The Most Impossible Job In The World

By Patrick McNerthney 

One of the worst jobs anyone could get anywhere– and this goes for private, public, and  non-profit organizations–is that of (cue eerie music) Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). It’s so bad, in fact, you literally couldn’t pay me to do it. 

Well, you couldn’t pay me less than 5.4 million U.S. dollars to do it. (You can see I’ve thought about this.) Oh, those poooooor CMOs. Well, “poor” may be the wrong word (see my note on 5.4 million dollars above), given their high social status, Ferraris, foie gras dinners, and whirlwind European vacations. So maybe it’s more, “Oh, dang, sorry CMOs, you have an impossible job.”

(I think this is foie gras but I wouldn’t know because I’m not a CMO.)

Why is this the case? Because everyone thinks CMOs are in control of marketing, and that’s a massive misconception. Marketing is everything that touches the market. That means the look and feel of the product or service (better known as UX or User Experience), the “green-global-sustaining factor,” customer service, tech support, sales, accounting, philanthropy, and even the intern’s behavior at a restaurant are all “marketing.”

And how much of that does the CMO have control of? Just like you and me: Zero, zilch, nada.

So when they’re in some C-level meeting,getting screamed at by The Board, and scrambling for answers to pointed questions like, “Why isn’t our marketing generating more sales?” they just don’t have the heart to respond, “Yo, your highness, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m in charge of PROMOTIONS, not marketing. My purview is the equivalent of putting a ‘Garage Sale’ sign in the front yard. That’s it. So get off my back.” 

And promotions in and of themselves are tough sledding. If you don’t believe me, look around your house or work right now, pick three (just three) products or services you use, then look them up on social media. See all those ads and posts and stuff? Cool. Now, search the category of these products or services(i.e., “accounting software,” “smart phones,” “athletic shoes,” etc.), and tell me what you see.

Hint: You will see nothing, because your phone or computer has exploded from the insane number of ads, posts, spam, testimonials, YouTube videos, etc. etc. etc. These brands push out a plethora or garbage to the world in a desperate attempt for attention. Their idea is, 100 more ads, 1,000 more robo calls, or 10,000 more mailers (can you believe we still still get mailers?) will magically transform someone with whom they have no relationship into not just  a customer, but a raving fan.  

Insane?  You bet!

(This is insane too but not as insane as the volume of promotions clogging the world.) 

That’s why the CMO is toast, no matter what. They’re in charge of promotions, not marketing (which no one understands). And the success rate of promoted content is…abysmal. 

So what should a good CMO do? Focus on what they can control—ensuring they represent a product or service that customers will want to tell other people about. Which means earning trust and permission (usually by making and keeping promises). Which ALSO means connecting to the heart of what people care about, creating community, and ultimately being both selfless and generous. 

I mean, how attractive is THAT? In fact, it’s alluring…almost irresistible, and certainly rare. (Are you thinking: Gandhi?)

But it’s the best promotion any CMO could ever do. Hmmm…maybe I should be a business consultant to Fortune 500 companies or something. Ah well, I might if I wasn’t darn sure it would cut into my blogging and parenting time..

Ahem. I have a good example of an organization that creates and provides services their customers tell other people about all the time: Fine Art Miracles (FAM)! FAM helps the elderly, children with challenges, and anyone needing help with daily life overcome loneliness, boredom and the anxiety and depression they experience from social isolation, through creative expression. Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Drama Therapy, Multi-Sensory Sessions reconnect your residents and loved ones with joy, hope, optimism, self-worth, confidence, and the belief that they both BELONG and MATTER. 

That’s powerful stuff, and certainly worth talking about. Dang! FAM has this “promotions” thing DOWN. 

So what are you waiting for? Reach out to FAM today to learn more and get started. I’m certain their services connect to the heart of what YOU care about. 

Okay,  enough of my Marketing 101 lecture. The truth is, I don’t know anything, but I learn as I go by listening to people smarter than me. AND, as for me, don’t you worry—I have no CMO offer letters in my near or distant future. 

I could use 5.4 million dollars though. If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.


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