Today I’m giving you my list of 25 chief marketing officers we can all learn from, and my thoughts on some of the most influential CMOs on the scene today.
For me, watching these marketing influencers gives a great sense of the trends that are most important to learn about and invest in. Watch these top CMOs for true thought leadership in the marketing space and all of the inherent learning opportunities that come with it.
I recommend you follow all of these people on Twitter.
Sonny Ganguly is the co-founder and CMO of WeddingWire where he works on B2C/B2B marketing strategy, community development, and customer acquisition. He is also an acclaimed public speaker, presenting many times each year around the world on marketing, strategy, and technology. Sonny earned a Harvard M.B.A. (where he was the Marketing Club President) and was awarded a CMO Rising Star by the CMO Club; he is also a founding member of NextGen Angels.
Alan See is in the business of finding great chief marketing officers, supplying them to businesses, and selling the service—convincing businesses worldwide why temporary CMO staffing is a viable option. With this in mind it’s not hard to see why he puts such great energy into his social media presence, and this works out really well for his followers who have grown to more than 55,000. See provides them with excellent advice on branding, marketing, and other useful topics which sell CMO Temps naturally.
Beth Comstock has been Vice Chair of General Electric since 2015 and has served as chief marketing and commercial officer since 2008. She is charged with accelerating new growth and operating GE Business Innovations, which includes marketing and communications. Before that she was the first CMO of NBC in more than 20 years. Comstock takes personal branding and thought leadership to a level that most can’t handle, achieving a rabid social media fanbase you might expect from a brand like Apple even though her brand is far less exciting and personal.
The founder, President, and CEO of interlinkONE, John Foley, Jr. is also responsible for the company’s visionary internet marketing applications. John has ushered interlinkONE into a very successful period and is also the founder of marketing delivery and consulting services provider Grow Socially. He is an expert in content marketing, online marketing, SEO, social media management, web design, and other areas. Foley is active on Twitter, sharing useful advice, so he is a great marketing follow.
Sicily Dickenson handles the enormous NRG advertising and marketing budget of $100 million annually and has put the money to good use, boosting consumer awareness of the NRG brand by 30 percent. She’s responsible for the smooth and productive integration of multiple new brands into the NRG portfolio in recent months. A truly smart and engaging social media user, she’s someone to watch in terms of getting customers onside.
Phil Schiller has been with Apple for almost 20 years, and during that time he has helped shape the way that we interact with tech every day. He oversees business- and product-marketing as well as developer relations for Apple and has brought marketing campaigns from drawing board to completion for Apple TV, iMac, iPhone, iPod, MacBook, and Safari. Most of his social activity is strictly about Apple products and not so much about marketing, but watching him provides a lesson in representing a great brand.
Amber Osborne, a.k.a Miss Destructo, is the marketing force behind AI-driven social media management software company Meshfire. Before that she ran Head of Lettuce Media focusing on social media brand management. Osborne has been named the second Most Influential CMO on Social Media (out of 50) by Forbes, one of the 2014 50 Industry Influencers by AG Beat, and one of Social Media Marketing Magazine’s Top 100 chief marketing officers On Twitter. She has earned numerous other accolades related to her social media presence and following her is a great move for anyone who wants to learn more.
As Netflix CMO Kelly Bennett supervises a large team of marketing staff with the end goal of fostering emotional connections with customers all over the world—not an easy task. During his time at Netflix part of the company’s strategy has been to use high-quality original programming to draw in loyal customers with new series starting every few weeks as buzz grows for each new series. As you might imagine Bennett favors lots of video on social media and uses it well, making his accounts great lessons in smart social video use.
Ann Lewnes has been at the heart of the Adobe corporate brand identity since 2006 and has successfully expanded it into digital marketing. She is responsible for the “Metrics, Not Myths” campaign and under her leadership Adobe has become a digital leader which uses around 75 percent of its budget on digital. This focus shows in her social activity and frequent interviews, and she often dispenses excellent, actionable advice in both settings.
Trevor Edwards has been with Nike for more than two decades, and now, as President of the NIKE brand, he ultimately directs all e-commerce, retail, and wholesale operations for the athletic giant. He was responsible for directing the Nike+ innovative collaboration with Apple and powers Nike’s ongoing social media strategies.
Marc Pritchard is a good person for marketers to watch if only because he holds so much power and influence; Procter & Gamble is the largest advertiser in the world, and Pritchard is in charge. He takes an interesting approach in that he advocates for “less is more,” cutting advertising spending and pushing the company away from traditional marketing and towards PR and organic engagement, web video, mobile advertising, and influencer style marketing.
