CMOs Are More Praised By CEOs Based On New Report

CMOs Are More Praised By CEOs Based On New Report

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: January 17, 2024

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are finding themselves on the receiving end of more positive evaluations from CEOs in 2023, a recent survey conducted by Boathouse reveals.

The study, comprising responses from 150 CEOs of U.S. companies with over 100 employees and an annual revenue of at least $250 million, shows several noteworthy trends for CMOs.

In 2023, 40% of CEOs ranked their CMOs as "Best in Class," showcasing an improvement from 36% in 2022, and a leap from the 21% recorded in 2021.

Meanwhile, only 11% of CEOs perceived their CMOs as underperforming in 2023, a slight increase from 9% in the previous year but significantly lower than the 24% reported in 2021.

John Connors, CEO of Boathouse, shared optimism about the findings and points to the growing experience of CMOs in navigating business challenges, especially during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Connors, CEOs now perceive CMOs as more adept business partners, a sentiment reflected in the survey results. "I think CMOs have gotten more experienced with business issues through COVID, and CEOs see them as more of a business partner," he shared.

87% of surveyed CEOs expressed confidence that their CMOs understood their vision, while 80% acknowledged the CMOs' ability to take decisive action and execute that vision.

CMO Performance In 2023

The study also gauged overall performance grades for CMOs, revealing a commendable increase in high ratings.

In 2023, 26% of CMOs received an "A," a substantial improvement from the 16% recorded in 2022. Nearly half of the CMOs (47%) secured a "B," portraying a positive trend in CEOs' assessments.

Connors highlights this positive change, saying, “Grades were up on execution, ability to understand vision, strategy, and innovation, among other things."

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Turnovers: The Good and the Bad

While the industry has historically struggled with high turnover rates, the survey shows a shift in CEOs' attitudes. "I think it’s because the perception of the CMO went from negative to positive. Now CEOs give CMOs the benefit of the doubt and see them leaving as a sign of success," Connor noted.

A significant 50% of CEOs now perceive a CMO's short term as a sign of success, a substantial increase from the 19% reported in 2022. This suggests a changing perception of the CMO role, with CEOs viewing departures as indicative of success rather than failure.

However, amidst the positive evaluations, a challenge arises in the CEO-CMO relationship.

Despite the favorable grades and accolades, the survey reveals a decrease in the personal relationships CEOs feel with their CMOs. Only 45% of CEOs consider their CMOs easy to collaborate with, down from 66% in the previous survey.

Additionally, trust indicators such as shared values and confidence have seen a decline. This aligns with a McKinsey survey indicating differing views between CEOs and CMOs on marketing metrics and roles.

Connors, though, rejects the idea that remote or hybrid work setups are causing a drop in personal connections. He points to COVID-19 as a turning point that has brought teams closer in focusing on brand and reputation.

"I do think COVID was a turning point, making teams get more aligned on brand and reputation, not just about consumers. So the building blocks are in place for that personal relationship to improve," he concludes.

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