The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Brand Strategy Marketing

2025 is the time for CMOs to elevate their game in the boardroom

By Nick Primola, Group EVP of the Global CMO Growth Council

July 8, 2024 | 5 min read

Fresh from helping to launch The Drum’s Great Marketing Makeover, Nick Primola from the Association of National Advertisers shares how CMOs can strengthen their position at the decision-making table.

The Drum's Gordon Young interviews the ANA's Nick Primola

Nick Primola, right, in conversation with The Drum's Gordon Young at the launch of The Great Marketing Makeover / The Drum

Marketing as a discipline has evolved dramatically. It now encompasses customer experience, strategy, talent, technology, data, and most importantly, growth and sales. Marketers must be more attuned to consumer needs than ever before, and they are increasingly leading the charge in these areas. However, despite the expanding scope and critical importance of marketing, many CEOs and other C-suite stakeholders still lack a clear understanding of what the marketing function truly does.

McKinsey data shows that companies leveraging marketing and branding as key growth drivers are nearly twice as likely to achieve over 5% topline growth. Yet, there’s a significant disconnect: only 44% of CMOs believe their CEOs are comfortable with modern marketing. As CMOs plan and budget for 2025, bridging this gap is crucial.

Powered by AI

Explore frequently asked questions

None of this should be a revelation to chief marketers, but it is striking to see it quantified so clearly. This is not merely a marketing issue; it’s a business issue. CEOs who do not enhance their understanding of marketing are leaving substantial growth opportunities on the table. As 2025 initiatives are prioritized, it’s imperative that CMOs take the initiative to start this conversation within their C-suite. Here are three key areas to focus on:

1. Develop a blueprint for marketing’s role

Marketers need to find a common language with business leaders. It’s essential for marketers to speak in terms that CFOs and CEOs understand if they expect progress. For instance, 55% of CEOs measure marketing’s impact based on year-on-year revenue growth and margin, yet only 33% of CMOs track these as top metrics.

As we plan for 2025, marketers must pivot away from marketing-specific metrics and ensure their stakeholders understand how marketing drives value. Demonstrating this will help solidify the CMO’s place at the decision-making table. This doesn't mean marketers need to become financial experts, but they must use the same tools and language their executives use to show how marketing contributes to the organization’s value. Marketing’s role is not only to create demand but also to convert that demand into sales and profit. Using financial language, marketers can build a detailed framework to illustrate the impact of marketing on the business.

2. Help CEOs upgrade their modern marketing mentality

While CEOs should seek external sources to stay current on marketing developments, CMOs can facilitate this process. Encourage your CEO to spend time with the marketing team to understand their interactions across the business and with customers. Provide the C-suite with case studies and trend reports in easily digestible formats, ensuring they grasp how marketing drives growth. Incorporate these educational materials into your budgeting plans for Q1 and beyond.

3. Measure what matters to drive the growth agenda

Align with the CEO and CFO on the company’s overall goals, then create a measurement framework that links your marketing KPIs directly to these goals. Develop a dashboard for monitoring progress, allowing for course corrections or increased investment as necessary.

We are at a pivotal moment for CMOs. The marketing function has transformed, yet many current C-suite executives still hold outdated views of marketing’s role. This not only complicates marketers’ jobs but also risks perpetuating these misconceptions to future leaders. We cannot cultivate the next generation of marketing-savvy leaders if they do not understand the strategic power of marketing.

It’s the CMO’s responsibility to ensure CEOs have a foundational understanding of marketing’s integral role in growth. By elevating their mentality and knowledge, the business will increasingly turn to marketing for growth strategies. While “growth” may be owned by everyone in the organization, marketing can be the unifying force that drives it. When this happens, data shows that growth follows.

Nick Primola is group EVP of the Global CMO Growth Council at the Association of National Advertisers

Brand Strategy Marketing

More from Brand Strategy

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +