Careers

Learn About Being a Chief Marketing Officer

What does a chief marketing officer do?

A chief marketing officer leads the marketing team in developing, implementing and delivering marketing campaigns to prospective customers as well as customer outreach via social media. This C-level corporate executive’s primary objective is to increase sales and promote brand recognition through comprehensive planning of targeted and direct advertising. As the highest-level marketing position in the company, the CMO oversees the marketing and advertising activities across all company product lines and markets.

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Average salary

The salary and pay structure is influenced by the CMO’s level of experience as well as the size of the company and the geographic location of the CMO’s corporate office. The compensation package can include the annual base salary, plus individual bonuses, profit sharing and commissions.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $130,827 per year
  • Some salaries range from $22,000 to $335,000 per year

Chief marketing officer requirements

The CMO has a wide range of responsibilities that involve certain requirements, including:

Education

Chief marketing officers must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, although most companies prefer or even require an MBA plus 10 years or more of experience in marketing and advertising and several years of managerial experience.

Individuals can also hold degrees in creative disciplines, including journalism, communications, advertising or public relations. Additionally, possessing a working understanding of economics, accounting and data analysis may be necessary for an individual in this position.

Training

Typically, it is necessary to have at least 10 years of marketing or business development experience, specifically in positions of increasing responsibility, plus approximately five years of experience serving in leadership roles to become a CMO. Specific areas of expertise—such as targeted marketing—can make you a more desirable candidate. Many marketing professionals take online marketing courses to deepen their knowledge.

Certifications

Certifications enable professionals to prove their qualifications to current and future employers. Prospective CMOs can earn certifications to gain more theoretical knowledge of their responsibilities, test their professional skills and further advance their career. These are two of the most common certifications for this profession:

  • Certified Marketing Management Professional: Created by the International Institute of Marketing Professionals, the CMMP is a globally-recognized measure of excellence in the marketing field. This program consists of four levels of certification: associate, manager, executive and chartered CMMP. Some of the covered topics include professional ethics, market analysis, planning and strategy.

  • Professional Certified Marketer: Available in four specialties, this certification is offered by the nationally recognized American Marketing Association and covers topics such as marketing strategy, ethics, insights, buyers and markets and pricing.

Skills

A chief marketing officer must possess a wide range of skills to succeed in the role. Some of these skills include:

  • Leadership: It is essential that the CMO is able to align colleagues, bosses and teams to improve the end-to-end customer experience. The ability to understand and balance the needs of the customer and the organization’s needs is directly related to interdepartmental efforts to secure customer loyalty and increase sales.

  • Communication: Exceptional communication skills enable you to communicate with potential customers through marketing and advertising campaigns and other communication methods, such as social media. Clear speaking and active listening are needed to take appropriate action and guide professional and respectful communication with others. Empathy and emotional intelligence are necessary to understand the needs of the customer, the team and the company and act accordingly.

  • Time management: This skill is important in any profession, and exceptionally crucial in marketing. Marketers must prioritize to meet deadlines while working on several simultaneous projects, tracking campaign engagement, dealing with setbacks, constant interruptions, using technology and doing all of these things accurately.

  • Technical skills: A marketer needs these skills to use everyday technological tools essential for marketing. Some of the tools marketers use daily include SEO, SEM, email, CRM and social media. These tools enable marketers to properly track the effectiveness of campaigns and find out where they can be improved to maximize the impact on potential customers.

Chief marketing officer work environment

These professionals work in an office setting that typically includes the following characteristics:

  • Usually works indoors and spends the majority of time looking at a computer screen to conduct market research, collect and analyze data, and generate reports

  • Usually works typical business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some occasions to work into the evenings or over weekends when facing tight deadlines

  • Employs moderate amounts of travel to satellite offices and client sites

  • Meets with managers, supervisors and executives of collaborating departments

The skills of a chief marketing officer are utilized in many sectors, including:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Government
  • Health care 
  • Nonprofit

How to become a chief marketing officer

Most CMOs follow this career path:

  1. Pursue an education. CMOs are typically required to possess either a bachelor’s degree with extensive professional experience or an MBA with a marketing concentration. This education provides marketing knowledge as well as business management skills. Some CMOs hold additional degrees in disciplines such as communications, advertising or public relations.

  2. Obtain work experience. To become a CMO, a marketer is generally required to have at least 10 years in marketing, with three to five years in a management position. Many marketers gain valuable experience through different levels of marketing management, often starting early on as an internship or assistant and working up.

  3. Earn professional certifications. Earning certifications in accounting, finance, sales management and business development can help to prepare you for the responsibilities of a chief marketing officer.

  4. Prepare your resume. You should include your highest level of education, relevant certifications and your level of experience on a resume. Your work history section should include the company’s name, your employment dates and a short description of your responsibilities, experiences and achievements. Preparing a professional resume with relevant information can help you find the job you want.

  5. Begin in a support-level role. After completing the required education, professional certifications and appropriate work experience, check the current job listings for your locale. Apply to positions that you are qualified for, based on education and experience. This can help you gain experience, hone your skills and further prepare you to take on an executive role in the future.

Chief marketing officer job description example

Hometown Investments seeks an experienced chief marketing officer with a proven record in leading a marketing team, creating innovative campaigns and increasing sales. This position works closely with the executive management team to develop and implement new marketing strategies. The CMO will use their extensive knowledge of marketing principles to lead the entire life cycle of the campaign, from design to execution, monitoring, analysis and optimization.

An ideal candidate should be fully versed in digital marketing tools and extensively experienced with digital marketing channels, including email, social media platforms, paid social media advertising, blogs, partner marketing and SEO. Additionally, this role encompasses management and hands-on operation, leading the team and assuming the accountability of the marketing department. This person must also be able to understand and perform testing and optimize campaigns to maximize ROI.

Our next chief marketing officer must have experience in B2B marketing, e-marketing and sales. Additional consideration will be granted to candidates with proven success in the development and execution of social media marketing and viral advertising.

The CMO is responsible for managing all internal and external marketing functions. Practical experience and required traits include creativity, positivity, integrity, motivation, collaboration and leadership. 

An inquisitive and innovative way of thinking is desirable. This person must be able to identify emerging technologies that can be utilized to maximize exposure, increase sales and position the company in the best possible markets. Other responsibilities this role performs include: 

  • Overseeing the company’s community and media relations 
  • Meeting daily goals of campaign execution and enhancement 
  • Conducting competitive analysis and market research
  • Maintaining the company website 
  • Delivering brand-consistent messaging
  • Developing and maintaining business relationships 
  • Acting as project manager as well as leader
  • Networking and leveraging contacts and sales leads

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