CMO Summit: Thriving in the C-suite

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San Jose, Calif.—For CMOs, establishing a place in the C-suite is almost a job in itself these days. Top marketers from leading b-to-b and b-to-c companies reflected Thursday on the challenges this entails at the CMO Council North America Summit 2010, titled “Synchronizing the ‘C-Suite.' ”

Chris Hummel, CMO and president North America of Siemens Enterprise Communications, said in his keynote address that CMOs face a particular challenge in dealing with their C-suite colleagues: “They all believe they can do marketing just as well as we can if they just had the time.”

It's key to their survival, Hummel said, that CMOs position themselves at “the center of gravity” in the C-suite.

“The hardest part about aligning with the C-suite is thinking about it,” he said. His solution: Develop and carry out “a sales plan or relationship plan” as regards other members of the C-suite.

The payoff can be worth the effort, Hummel said, citing research that showed CMOs' longevity is linked to the time they spend with their C-suite peers rather than the CEO.

Stephen Jones, currently managing partner of Brand Ignition Group and formerly CMO of Coca-Cola Co. and CEO of Jones Soda Co., talked about the special relationship between the CMO and CEO.

Having served in both roles, Jones offered this insight into succeeding as a CMO: “I want the CEO to believe he's a great marketer. I want him to believe I'm a better marketer.”

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