Let me start by reminding all of you marketers what the world of today’s CMO looks like:

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article:

Chief marketing officers’ average tenure in their posts held steady last year at 40 months, according to the latest annual research from executive search and leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart.

That’s still the lowest level in more than a decade.

Their CEO counterparts have double the tenure (7 years) relative to the CMO.

According to the article, “the expansive remit of the CMO role, on top of a growing number of marketing channels and a politically polarized consumer landscape, among numerous other factors, makes the position particularly tricky.”

We wrote our own post on this topic just a few short weeks ago.

So why do some CMOs continue to think that bringing on the “safety net” marketing agency is the perfect solution?

Most do it because it’s the safe thing to do. They figure that if things don’t go the way they want them to go, “blame the agency”.

But as the CMO’s tenure suggests, that strategy isn’t working and will only continue to get worse as the market demands that CMOs (and their agencies) be more nimble and agile.

So, let’s pretend for a moment.

New CMO comes on board. She wants to make her mark on the business. She wants to bring on a new agency.

She has a choice…big, networked agency that has all the resources, looks good on paper and in the presentation, has the heavy hitters, and partners with some really well-known brands.  Clearly the safe choice.

Or does she choose the mid-size, independent shop that doesn’t work with McDonald’s or Pepsi, but partners with some solid brands that have seen great success in working with the agency.  The agency is also well-resourced, they have case studies to prove out their value, they have proven that they can adapt to changing market conditions, and they can be creative not just in work they produce, but also in how they market their client’s business.

She can choose the safe route but it’s not going to take her very far.

CMOs need to take some (calculated and well-thought thru) chances and look to agencies that can bring fresh thinking, different perspective, and long tenure with their clients.

Most of the agencies we bring into searches are independents with solid track records of partnering with CMOs for extended stays on the job.

If you look close enough, you find that independents can be just as effective as big, networked firms. Yes, they might not have 2,000 people on staff, and they might not have a global presence, but if you pick the right firm, you’ll be in a much happier place…I promise.

Give us a shout if you need any help finding a better firm (www.rswagencysearch.com).