Getting in with the "In" crowd: How to put marketing back on the CEO's agenda

Philipp Klaus, Bo Edvardsson, Timothy L. Keiningham, Thorsten Gruber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Despite efforts by researchers and managers to better link marketing activities with business financial outcomes, there is general agreement that by and large chief marketing officers (CMOs) (and marketing in general) have lost strategic decision-making influence within organizations. The purpose of this paper is to understand the causes of this decline and offer recommended solutions to counteract this trend. Design/methodology/approach: In-depth interviews lasting between 40 and 55 minutes were conducted with 25 chief executive officers (CEOs) of service companies located in Western Europe, North America, and Australia. In total, 13 difference countries were represented. Using Emerging Consensus Technique, we identified four main themes, which cause the goals of CEOs and those of CMOs/marketing to diverge. Findings: The primary cause of the decline of strategic influence of CMOs and marketing overall with CEOs is a function of four key issues: first, the role of the CMO (e.g. task overload, focus on tactical issues, "outdated" skill set); second, lack of financial accountability (e.g. the inability to connect marketing efforts to financial returns); third, digital and social media (e.g. a perceived obsession with new technology); and forth, lack of strategic vision and impact (e.g. lost sight of "core" job, use of irrelevant metrics). Practical implications: The findings indicate that CMOs must address the four key issues uncovered for marketing to attain/regain a role in strategic decision making. A proposed roadmap for putting marketing back on the CEOs agenda is presented to guide CMOs. Originality/value: This research provides marketers with a CEO eye view of their role within organizations. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • CEO
  • CMO
  • Emerging Consensus Technique (ECT)
  • Role of marketing
  • Strategic decision making
  • Strategy


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