A chief marketing officer (CMO) is a corporate executive responsible for marketing activities in an organization. Most often the position reports to the chief executive officer.

Primary responsibilities

The CMO leads sales management, product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications (including advertising and promotions), pricing, market research, and customer service. Every one of these responsibilities depends upon the CMO's ability using the written word. CMOs must be able to explain a wide range of concepts across the specialized disciplines that power his or her company.

The day-to-day tasks are often categorically different from one another, due to the fluid nature of the CMO's skill set: language is needed to stitch together all aspects of the company. Thus, in a given day the CMO completes tasks that fall into many different categories:

  • Analytical tasks, such as pricing and market research,
  • Creative tasks such as designing advertising and promotions,
  • Interpersonal tasks such as coordinating many different styles of thinking in a single team.

The CMO must quickly react to changing circumstances in the firm, and must shape the company's understanding of a particular product, sales strategy, or marketing idea. Each of these products comes from a different department, so the CMO must be a nexus of information: it is a highly receptive role, with involvement in departments such as production, information technology, corporate communications, documentation, public relations, law, human resources, and finance.

Recently, however, post-digitalization and the rise of consumer-centric marketing has changed the role of the CMO. 21st century CMOs are now typically finding themselves handling customer-facing technology implementations in addition to the above tasks. [2] Gartner analyst Laura McLellan recently predicted that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs. [3] According to analyst firm McKinsey, few senior-executive positions will be subject to as much change over the next few years as that of the chief marketing officer. [4]

CMO is also the Chief Influence Officer of the firm. He or she must bring the company together as one voice.

The CMO, Chief Marketing Officer, is a member of the executive team and typically reports to the CEO. Peers to the CMO include Chief human resources officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief communications officer, chief supply chain officer, chief information officer, and general counsel.


The CMO is responsible for facilitating growth, sales and marketing strategy. He or she must work towards objectives such as revenue generation, cost reduction, or risk mitigation. The unpredictable effect of marketing efforts, coupled with the need to drive profits, often leads to a short tenure for most CMOs. Forbes reported that the average CMO tenure in 2008 was just over 28 months.[5]

According to a 2011 IBM global study of 1,734 CMOs around the world, CMOs see customer loyalty as their top priority in the digital area; their second priority is to design experiences for tablets and mobile apps.[6]

In the technology industry

In the male-dominated technology industry, CMO is an executive role with a majority of women. For instance, one analysis indicated that six out of the ten top CMOs in Silicon Valley were women.