The average tenure for a CMO is just over three and a half years, according to new research from Winmo, a sales intelligence platform. With more than eight years of research analyzing the career track of 2,400 CMOs across various industry, the report revealed the average tenure for a CMO was 42.7 months, with the median CMO career lasting 33 months. Winmo’s report offered a broad range of data for agencies and media companies aiming to build relationships with C-level marketing leaders.
What the average CMO tenure means for ad agencies and solution providers. Winmo says more CMOs move out of their positions sometime between their 30- and 45-month anniversary. Based on this data, the company said the best time to connect with CMOs is within their first year on the job.
“We’ve found the sweet spot for engaging with CMOs is soon after they’ve started a new role, within three to twelve months,” reports Winmo. This means any agency trying to win over a new client by way of its CMO should be aware of how long the marketing lead has been in their position.
Winmo offered a “CMO Opportunity Timeline” based on its research, highlighting how an agency of record (AOR) is often named six to eighteen months after the CMO is hired. Within twelve to eighteen months after the AOR is determined, a campaign is launched — only to have a new CMO brought in three to six months after the campaign launch, restarting the entire cycle from ground zero.
Preparing for the “changing of guards” within the CMO role. When working with a CMO that is approaching the three-year mark, Winmo recommends shifting to an account-based marketing strategy as this is usually the timeline for a potential change in leadership. Such shifts in the lead marketing role often result in agency and partner reviews as a new executive takes over the CMO office.
“Look for the next-most senior marketers within the organization and start your outreach. There’s a good chance one of them might be the next CMO or have strong influences on anyone incoming to that role.”
Winmo says CMOs often have less time to achieve business objectives compared to the rest of the C-suite because CEOs frequently look to the new CMO as the “magic bullet” and charge them with getting the business moving in the right direction. At 3.6 years, CMO tenure, on average, is less than half the length of CEO tenure which is 7.2 years as determined by Equilar’s 2018 survey of S&P 500 CEOs.
CMO tenure by industry. When looking at CMO tenure across industries, Winmo found CMOs in traditional categories like financial services and travel have a six month longer than average tenure — with tenure for CMOs in the insurance industry stretching out 55 months.
The retail industry has a faster turnover rate than average for CMOs, with tenure at 36 months. CMOs within the digital business provider category have the shortest shelf life, with the average tenure lasting only 29 months. Digital business providers do have the most balanced gender parity as far as the number of female CMOs versus male CMOs when compared to other industries.
Overall, the split between the number of male CMOs (58 percent) versus female CMOs (42 percent) is more equal than any other C-level role. But, tenure for female CMOs was five months shorter than male CMOs.
Why you should care. For many agencies and marketing solution providers, the final call on whether or not a potential client is going to enlist your business or service comes down to the CMO. No matter how many employees you have on the inside championing your organization, a partnership is not likely to happen if the CMO is not on board.
Knowing where the CMO is within their tenure can provide insight into how quickly a client-agency partnership will move forward — or if it’s in an agency’s best interest to further build out their prospecting list within the company, and begin to win over executives who may be named the next CMO.