This perfectly captures the Herculean challenge of modern marketing

Herculean Role of the CMO

On the surface, this cartoon last week from Tom Fishburne, the talented Marketoonist, seems to be poking fun at the different “chief” titles that marketers and marketing-ish executives use.

Ha ha, us mad marketing people and our zany titles du jour.

But my reaction was: this is exactly why marketing is so challenging today.

No, the challenge isn’t sorting out which title to use. (Although what we call something does impact the way it’s framed in people’s minds — not an insignificant effect to consider. Words matter.)

The real challenge is that everything Tom listed in his strip is, indeed, what we now consider the responsibility — officially or unofficially — of marketing leadership:

  • Grow the business
  • Make customers happy
  • Deliver amazing experiences
  • Achieve commercial success (revenue and profit)
  • Define and protect the brand

Seriously, that’s a jaw-dropping range of capabilities and responsibilities.

And that’s not even taking into consideration how we accomplish these objectives — which gets us into the rapidly growing discipline of marketing operations and technology. (See The New Rules of Marketing Technology & Operations for an appreciation of the vast scope of just that mission alone.)

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t embrace this expansion. Businesses need to address these challenges — and they need to address them in an integrative way. It’s systems dynamics, and it’s hard. But it’s also thrilling and bursting with opportunity to build a better business.

The CMO — by whatever title we assign him or her — is probably the person best poised to champion this opportunity in most organizations. And I’ve met a ton of talented and energetic marketing leaders who are eager to rise to the task.

But we have to acknowledge that, as fast as we’re running, the field we must cross is widening even faster:

Marketing Achievement vs. Expectations

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The optimistic view is that there’s limitless professional development in this field, and there’s always a way to outinnovate your competition. You just have to make peace with the fact that there’s no finish line.

P.S. Want to get a vitamin boost on the marketing technology and operations part of this mission? Check out the 75 presentations that we’ll have at MarTech conference in Boston next month, September 16-18.

After all, martech is marketing.

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