Why Every Business Needs a CMO

Discover why every business needs a CMO. Learn about their role and how they can improve your marketing capability in our latest blog by Paul Bennett.

Paul Bennett
9 Feb
February 9, 2024
 min video
9 Feb


In today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape, the role of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has become indispensable. Gone are the days when marketing was merely an afterthought or a supplementary function within a company. Now, more than ever, businesses need a strategic leader at the helm of their marketing efforts to navigate through complexities, drive growth, and ensure sustainable success. In this article I delve into why every business should consider having a CMO, the different options available and how this role can elevate your company to new heights.

What Is a Chief Marketing Officer and What Do They Do?

At its core, a Chief Marketing Officer is a strategic leader responsible for overseeing all aspects of a company's marketing efforts. This encompasses everything from branding and advertising to market research, customer experience, and beyond. Unlike traditional marketing roles, which may focus on specific tactics or channels, the CMO operates at a higher level, shaping the overall marketing strategy and aligning it with the company's broader goals and objectives. Read more about what a CMO does here.

How are CMOs Perceived?

The typical perception of a Chief Marketing Officer and what they do varies depending on the context, industry, and individual experiences. However, the common perceptions that are often associated with the role include:

  • Visionary Leader: Many people perceive CMOs as visionary leaders who are responsible for shaping the overall marketing strategy and direction of a company. They are expected to have a deep understanding of market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitive landscape, and to use this knowledge to drive growth and innovation. They should drive change and perceptions of the business in which they operate.
  • Creative Thinker: CMOs are often seen as creative thinkers who are adept at coming up with innovative ideas and campaigns to capture the attention of customers and differentiate their brand from competitors. They are expected to possess strong storytelling skills and to be able to craft compelling narratives that resonate with target audiences.
  • Strategic Planner: CMOs are viewed as strategic planners who are able to translate business objectives into actionable marketing plans and initiatives. They are responsible for setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs), and measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts in driving business outcomes.
  • Brand Steward: CMOs are seen as guardians of the brand who are responsible for maintaining brand integrity and consistency across all touchpoints. They play a key role in defining brand positioning, messaging, and visual identity, and ensuring that these elements are reflected consistently in all marketing communications.
  • Customer Champion: A CMO serves as the voice of the customer within the organisation, advocating for their needs, preferences, and desires. By understanding the target audience on a deep level, the CMO can tailor marketing initiatives to resonate effectively and drive engagement.
  • Capability Builder: In addition to understanding the market and customers, a CMO is responsible for building and nurturing the marketing capabilities within the organisation. This includes developing talent, fostering a culture of innovation, and ensuring that the company stays ahead of trends and best practices.
  • Marketing Technologist: In today's digital age, technology plays a crucial role in marketing. CMOs need to be well-versed in the latest marketing tools, platforms, and analytics techniques to optimise performance, track ROI, and make data-driven decisions.
  • Sustainable Growth Advocate: Beyond short-term gains, a CMO is focused on driving sustainable growth for the company. This involves developing long-term strategies, building brand equity, and cultivating lasting relationships with customers and stakeholders.
  • Innovation Catalyst: Innovation is key to staying competitive in today's dynamic marketplace. CMOs drive innovation by experimenting with new ideas, exploring emerging trends, and challenging the status quo to push the company forward.
  • Results-Driven Professional: CMOs are often judged based on their ability to deliver tangible results and drive measurable business outcomes. They are expected to be data-driven decision-makers who use analytics and performance metrics to track ROI, optimise marketing campaigns, and demonstrate the value of marketing initiatives to the broader organisation.
Paul Bennett - Fractional CMO, VCMO
“A CMO will bring the strategic and technical know how to lead the business to growth but, more than that, they should also bring a brave vision to make step changes focused on meeting present and future customer needs - and then have the resilience to take people on that journey to execute it.”    

Can a Business Operate Without a CMO?

While some businesses may attempt to operate without a dedicated CMO, doing so can be a risky proposition. Without a strategic marketing leader in place, companies may struggle to effectively communicate their value proposition, differentiate themselves from competitors, and reach their target audience. Furthermore, lacking a cohesive marketing strategy can lead to wasted resources, missed opportunities, and stagnant growth.

Signs Your Business Needs the Expertise of a CMO.

If your business exhibits any of these following signs, it may be time to contemplate having the expertise of a CMO in your business. By bringing strategic leadership, operational expertise, and a customer-centric approach to the table, a CMO can help propel your business forward, differentiate your brand, and achieve your growth objectives.

Stagnant Growth

If your business is experiencing stagnant or declining growth, it may be a sign that your marketing strategy needs a refresh. A CMO can conduct a comprehensive review of your marketing efforts, identify barriers to growth, and develop strategies to reignite momentum and drive sustainable growth over the long term. Read our article The Fractional CMO: A Catalyst for Business Growth.

Losing Customers to Competitors

Losing customers to competitors can be a red flag that your marketing efforts are falling short. A CMO can use modern marketing frameworks to conduct competitive analysis, identify market trends, and develop strategies to differentiate your brand and attract and retain customers. By understanding the competitive landscape and consumer preferences, a CMO can help position your company for success in the market.

Lack of a clear marketing strategy

One of the primary indicators that a business may need to hire a CMO is the absence of a well-defined marketing strategy. Without a clear roadmap outlining goals, target audience, messaging, and channels, marketing efforts are likely to be disjointed and ineffective. A CMO can bring strategic vision and direction, developing a comprehensive marketing plan aligned with business objectives.

Poor marketing performance

If your marketing efforts consistently fail to deliver the desired results, it may be time to consider hiring a CMO. A CMO can assess current marketing initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and implement strategies to enhance team performance, whether it's increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving conversions. Read our article: How a Fractional CMO Can Develop Your Marketing Team.

