ClickCease CMO Challenges: Overcoming Hurdles of Marketing Leadership

CMO Challenges: Overcoming the Hurdles of Modern Marketing Leadership


CMO Challenges

The role of the CMO has changed a lot over recent years and CMOs now have more responsibility over the success of the whole business. This added responsibility brings with it more pressure and a new set of obstacles. Not only are they expected to know the ins and outs of marketing, sales and customer behavior, but they’re usually in charge of digital transformation, product development, internal communications, business strategy and more.

When you think about it, it’s a lot! And on top of that, CMOs are worried about the stability of their job, with the average CMO tenure dropping to only 40 months in 2020.

We’re going to look at the biggest challenges facing CMOs and how a great CMO is integral to business success.

1. The CMO Has to be The Voice of The Customer

In order to create brand awareness and position the company in front of your target audience, you need a CMO who knows the customer inside and out. It’s not as simple as targeting the desired audience based on demographics and positioning your company or product in front of your audience’s eye, it’s deeper than that. A great CMO will understand the issues and feelings a customer is experiencing and exactly how your product can solve it for them. 

But this isn’t built on guesses, this knowledge comes from being empathetic, researching customer behavior, analyzing data, and listening to current customers to attract new ones. The CMO has to know how to reach and pique the interest of the audience, at every stage of the customer journey. This means being creative and analytical all at once. And it doesn’t stop at the marketing, the CMO has to have their finger on the pulse at every customer touchpoint.

The CMO then has to be the voice of the customer for the whole business; teach internal teams about the customer and the importance of being customer-centric. And not everyone is going to get that, it takes a lot of internal education to get everyone on the same page. 

2. The CMO is The Brand Guardian 

All of the C-suite needs to be acutely aware of the brand image and how the company is perceived. But CMOs have to be constantly on it, not just to maintain the branding itself but overseeing and keeping tabs on all communication going out, and public opinion coming in. 

Brand loyalty and what drives it has changed a lot since the pandemic. Consumers were quick to notice how companies reacted to the pandemic and couple that with financial worries, have become more selective of the companies they’re loyal to in a way they might not have been before. Customers are aware of their own values, and stay loyal to brands that align with them, stopping buying from those that don’t. 

In order to maintain brand loyalty and customer retention, CMOs have to ensure the company values are upheld in all activities, regardless of whether it’s related to marketing or not. And depending on the size of the brand, this could be a full time job alone.

3. CMOs Need to be Strategic Future-Thinkers

Not only are CMOs in charge of the marketing strategy, but they’re often heavily involved in the whole business strategy. They have to know the industry inside and out to understand what’s happening now, emerging trends and technological changes that could impact the future. But they must also be innovative and open-minded, responsible for driving the vision forward in line with current business operations. 

Find out what we mean about being an innovative CMO, or an open-minded one (we have resources available on both!) 

4. The CMO Has to Lead Digital Transformation

It’s simple really: companies that adopt technology and use it to improve their working processes, will be here for the long run. But it’s not as simple as buying a new tool for every process. Digital transformation needs its own strategy. 

You might think surely this is a job for the CTO or someone else? You’d be wrong. Because marketing is an area that is transforming at a rapid rate due to technological advancements, research shows that senior marketing leaders are driving 73% of digital transformation efforts. CMOs don’t just need knowledge and to make decisions about the martech stack, but a great CMO will also know how technology can improve wider business operations. 

By reviewing processes across the business and spotting opportunities for technology to drive it forward, CMOs can encourage agile working practices and become the leader for necessary change. Luckily, CMOs are used to dealing with large quantities of data, and leading marketing teams with numerous processes and tools to do their job, meaning they’re good at sussing out which processes need automated and which don’t.

Smart CMOs use Mediatool to improve their marketing operations, giving them the ability to spot opportunities that could lead to marketing, and therefore, business success. Check it out for yourself

5. CMOs Must Deliver ROI

While everyone in the business delivers ROI, most pressure is placed on CMOs to generate leads and sales whilst spending as little as possible. While the marketing team works to play their part, the CMO must ensure targets are met and budgets optimized. This is where all this knowledge of the customer, technology, industry and markets is crucial. 

The CMO must be creative, analytical, financially driven, innovative, collaborative, the list goes on. On top of that, most CMOs feel stressed and under constant scrutiny to prove ROI and account for their team’s efforts. 


It’s no surprise that they don’t have time to sit and generate reports. That’s where Mediatool comes in. Mediatool integrates with your channels, so you can get automated reports next to budgets and the numbers are done for you. Taking some of the heat off you as a CMO, you have more time to focus on delivering results. 

6. The CMO Still Has to Lead Their Own Team 

After all that, at the end of the day–and one of the only things actually on their job description–the CMO is there to lead the marketing team. Leading a team brings with it its own challenges: are staff performing how they should? Are they happy? Do they have the tools they need to do their job? You get the gist.

With all of these other spinning plates on their mind, sometimes being a great leader falls down the list of priorities. But, the CMOs that put leadership first, set themselves up for success. By giving their team autonomy and creativity, they give themselves more time to think about the rest. 

If you’re interested in reading more about being the best marketing leader for your team, click here

CMOs are business-critical

Businesses need quality CMOs more than ever before. The role of the CMO is always changing, but one thing that’s for sure is that they’re critical to business success. It’s no longer just about leading the marketing team, but leading business growth and transformation. They’re the glue that binds all departments together, ready to quickly pivot and adapt to change. 

In order to help them overcome these challenges and cement the importance of their position, insights are the most vital tool in a CMO’s back pocket. For a while it was speculated that the CMO role was in decline. But by leveraging insights to make strategic decisions, they can pave their own way for success, strengthen customer loyalty and transform business growth.

This is our bread and butter. We built Mediatool to help CMOs get the insights they need, spot opportunities and adopt a growth mindset. If you’d like to find out more, see for yourself

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