“Marketers have a skillset that should be utilized for things outside of just improving the bottom line but if you can prove your value in numbers, you’re much more likely to be trusted with budget, and the sky’s the limit for creative opportunities,” says Cristy Garcia, Chief Marketing Officer, impact.com in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: Why has the role of CMO been predominantly female in recent years?
Cristy Garcia: I think people are drawn into careers based on gender roles growing up. Men are stereotypically drawn to Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics (STEM) roles where women tend to gravitate towards things like reading and writing, or more creative roles. Marketing is still predominantly female, but we’ve recently seen more of a shift and merging of the two, with more women entering into STEM careers and more men entering into marketing.
That said, the majority of CMO’s are still male, but we know that female leaders are underrepresented in leadership roles across the board. Female CMO’s actually are catching up and make up about 47% of the total, the second closest male / female ratio, only followed by Chief Human Resource Officers (55% female). There’s still a ways to go here for gender equality, but I am happy to see more women leaders in marketing, hopefully paving the way for other female executives in “non-traditional” female roles like CFO and CEO.
TCMO Bureau: Typically, individuals aren’t in the CMO role for very long – the average is actually around 40 months compared to a CEO’s tenure of 80 months. How do we judge what makes a good CMO?
Cristy Garcia: Since the introduction of attribution in digital marketing and advertising, marketing leaders are now able to prove the revenue and pipeline contribution of marketing efforts. And when you can tie your performance to revenue growth, you’re pretty tough to get rid of. I think many marketers have begrudgingly come to terms with this, and now understand how important it is to “think like a CFO” in order to secure marketing budgets and then have more freedom to do the creative things we enjoy and know make a big impact.
No marketer wants to be painted into a corner and creativity is what really drives performance whether there is a direct path to revenue or not. Marketers have a skillset that should be utilized for things outside of just improving the bottom line but if you can prove your value in numbers, you’re much more likely to be trusted with budget, and the sky’s the limit for creative opportunities.
Equally, employers should know enough by now to value the role of the marketer but it’s essential to make sure expectations on both sides are aligned. CMOs take on so many different roles – as a CMO you have to be a data and/or financial analyst, an engaging presenter, a writer, a sales person, culture and branding expert, media consultant who can also handle crisis communications, the industry expert, an advertiser who understands what drives consumers to purchase, an attribution specialist and above average communicator. If you aren’t crystal clear on your role, you can find yourself leading every major company initiative that doesn’t involve developing the actual product.
TCMO Bureau: Marketing is an ever-changing skill. With new, more interactive channels taking centre stage, how will marketing keep up?
Cristy Garcia: It can become a bit of a circus, especially with so many different social channels but we’ve found that there is a time and a place for everything. Great marketing used to be tied to catchy jingles, then compelling white papers and informative e-books but now more modernized snackable and visual marketing pieces take first place. People want 30-second TikToks and six-second video ads and so, marketers have had to pivot.
But if you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, you’re already familiar with not getting too attached to a particular channel or format because technology has made trends like these move at lightning speed. We have to be experts with that quick elevator pitch, and short snippets of information on new platforms. We have to keep up with the ever-changing interests of consumers to ensure the success of our marketing programs
TCMO Bureau: With summer just around the corner and many events making a comeback after the pandemic, as a CMO are you jumping fully back in?
Cristy Garcia: I’m cautiously optimistic. We know that the world is just different now. None of us can gaze into a crystal ball to predict what is going to happen. But we can take precautions: at impact.com, we won’t sign a contract to sponsor an event unless there is a COVID cancellation policy, and full refund should there be an issue. Even if it is more expensive, we wait until the last minute to buy travel as we’d rather pay more for the flight than have to cancel. We have to operate in this new world where nothing is certain and although we are so ready for in person events, dinners, parties and the like, we’re always prepared for things to go differently.
Some advice: if you are hosting an event yourself, ensure there is a virtual element along with the in-person piece so you can be 100% prepared. Virtual events are no longer just plan B.
TCMO Bureau: Finally, what do you think makes a modern female CMO successful in 2022?
Cristy Garcia: With the modern-day marketer balancing so many different roles at once, you really need to be able to rely on your team and I feel so fortunate to work alongside the team I have. The most rewarding part of my job is mentoring other marketers and providing them with the opportunities I was fortunate to have. And as women, we’re naturally more empathetic, which is helpful in times of stress like the past two years, to pick up on mental health issues or just burnout on the team.
Empathy makes the best leaders even more effective, but it makes marketers uber-successful. Understanding your audience and what drives them, acknowledging what strengths and weaknesses exist within your organization (and yourself!) the ability to read the room and study body language, getting out of your own head and really focusing on the world around you – these are rarely spoken about traits of the best marketers I know.
Last piece of advice: don’t ever get comfortable or complacent and always push yourself creatively. Let your light shine bright. Show your business the importance of the CMO and why you are the right choice for the role in everything you do.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Cristy Ebert Garcia spearheads impact.com’s marketing, events, public relations and communications, demand generation, branding, website, design and social media. Named by Business Insider as one of “The Most Important Marketing-Tech Executives of 2021,” Cristy leads an award-winning team of marketers.