No two CMOs are exactly alike.
Jeremy Burton of Dell is an engineer-turned-marketer. Marisa Thalberg worked for beauty brands before joining Taco Bell. And Chipotle’s Mark Crumpacker used to run his own creative agency.
Despite their differences, however, they’re all part of one elite group: The World’s 50 Most Influential CMOs.
In this new report, Forbes, Sprinklr, and LinkedIn teamed up to showcase marketing leaders who drive the greatest impact across their organizations, social audiences, and peer groups.
While these CMOs each bring unique skills and experiences to their positions, they’re joined by several common threads.
Here are five notable traits that connect the 50 most influential CMOs.
Top CMOs know that social media isn’t just for sharing marketing messages; it’s also an important tool for starting conversations and exercising influence among their networks. That’s why they’re noticeably more active on social than other CMOs are.
According to the report, 45 of the top 50 CMOs are on Twitter, and 49 are on LinkedIn. These CMOs also have 2x as many LinkedIn connections, 2.5x as many Twitter followers, and 2x as many posts as the average big-brand CMO.
In this socially driven world, companies must shift from a brand-first mindset to a customer-first mindset. CMOs have the power to lead this transformation; top CMOs exert that power.
Take HP CMO Antonio Lucio, for example. He led a major push for diversity within the organization so HP’s marketing team could better reflect its diverse audience. His leadership team is now 50% women – up from 20%.
This team launched HP’s “Keep Reinventing” campaign, tapping social influencers and artists to help revitalize the 78-year-old brand and reach consumers aged 28-34.
Forty-two percent of the most influential CMOs work for tech, telecommunications, or internet companies. In fact, four of the top five CMOs are in this sector, with leaders from HP, Apple, GE, and Twitter heading this list.
While these executives earn their influence on social media, they also may be in the right industry at the right time.
As the report states, “Given the exceptionally high degree of social network usage in those communities, a large audience closely following every move, tweet, or status update is virtually standard-issue for tech CMOs.”
The most influential CMOs are more diverse than the average pool of CMOs worldwide. On average, only 19% of CMOs are female. Among the top 50 CMOs, however, that number rises to 33%. Just look at the top 10 CMOs on our list. Three are women and another three are men of color.
As GE CMO Linda Boff said, “I am so proud of the women on our boards and our leadership. We do well when it comes to women at the top ranks.”
Top CMOs may enjoy their positions now, but they know not to get too comfortable. Most of these marketing leaders have held their current titles for three years or less. In fact, one-fifth of these CMOs have been in their roles for less than two years.
These top executives are open to embracing professional changes and finding opportunities to further their careers.
The most influential CMOs bring their own talents and experiences to the table. They each have uniquely impressive backgrounds that have made them who are today.
When you view them all together, however, you can’t help but notice a few distinct similarities. Most of these top CMOs are vocal on social media, active in the tech industry, and willing and able to drive changes across their companies.
As the marketing landscape continues to shift, these leaders remain at the helm because their influence and ability to adapt. CMOs across the world would be wise to learn from their successes.
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