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B2B insights | How to target the chief marketing officer

B2B marketing is a tough business. If you’re looking to sell complex tech — whether an IT system, business solution or marketing technology — then you need to gain access to the right stakeholders.

In this series, we’re going to be looking at some of the key individuals who influence the B2B buying process. Combining data from hundreds of C-level professionals, along with our own expertise in B2B comms, we’ll be sharing insights to help tech brands reach senior B2B buyers.

This time, we’ll be looking at a person who is the final decision maker in 68% of B2B martech buying decisions… the chief marketing officer, or CMO.

What does today’s CMO look like?

Unfortunately, when most people picture a CMO they’re probably thinking of a middle-aged white guy in a suit. In some ways, they wouldn’t be far off. Despite growing M/F gender diversity among CMOs, just 15% are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

Our survey also reveals that the average CMO is between 40 and 52 years old, boasting over 25 years’ experience in marketing and tech. Across this timespan the average CMO has worked for between 3-4 companies, with four years per company.

Despite these job moves, 63% have stayed in the same industry or sector for their entire careers.

CMO Data 2023

Image: What does the average CMO look like in 2023?

What is the typical CMO personality type?

CMOs have a growth mindset. They want to make their mark and aren’t afraid to take (informed) risks.

As many as 85% are determined to make a big difference to their businesses, while 87% say that ambition is key to success. If B2B brands want to impress the CMO, they need to appeal to that ambitious mindset. They need to demonstrate how their product, service or solution can help turn their ambitions into action… and fast.

To do this, B2B sellers need to prove that their products are adding business value, helping CMOs show that their marketing efforts are working. As one chief marketing officer described it, “I’m a bit like Tigger on Red Bull. I don’t want to wait six or nine months to find out if our marketing has worked or not.”

CMO personality types

Image: CMO personality traits in 2023

What are CMOs prioritising right now?

CMOs are putting a lot of thought into customer experience right now. In fact, it’s their number one priority. Second to this is delivering impact for their businesses and third is making things happen through fast, informed, decisions.

In short, these are people looking at the big picture. If B2B brands or tech vendors want to impress them, they need to start a conversation at that level.

CMO Focus for 2023

Image: What are CMO’s priorities in the year ahead?

What do CMOs look for when buying tech?

These are people who already know the importance of technology and data. They also get big ideas like ‘omnichannel marketing’. You don’t need to sell them on the dream.

While a lot of CMOs may describe themselves as ‘risk-takers’, they don’t buy technology on a whim.

What they want is proof of concept. Has this product or service made a difference before? Can it, very rapidly, make a difference to their customers or brand?

If you can answer those questions, you’ve got your foot in the door.

Recommendations from other CMOs — and examples of work with similar businesses — are key. But remember, CMOs also care about the type of company they do business with. They need to be on the same wavelength, and to know that a vendor’s ambition matches their own.

Who impacts the CMO decision making b2b

Image: Who impacts CMO decision making in 2023?

How do CMOs find new tech? What sources do they trust?

When it comes to technology, CMOs may not know exactly what they want, but they do have a good idea of what they need. They have broad business goals they’re looking to fulfil, and as long as your B2B solution matches those goals, then you’re on your way to a very happy future relationship.

CMOs use multiple sources to find the best marketing tech, so cast your net wide to really grab their attention. That said, events, industry media, and personal recommendations are their go-to sources for information (and they’re just as likely to be speaking at an event as attending!).

When it comes to targeting CMOs via the press, it’s industry media that has the real impact. A few appearances on TV or in national newspapers will do little to build your brand’s reputation with the CMO.

CMO Tech decision making

Image: How do CMO’s purchase new technologies in 2023?

Do CMOs value creativity?

At Wildfire, we’re big believers that B2B marketing and PR doesn’t have to be boring. When it comes to targeting the CMO, it’s important to remember that these people are bombarded with content — most of it looking and sounding exactly the same.

All B2B buyers are people (even the chief marketing office!) They want to be informed but also entertained. Creative campaigns are a great way to achieve both objectives, cutting through the noise and grabbing a CMO’s attention. Too many B2B brands forget the power of creativity and the value of a good story.

B2B Tech buyer CMO

Are CMOs on social media?

If you’re looking to grab the CMO’s attention, then you shouldn’t overlook social media. The majority of CMOs are on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook — but how they use these channels varies dramatically.

LinkedIn is where they are the most engaged. They post, comment, follow and connect with industry pros. Many CMOs are on Twitter, but follower numbers and engagement levels are low. They’re way more likely to listen and learn than to actively participate.

Do CMOs use social media

Image: What social media channels do CMOs use in 2023?

How can I reach the CMO through marketing and PR?

We’re glad you asked! Wildfire’s team of consultants specialise in working with martech brands, building bold, insightful and creative campaigns that actually hit home with the audiences that matter.

From Emarsys to Optimizely, Salesforce to Acxiom, we’ve helped some of the world’s biggest martech companies build effective PR campaigns.

Looking to target CMOs or similar marketing audiences? Drop our team an email and we’ll set up a chat, or check out our latest martech case studies.

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Wildfire Labs

About the Author

Wildfire Labs explores intelligence, insights and trends from the world of tech marketing and PR. Articles and content by Alex Warren, Tim Richardson, Rebecca Quin and Paula Fifield. If you'd like to learn more about any of our trends or our team, contact labs@wildfirepr.com.