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What the Heck Are We Doing Wrong?

August 12th, 2008 by Bob Bly

According to an article in B-to-B, the average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) earned $1.5 million last year.

Let’s say you are a copywriter or marketing consultant, and you earn $100,000 a year.

The average CMO earns 15X more than you do.

What do they know about marketing that you and I don’t?

What makes the average CMO worth 15X more in the marketplace than the average copywriter or marketing consultant?

Any thoughts?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 at 3:36 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

31 responses about “What the Heck Are We Doing Wrong?”

  1. Sam Patton said:

    Maybe, they know enough to hire us to make them look good.

  2. Dianna Huff said:

    Stress. They deal with stress, the CEO suite, the CFO who complains they spend too much money for too little return, sales guys who complain about lead quality, travel, trade shows, multiple time zones, BlackBerry calls from Australia at 12:30 at night, and a whole bunch of other stuff we don’t have to deal with.

    Plus, the average CMO lasts two years. I’ve been in business 10.

    I make less but have job security and peace of mind. Plus, I don’t take calls at 12:30 AM.

  3. Dave Dolak said:

    Probably the biggest thing they know is how to deal with people with all different types of personalities and styles and somehow manage to keep them all happy enough together to work toward the same goal. That sounds easy, but dealing with people is the most difficult part of anyone’s job and most good CEO’s just have a way of making everyone seem happy, satisfied and good about themselves.

    Having a firm handle on and deep knowledge in financials doesn’t hurt either.

  4. John W. Furst said:

    We are talking about averages here, right?

    The average CMOs have an ‘organization’ — a machine — working for them bringing in money on a regular basis. Some of those machine work better some suck, but still work somehow.

    The average copywriters might be lonely wolves working from project to project. In addition they probably cannot command or have not heard about royalties. The word average also implies, they are not ‘A’ level copywriters.

    Shall I continue?

    Yours John

  5. Charles Cuninghame said:


    Earier in my career I was shocked to discover that many people with “marketing” in their job titles didn’t know the first thing about marketing.

    (A great book on this topic is Your Marketing Sucks by Mark Stevens.)

    What these marketing executives do know is how to play the game of corporate executive.

    Like Dianna Huff, I’d prefer to play my own game, even if I am earning 10 times less pay.

  6. mark allen roberts said:

    Have to agree with Charles…most of the CMO’s I have worked with do not know the true definition of marketing.

    Some think its advertising; some think its coffee mugs and ball caps with the company logo.

    How about you, your readers?

    Let’s have some fun with this, ask your readers to define marketing.

    Mark Allen Roberts

  7. James said:

    The average CMO has to show up at work from 8 to 5 every day.

    Me… I’d rather work 6 hours a week…

  8. Bob Bly said:

    James: And, the CMO is at the beck and call of the CEO and other people, perpetually attached to them via a variety of wireless devices.

  9. Clarke Echols said:

    CMOs typically have MBAs. MBAs are the only people who can run a business. Don’t belive it? Ask anyone on Wall Street.

    Of course Wall Street is populated by MBAs — in economics, finance, or whatever… So they *know* only MBAs are qualified to run a company.

    But what’s an MBA?

    An MBA is a kid who like business so he (or she) went to college and took some barnyard solid waste classes in business, taught by some character called a “professor”.

    What’s a professor?

    A kid who took some barnyard solid waste classes until he got enough of them to get a barnyard solid waste degree called a BS. He then took more and more of those same kinds of classes until he got a more-of-the-same degree called an MS. Then continued more of the same until they were so piled higher and deeper he got a piled-higher-and-deeper degree called a PhD.

    That meant he was qualified to teach business, even though he’d never run a business in his life. He then got a book written by some other guy with a piled-higher-and-deeper degree who’d never run a business so he could teach our aforementioned future MBA.

    The kid he taught went through the same process of taking classes about how to run somebody else’s company, until he got enough of them to get the MS renamed an MBA so he could get a job running somebody else’s company, though he’d never run one either, just like the professor and textbook authors.

    And that is the disease that plagues American corporations.

    I ran this by a close friend who used to be the plant manager for a major manufacturer of products used by nearly everyone who might read this. The name is recognized throughout the US, but shall remain nameless. He agreed with me,
    then after saying I was absolutely right, he told me he had an MBA.

    There are high-school dropouts who make more money than some corporate CEOs, and a whole lot of CMOs and CFOs.

    I have two kids with business degrees. One graduated com laude. The other has had oversight responsibility for as many as 35 college-grad professionals in a major computer company. They don’t necessarily agree with my
    previously stated opinion. We’ll see if time
    changes their outlook. 🙂


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    I have a business degree…but it doesn’t mean anything more than confirming I turned up to some classess in a room full of other students and mangaged to turn in assigned tasks on time in most cases.

    Sure I learnt stuff, but I am sure if I have been in ‘sales’ door to door I would have learnt more about selling to people, and business operations than I did in uni.

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