November 21, 2022
Is personal branding vital and valuable to CMO status and influence, both inside and outside the organization? What are you doing to become a recognized authority leader and brand spokesperson? Does this benefit your role, value and stature? Are you investing more in new digital channels to increase your personal visibility and gravitas?
This past week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article in its CMO Today section. Written by Patrick Coffee, it referenced the findings of a CMO Council LinkedIn poll we fielded in early November. There were 186 respondents from our advisory board and general membership groups. We featured one question with three multiple choice answers to determine whether the reporter’s supposition was true: “More CMOs are Investing in Their Personal Brand.”
As it turns out, they certainly are.
Our question: “Are you actively building your personal CMO brand and increasing your visibility as an authority leader and brand voice?”
We found 80% of those participating are either actively working on elevating their personal brands, or plan to do more of it as evidenced by the data below:
• Yes, actively doing this: 63 respondents (34%)
• Planning to do more of this: 85 respondents (46%)
• No, not on my priority list: 71 respondents (20%)
Tom Kaneshige, Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council, thinks the new driver for CMOs building personal brands is that the job has changed, and they need to show that they’re still relevant, especially given shortened CMO tenure. That is, they need to show that they’ve made the transition to digital and data and have the skills to lead marketing’s new role in the top-of-the-funnel sales action and revenue growth.
Here’s my view (and experience) on why CMOs should want to build, define, and shape a personal brand persona:
• Positioning themselves as authority leaders in their industry or market sector
• Gaining the respect and mindshare of customers and the distribution ecosystem
• Attracting new partners and forging relevant alliances through networking
• Raising their credibility, influence, value and respect across the organization and C-suite
• Preparing for the next opportunity; gaining the attention of executive recruiters
• Entrenching their title and territory; helping advance the budget and clout of marketing
• Strengthening promotion, retention and compensation prospects in the organization
Today’s modern CMO is challenged to be the strategic architect, customer advocate, creative champion, digital change agent and informed authority on market dynamics and competitive challenges. This remit covers revenue/growth, product innovation, CX, digital transformation, organizational branding, and data utilization at velocity. Internal competition is fierce given the proliferation of chief titles encroaching on what we believe to be the CMO role.
In many cases, executive communications specialists (in-house PR handlers or agency staff) are assigned to cultivate the CMO’s personal brand identity through content marketing, media interviews, social media postings, speeches, presentations, memberships, and advocacy positions on topics that underscore their company’s marketing agenda, brand purpose/promise, corporate values or commitments, and ESG achievements.
We find many of our CMO Council members stepping up as brand spokespersons and articulate, informed company voices. This can involve taking the lead in submitting and receiving awards; leveraging sponsorships (sports, entertainment, cause or benefit-related investments); as well as containing issues or crises. The latter might result from product quality problems or recalls, social media backlash, brand hijacking/protection, data security, breach recovery, disaster relief, global events (brand exodus from the Ukraine), and regulatory compliance and transparency.
Might be a good idea to do a little self-assessment on the credibility, trust, influence, and respect of your personal brand. Most notably among key stakeholders, such as the C-suite, board, sales and channel organizations, customers, industry groups and staff members in your own organization. Remember, reputation is an earned asset, not the result of posturing and propaganda. Much the same as “good countries” become more loved “nation brands,” through actions not words.
Donovan Neale-May is the Founder and Executive Director of the CMO Council, the Growth Officer Council (www.growthguidancecenter.com), and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network (www.bpinetwork.org), a global community of executive change agents driving business reinvention, IT transformation, and process improvement across the enterprise.
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