Complex Value Proposition

If your company's value proposition is difficult to articulate or understand, it may indicate a need for strategic marketing expertise. A CMO can help clarify your value proposition, distilling complex concepts into compelling messaging that resonates with your target audience and communicates the unique benefits of your products or services.

Inconsistent Brand Voice

Inconsistency in brand messaging and communication across various channels can dilute brand identity and confuse customers. A CMO can establish brand guidelines, ensuring consistency in tone, messaging, and visual identity across all marketing touchpoints. By maintaining a unified brand voice, businesses can enhance brand recognition and build stronger connections with their audience.

Limited Marketing Expertise

For businesses lacking in-house marketing expertise or resources, hiring a CMO can provide access to strategic leadership and specialised skills. A CMO brings a wealth of experience and industry knowledge, guiding marketing efforts and empowering teams to execute campaigns with confidence and effectiveness.

Outdated Marketing Systems

If your marketing systems and technologies are outdated or inefficient, it can hinder productivity and limit your ability to reach and engage customers effectively. A CMO can assess your marketing infrastructure, implement modern tools and technologies, and streamline processes to optimise marketing operations and drive results.

“Involving a CMO in the issues a company faces will bring some much needed balance across short term tactical fixes and achieving long term sustainable growth. They can use data and customer insights to lead on deeply understanding the issues to resolve and to bring forward a plan that spans both the urgent and the strategic. “  

10 Ways a CMO Can Improve Your Marketing Capability.

There are many ways a CMO can transform your current marketing efforts. Here are ten critical areas where the guidance of a seasoned Chief Marketing Officer can unlock the potential of your marketing initiatives.

  1. Strategic Planning: Develop and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy aligned with your business objectives.
  2. Brand Building: Strengthen brand identity and equity to enhance market presence and perception.
  3. Customer Insights: Utilise data and analytics to gain deep insights into customer behaviour and preferences.
  4. Integrated Campaigns: Coordinate cross-channel marketing initiatives to maximize reach and impact.
  5. Content Marketing: Create valuable and engaging content to attract, engage, and retain customers.
  6. Digital Transformation: Embrace digital technologies to optimize marketing operations and customer experiences.
  7. Lead Generation: Implement targeted campaigns to generate high-quality leads and drive conversions.
  8. Customer Experience: Enhance the end-to-end customer journey to increase satisfaction and loyalty.
  9. Measurement and ROI: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track marketing effectiveness.
  10. Continuous Optimisation: Continuously test, learn, and optimise marketing strategies and tactics for ongoing improvement.

What Are My Options to Get CMO Expertise Into My Business?

When it comes to accessing CMO expertise, businesses have several options to consider:

  1. Employ a Full-Time CMO: The most obvious and traditional option is to hire a dedicated CMO as a full-time employee offering the advantage of having a committed leader driving the company's marketing efforts on a day-to-day basis. However, this approach may require significant investment and commitment.
  2. Outsource to a Marketing Agency: For businesses looking for a comprehensive marketing solution, outsourcing to a marketing agency can provide access to a full suite of services and expertise across various disciplines, from branding and creative to digital and traditional marketing. However, this is usually a short-term option and your due diligence process to find the right supplier needs to be carefully considered.
  3. Hire a Fractional CMO: For companies that may not need a full-time CMO or prefer a more flexible arrangement, hiring a fractional CMO or virtual CMO on a part-time or contract basis can be a viable solution. This allows businesses to access top-tier talent without the overhead costs of a full-time hire. Read more in our blog 10 Ways a Fractional CMO Can Grow a Business.
  4. Hire a Marketing Consultant: Another option is to engage the services of a marketing consultant to provide strategic guidance, expertise, and support on a project basis. This can be particularly beneficial for companies seeking specialised skills or a fresh perspective on their marketing challenges. Read more in our article Why Hiring Marketing Experts Trumps Full-Time Leaders.

What to Look for When Sourcing a CMO.

When you begin the journey of finding the perfect CMO for your business, there are many considerations. It is easy to become myopic and think all CMOs are cut from the same cloth – they’re not. The key qualities you need to evaluate will vary depending on your sector, business size and nature of the marketing challenge, but generally you should consider:

  • Experience and Expertise: Look for candidates with a proven track record of success in strategic marketing leadership roles.
  • Industry Knowledge: Seek candidates with experience in your industry or a related field to ensure they understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing your business.
  • Collaborative Leadership: Find a CMO who can work effectively with cross-functional teams and collaborate with other departments to achieve common goals.
  • Innovative Thinking: Prioritize candidates who demonstrate creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace new ideas and technologies.
  • Results Orientation: Choose a CMO who is driven by outcomes and has a strong focus on delivering measurable results that align with business objectives.


In today's increasingly competitive business landscape, having a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is no longer a luxury—it's a necessity. From shaping the overall marketing strategy to driving sustainable growth and innovation, the CMO plays a critical role in steering the company towards success. By recognizing the importance of this role and investing in the right talent and resources, businesses can position themselves for long-term growth, profitability, and market leadership.

About the Author

Paul Bennett is a Fractional Marketing Executive in the VCMO network and the former Global Brand Director of AXA. He brings a wealth of experience in brand transformation and marketing strategy having successfully led AXA's complete brand overhaul, propelling it to become one of the top 3 global Financial Services brands. Read his full bio.

About VCMO

VCMO helps SMEs and investor-backed portfolio companies with a £2 million or higher turnover that operate without a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. Our Fractional CMOs and tailored services transform marketing potential into a competitive advantage that delivers scalable and predictable growth, increased profits, and enhanced enterprise value.

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Paul Bennett
Virtual Chief Marketing officer

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