than good. Trying to increase the bottom line, increasing "ROI," and "streamlining processes" do not help create a brand's identity, nor does improve the messaging between the brand and its target audience.

Because CMOs average two years at a brand, we wrote a while back why "term floors" are needed for CMOs. We also learned, too, that increasing the risk and demanding high performance for high reward actually does more harm than good (it's called the Yerkes-Dodson Effect, if you want to look it up).

Why is this relevant? Accenture did a survey with CMOs and the results were troubling. According to the report, 40% of CMOs felt unprepared, and 1 out of 5 CMOs are behind the curve when it comes to marketing analytics and digital marketing.

Many too feel that the relationships with "external partners" (ahem, agencies and the like) haven't done much to help them succeed.

There are many reasons why CMOs may feel that way. In this economic environment, the role of CMO is not for the faint of heart. The CMO is repeatedly asked to do more with less. To squeeze performance and get better results. Without the tools or partners needed, it could certainly feel like a job bound to fail. 

CMOs must relate to the agencies and partners they work with the strings they are working with. With a new direction, sometimes it is best to part ways, other times, with good communication, the relationship can change.

But it is clear to see that the CMO needs some help. And the rest of AdLand should do what it takes to make life a little bit easier for them.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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