I subscribe to a lot of newsletters. The other day, I received a newsletter from the company How To SaaS. This not a plug. I have zero idea about the value of their service or product offering. At a high level, it appears to be an agency-like model that helps provide C-level marketing to medium-size or bigger businesses. Feel free to look them up.

Today, I’m actually reflecting on the image that came in the email. See below:

Source: Shiv Narayanan of HowToSaaS

After seeing this image, I asked ChatGPT: How are the roles of CEO and CMO similar? It gave me 10 reasons. No matter what you do, when you’re a top leader in an organization much will be asked of you. I’ve gotten a taste of that serving as a co-founder and CMO at a startup. But, as a marketing consultant, I’ve also witnessed the need for cross-functionality if you want to maximize your effectiveness.

I’m often reflecting on the cost-benefit of my decisions. For the majority of my career, I’ve helped other’s execute their visions. It leaves me wondering. If my role as a CMO or head marketer will always lead me to this level of overlap, why not be the CEO? Is that crazy?

Hear me out. CMO’s aren’t even immune to the pain of raising venture capital. Personally, I know many founders hate this responsibility with a passion. The CMO role does come with some of the fun strategic stuff. However, your level of autonomy or sway in the decision process is tied to your relationship with the CEO. In startup world, marketing is largely an afterthought until a certain stage of growth anyways.

Here are my top 3 reasons I think this makes complete and utter sense.

  1. We’re in the Attention Generation. Performance media isn’t providing the same ROI story it did years ago. Brand is important but less impactful than in the past. Differentiated product is king. But, attention-grabbing storytelling is still a powerful necessity.
  2. Vision + Growth = Capital Raised. It’s a bit messier than this. The song and dance has evolved but slightly. An investor still wants to know how many dollars they’ll get back for each $1 they invest. CMOs drive growth. They are also uniquely good at positioning the vision for investors. Storytelling isn’t just for customers.
  3. Journey Control. I’m not sure there’s a position in the company with more intimate connection and knowledge around the customer journey. The role of CMO is psychological and operational. A CMO doesn’t win with crap product. But, they can crush when the business has its product dialed.

Why am I saying all of this? Because, I think it’s time to start my own company. The “New CMO” can’t hide behind the narrowness of brand and creative strategy, growth, and customer experience. And, they shouldn’t. With such clear overlap, why not take the reins? It’s fun to execute on strong visions for passionate founders. I’m just asking the next question. Why not mine?