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CMOs’ roles have changed in scope and importance in the past few years as they take on the responsibilities of customer experience, data analytics and brand. However, very few hold seats as directors on company boards, with a new study [download page] from Spencer Stuart reporting that, of the thousands of seats available for Fortune 1000 companies in the US, only 26 seats are currently occupied by individuals holding the title of CMO or its equivalent.

As part of its report, Spencer Stuart surveyed more than 250 senior marketing executives. These marketing professionals currently hold seats on a variety of boards, including non-profit (117), private (100), public (46) and academic (46).

Despite the discouraging figure above, about three-quarters (73%) of respondents say that they expect that marketers will become more prevalent on boards in the coming years. That being said, of the 27% who did not expect marketers to have a larger presence on boards, 73% felt that other functions beyond those of the marketers were more critical for the board room.

How Has the CMO’s Role Evolved?

Going back to 2015, CMOs were seeing marketing’s role as changing to one that drives engagement, customer experience and revenue, with more than half (51%) seeing customer experience as part of their responsibility within 3-5 years. Fast-forward that period of time, and more than one-third (36%) of companies now place customer experience in the hands of the CMO.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of CMOs also see one of marketing’s top functions to be to drive business growth. Part of driving that growth means building a powerful brand.

Brand building is a traditional focus area for CMOs – with The CMO Survey revealing that a large majority (86.5%) of CMOs saying that brand was primarily the responsibility of marketing. The most recent CMO Survey shows that brand is still a priority for CMOs, brand spending is expected to go up this year.

What Can CMOs Do to Get On A Board?

For those CMOs looking to get a seat on a board, many of the Spencer Stuart survey respondents advise to start small. When asked to choose one piece of advice, more than one-third (34%) recommended to start seeking a director position with a smaller company board, local non-profit or academic institution. Another one-fifth (21%) of respondents advised that CMOs who want a seat on a board should build a network of current board directors to advocate for them.

Being prepared to articulate why you want to sit on a board and what value you would add was the top recommendation by around one-quarter (27%) of respondents.

So what value can marketers add to a board? More than two-fifths (42%) of the total respondents say marketers can provide consumer or client insights. With customer experience, acquisition and retention high on the list of CMOs’ priorities this year, who better is there to provide this insight?

Last year saw CMOs spend more of their budgets on martech than any other resource, and while there are indications that the martech boom is leveling off, having an understanding of how this kind of technology can help companies drive growth is beneficial. In fact, 40% of survey respondents identified knowledge of digital technologies such as AI and social media as something of value marketing executives bring to a board.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: More than 250 marketing professionals were surveyed about their own experiences with boards.

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