What Do Enterprise CEOs Think of Their CMOs?

July 13, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Internal Collaboration | Staffing

CEOs at top US companies give middling grades to their CMOs, more likely to rate them a C (23% share) in their overall role than an A (16% share), according to Boathouse’s CMO Performance Study [download page]. A majority (55%) graded their CMO a B, although the grades they “handed out” differed by aspect of the job.

The 150 CEOs surveyed were most likely to hand out top grades to CMOs based on their C-suite relationships. Some 39% graded their CMOs’ relationship/trust with the CEO an A, while 29% gave out the top grade to their CMO for their relationship/trust with the C-suite. This is good news given past research suggesting that CMOs were not heavily integrated with the CMO suite in terms of strategic collaboration.

Much more worrisomely, CMOs were most poorly graded for their ability to drive company growth, with more than twice as many CEOs grading their CMO a C (34% share) as an A (16%) on this measure. Considering that driving growth is CMOs’ biggest challenge and their biggest strategic priority, to receive such ratings is a letdown. Prior research has indicated that 7 in 10 C-suite leaders were at least moderately confident in the marketing team to drive growth, though only 17% were extremely confident.

Curiously, despite the above results, CMOs tend to perform better generally on tangibles than intangibles, according to the Boathouse survey’s CEO respondents. Some 29% gave their CMO an A for managing tangible areas such as creative, media, data/analytics, research, and the customer experience (notwithstanding another study indicating that CEOs don’t see CMOs as crucial in the CX arena). By comparison, only 22% gave their CMO an A for intangibles including relationships in the C-suite, organizational partnerships, and expanding/broadening their skill set, being far more likely to grade them a C (35%) in these areas.

In other areas related to CEOs’ perceptions of their CMOs:

  • Just 1 in 4 said their CMO’s decision-making is above average, though that was double the share (12%) who said it was below average
  • About 1 in 4 (27%) said their CMO “plays big (inspires other members of the C-suite)” versus playing it safe (50%) or small (23%)
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) report that their CMO contributes to tough decisions CEOs have to make
  • Close to 3 in 4 (73%) agree that their CMO participates in financial goal setting
  • About half (53%) said that their CMO understands their company’s P&L and balance sheet
  • Two-thirds (66%) say that their CMO listens well and builds alignment with the CEO and C-suite.

Although more than 6 in 10 agreed that their CMO understands board and political dynamics, only half said their CMO attends board meetings, and just 3 in 10 have a board marketing committee.

For more, download the study here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 150 CEOs from top US companies with at least $250 million in annual revenues. Seven in 10 lead companies with more than 1,000 employees.


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