What Firms Can Learn from Facebook's CMO Hire

This week, Facebook hired its first Chief Marketing Officer ("Facebook hires first marketing chief from Motorola Mobility"). I find it interesting that Facebook has taken this long to hire a CMO. Even the big boys don't always see the value of elevating marketing to C-level status.

We see similar structures with professional service firms. Most of the time you see titles like "Marketing Manager" or "Marketing Director". Even then, those are feel good titles because these folks may be one-person departments doing more doing than managing or directing.

Let's give firms the benefit of the doubt and assume that marketing is truly being managed or directed. That's really the second phase of the process.

  1. First, appropriate marketing goals need to be set (the strategy part).
  2. Then, a plan needs to be created and tailored toward meeting those goals (the operations part).
  3. Lastly, someone needs to take action on the marketing plan (the implementation part).

Why is it that step 1, the strategic part of marketing, is ignored? We realize that strategy is needed for the overall business (CEO), for financials (CFO), for daily operations (COO), and for IT (CIO). So, why is it that strategy seems to be absent for marketing (CMO)? In fact, the findings from a recent survey in the June 2013 Marketer published by the Society for Marketing Professional Services supported this. The article "How Marketers Spend Their Time: Narrowing in on High-Value Marketing Activities" noted that "lack of attention to strategic planning..." was one of the top areas where firms could improve.

Marketing is just something that many firms end up doing without a true strategy. Maybe it's because technology makes it easy to do things and convince yourself that you're being productive. Or, maybe it's because we water down our marketing to a set of tasks that we can check off our to-do list. "I wrote a proposal today." Check. "I 'Liked' something today." Check. "I went to a networking event today." All great actions, but they are just a bunch of randomness if they aren't contributing to the organization's overall strategy.

The article doesn't state exactly why Facebook took this step now after going public over a year ago. I'm guessing it has something to do with a perceived expectation of shareholders. Whatever the reason, I'm sure it was no accident that they decided to make this hire at this time.

So, here's the real question. When should the ”little guys” hire a CMO? From the beginning? After getting some experience under the business' belt? How about once you're ready to get serious about your marketing playing a key role in the minds of your internal and external customers.

It's time for all of us to elevate marketing to a strategic status, where it's always belonged. Marketing can no longer be an after thought.

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