What’s the point of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)?” I asked Marketing Week readers that question. Why? Well, here is a baffling paradox: Each day, the world’s marketers create billions of cash dollars. Baileys, the Irish cream liqueur, has just had a record year. Colgate has been keeping teeth clean for over 100 years. And Apple, despite recent setbacks, still captures more smartphone profits than all of its competitors combined.

Yet many CMOs struggle. Companies fire top marketers faster (and more often) than other leaders—or deny them a seat at the table. Some even don’t hire CMOs in the first place.

What’s the problem? Expectations. “Chief Marketing Officer” is a cool title. Most people picture a growth driver, an influencer, someone with power. Reality paints another picture. Many CMOs get told to stick to marketing communication—and keep out of the rest. True, promotion matters. But alongside Product, Price, and Place, it’s just one of marketing’s four P’s—not enough to shape the business.

A cool title is sexy. But without matching powers, it sets you up for failure.

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Be careful what your title, your job description, or your brochure promises. Satisfaction is the delta between what people expect and what they get. Don’t artificially underpromise (that would be manipulative). Look at your powers. Be realistic. Then: overdeliver. With the right-sized shoes, you’ll run faster and farther.

P.S.: Something big is in the pipeline (more soon).


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