How CMO’s Can Tackle the Art and Science of Marketing


The Chief Marketing Officer is one of the toughest jobs at the c-level. CMO’s are tasked with such a wide range of roles – developing the brand, acquiring customers, delivering thought leadership, managing media relationships, handling crisis communications, driving internal employee alignment, creating investor content, being the face of the company in keynote addresses, tracking key metrics, and more. It’s a truly “left brain” and “right brain” role that requires both ART and SCIENCE. 

Given that dichotomy, it’s no surprise that skepticism of any one individual’s ability to do it all is high (according to HBR 80% of CEO’s don’t trust CMO’s!) and CMO tenures are the lowest at the c-level (according to Forbes, average CMO tenure is just 35 months!). But even more interesting is that you often see companies vacillating between what they perceive to be  two “types” of CMOs: 

Does this scenario sound familiar? The outward-facing “art” type CMO launches a splashy rebrand and then is constantly on the road doing interviews and keynote speeches, but becomes disconnected from the numbers and as a result performance suffers. The next CMO is then an inward facing “science” type CMO who focuses on building the all-powerful data stack and measuring every customer interaction, but gets so mired in the weeds that their key audiences – prospects, clients, partners and even employees – lose track of what the brand is all about…and then the pendulum swings the other way…

The fact is, you need both sides of the equation…at the same time. But it’s not easy. The best CMO’s I’ve worked with have the innate ability to deliver both – but they’ve been forced to emphasize one side or the other due to limitations of current technologies.

Great CMO’s that have chosen to emphasize the “art” side actually have the ability to dive deeply into the data, but they know that creating trust-worthy data is a quagmire that will prevent them from doing the outward part of the job, so they delegate or deprioritize it. Meanwhile great CMO’s that have chosen to emphasize the “science” side have the charisma and creativity to preach their message to the world, but they’ve prioritized capturing and measuring the data, which ends up being a sisyphean task (ie. trying to push a boulder up a hill). Unfortunately, whichever side of the equation you choose to emphasize – art or science, inward or outward – your job will always be incomplete.

At Octane11, we’ve seen this pendulum swing play out over and over – and ultimately, we believe that choosing one side or the other is a false choice. Our mission is to help B2B CMO’s do BOTH. We take care of the mundane data integration, transformation and enrichment work, so great B2B CMO’s can leverage ANY marketing tools and tactics they want from ANY vendor they want, and have ALL of the tracking and measurement set up easily, so they can test and learn and be scientific, and ALSO have time for the art of being creative and spending time with key audiences. Octane11 accomplishes this by delivering a standardized data integration, transformation and enrichment platform, specifically for B2B, so you can get started quickly – and get out into the world! 

If you’re a marketing leader and you feel like you’re leaning too far to one side of the art/science spectrum and need help getting back to center, give us a call!