CMOs Should Ask Tough Questions Before Taking a Job Offer

CmoThe average job tenure of a chief marketing officer at an Am law 200 law firm is a brief 4 years. (Click on the graphic to see it full-size.) For smaller firms, the average tenure is worse -- only 18-24 months, according to an article by Julie D. Andrews in the September/October 2006 issue of Law Firm Inc. (Unfortunately the article is not online, so you'll have to get a hard copy by calling 212.545.6111.)

The article lists all the questions a marketer should ask when applying for a CMO job.  But marketers should realize that after taking say, a $400,000 salary, the partners will ask a year later, "what did we get back for all that money?" CMOs must be able to show a return-on-investment. 

This means launching initiatives that are planned from the start to be measurable.  The initiative must show a profit in the first year.  This means blowing past all the marcomm, public relations, advertising and other marketing initiatives that can't be measured.  Focus on getting your lawyers face-to-face with clients and prospects.  See "New Research: Professional Firms can Increase Revenues by Measuring Business Development Initiatives."

The common mistake CMOs make is empire-building.  They'll take a high-paying job and hire 50 or more people in the department.  Even if a marketer tells the firm in advance that this is what they're going to do, it's a sure way to lose your job.  The streets are littered with out-of-work CMOs who used to supervise legions of staff.

And as the article points out, the most critical question is "whom will I report to?"  If you report to the staff administrator or COO, don't take the job.  The CMO post is a strategic position and should report to the management committee, managing partner or a permanent marketing partner.  The CMO should arrive at the firm with a "seat at the table" already.

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Innovation & Trust - October 7, 2006 4:14 PM
I havent discussed measurable marketing initiatives yet, which is a shame because its one of the most important fuzzy business decisions that most companies assume dont require hard analysis, measurement and good busi...
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