CMO vs VP of Marketing: What's right for your career?

3 minutes

Deciding on your next role can be tricky, especially for senior marketers where options are ...

Deciding on your next role can be tricky, especially for senior marketers where options are seemingly more limited. We've already discussed Non-Executive Director opportunities in depth in our event series centred around transitioning from CMO to NED. So, what other options do marketing leaders have to develop their career path?

The most obvious options for senior marketing professionals are the VP of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer position. Although people often use these job titles interchangeably, they have clear differences.

This blog will discuss the key differences between the CMO job and the VP of Marketing role. It aims to help you understand your next career move better.

What is the difference between a CMO and a VP of Marketing?

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Vice President (VP) of Marketing are both senior-level roles within the marketing industry. While both positions are very strategic, the main difference between them is where their focus lies.

The CMO oversees the entire marketing department and focuses on driving revenue growth through long-term marketing efforts. Meanwhile, the VP oversees smaller areas of marketing, including day-to-day activities such as branding and product marketing.

You will often only find both roles exist in larger businesses with bigger marketing departments. As a result, if you're interested in becoming a VP of Marketing, jobs can be harder to find. We see the majority of them in the tech industry.

What is the hierarchical structure of these roles?

The marketing team structure will vary depending on business size. Nevertheless, the CMO is the highest-ranking marketing executive within a company, followed the VP and then the Marketing Director.

Sitting at board level, the Chief Marketing Officer reports directly into the CEO or COO. They collaborate with the wider business to make strategic marketing decisions. As a result, they will often manage and collaborate with the VP of Marketing.

The VP often manages their own team of marketing professionals, including Marketing Directors and Managers.

It's important to note that smaller business tend to only hire a CMO. If you’re marketing team doesn't include a VP, the CMO role will often be operational as well as strategic. They will be responsible for managing a growing marketing team as well as creating effective strategies.

Which role is best suited for your career?

Both the CMO and VP of Marketing jobs require strong leadership, strategic thinking, and excellent communication skills.

These senior marketing roles are crucial in driving the success and growth of an organisation by effectively promoting its products or services to the target audience. They are both brilliant next steps for experienced Heads of Marketing and Marketing Directors. But which role one is best suited to your skill set and career?

Key skills of a VP of Marketing

The VP of Marketing role is traditionally more hands-on than the CMO role. As a result, VPs need to have strong leadership experience and be comfortable leading by example. If you enjoy working directly with your marketing team, this role might be better suited to you. Other required skills include:

  • Strong communication and organisational skills, with the ability to liase with internal and external teams across the business
  • An analytical mind with a passion for market research
  • Established knowledge of branding, advertising, and other areas of digital marketing depending on a company’s needs
  • The ability to make quick, informed decisions informed by up-to-date industry and marketing knowledge

Average UK salary for VP of Marketing: £140,000 - £200,000

Key skills of a Chief Marketing Officer

As the CMO sits on the board, it’s important for candidates to have strong stakeholder management and communication skills. These skills are crucial to secure the necessary budget to resource and execute marketing strategies. Other required skills include:

  • Demonstrable track record of building, scaling and leading high-performance marketing teams
  • Robust analytical skills and the ability to utilise both qualitative and quantitative data to drive marketing success
  • Strong commercial focus, thinking about how to drive revenue and grow customer base

Average UK salary for CMO: £130,000 - £220,000

Searching for your next senior marketing role? Get in touch with 3Search Executive

We hope this article gives you a clear insight into the VP of Marketing and CMO roles and you're able to make an informed decision on your next career move.

If you’re a marketing professional looking for more advice on your next career move, be sure to get in touch with our Executive Search team. Or, if you’re ready to take the next step in your career, our consultants can connect you with the opportunity best suited to your expertise.

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