Jon Iwata manages IBM’s worldwide communications including executive and internal communications, industry analyst relations, media relations, shareholder communications, and IBM’s global employee intranet. He’s a great person to follow because he offers insight into how a gigantic company like IBM runs, and he shares resources like company news and research studies.
As Chief Marketing Officer at Spotify, Seth Farbman leads the marketing team as it works to parse out listener habits and empower music consumers to function as tastemakers in a version of microinfluencer marketing and engagement. Farbman and his team are working almost entirely on what they call “high-tide engagement” to transform their marketing approach entirely away from a traditional approach. This is obviously working for Spotify and it’s this kind of innovation lesson that we can all learn from watching this CMO.
Kirby Wadsworth is responsible for all marketing activities of Application Platform-as-a-Service provider Mendix worldwide including brand development, corporate communications, demand generation, and product marketing. He is great at keeping his followers informed with lots of news on industry trends and marketing hacks.
Margaret Molloy is in charge of the marketing team at Siegel+Gale, one of the top branding consultancies in the world. She was a driving force behind the Siegel+Gale Simplicity Index, which focuses on how consumers perceive brands and social media and why simplicity works best for brands. Molloy is a master in the social media community and is ranked by Twitter among the platform’s top 10 chief marketing officers.
Jeff Jones is responsible for all advertising, brand and category marketing, corporate communications, enterprise loyalty, media and marketing operations, and public relations for Target. He also serves as the on-demand shopping experience architect. However, the real reason to watch Jones is for his demonstrated finesse with consumer relations; even after Target’s embarrassing data breach, he managed to spin the problem positively after a truly candid speech, and his handling of the breach was masterful.
As SAP’s CMO, Maggie Chan Jones manages the global development of the company’s marketing strategy and is responsible for audience, branding, digital, events, global advertising, operations, partner and field marketing, and sponsorships. As SAP moves toward being the Cloud Company powered entirely by SAP HANA Chan Jones supports the process and enables the company mission to assist customers, employees, and partners Run Simple. She was named a Top Woman in Brand Marketing by Brand Innovators in 2015, and she also received a Best Marketing Team award from Capacity Magazine.
Brian Kardon leads global marketing integration, demand generation, and brand awareness initiatives for Fuze (formerly ThinkingPhones). He has been named a Top 10 Global CMO among businesses with less than $250 million in revenue and one of Twitter’s Top 10 chief marketing officers. If you follow him on Twitter you’ll see why; he is a frequent poster and top notch curator who provides a lot of excellent information.
DigiMark Partners provides tactical and strategic marketing services to small and mid-sized businesses, including temporary or part-time access to Kent Huffman as a fractional, or on-demand, CMO. Huffman and his team listen to their clients carefully, develop measurable goals and objectives, and then collaborate with them to design and deliver integrated digital marketing programs that get repeatable results. A self-professed social media fanatic, Huffman tweets detailed marketing information day and night.
Karen Quintos is responsible for branding for Dell customers, global stakeholders, and team members. She heads up agency management, brand strategy, corporate responsibility, global communications, global research, marketing talent development, and social media. She is adept with social media, and she takes customer service very seriously. Watch her interactions on Twitter and with the @DellCares account to see what great customer support looks like.
Deborah Wahl was an outsider when she joined McDonald’s in 2014 after spending most of her career marketing in the auto industry. But after a particularly bad string of years financially, the company needed a change, and Wahl was a good person to execute given the similarities between the two franchise-heavy industries. Wahl’s responsibilities include branding, advertising, and maintaining consistency with franchisees, something she’s already well-versed in. Watch her on social media not for informational resources but to see how she handles the changes in the fast food mega-giant’s menu and customer relations.
The founder and CMO of IdealSpot, Bryan Eisenberg is a wealth of marketing and business information. He is also the co-author of “Call to Action” and “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?” which he co-wrote with his brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. On social media he shares marketing tips and other information that is useful to both marketing professionals and business owners (not to mention other chief marketing officers).
Brian Kenny enjoys global oversight of the HBS brand, and coordinates the development and implementation of all HBS communications, marketing, and public relations worldwide. He also hosts a semimonthly podcast, “Cold Call,” focusing on the school’s world-famous case studies. Kenny has been the driving force behind using social media to tell the story of what life is like at HBS; this is the real challenge for the school, not brand recognition per se, so Kenny and his team found social media to be the perfect tool for informally communicating with students and the community. This approach provides lots of great customer engagement takeaways applicable for all kinds of businesses.
Chances are great that you already follow Mashable; it’s one of the best sources of information out there no matter what business you’re in. As CMO for Mashable Stacy Martinet provides a constant stream of the cream of the crop via Twitter and it’s nearly all either practical or inspirational—a fantastic mix.
Paige O’Neill is a marketing powerhouse among chief marketing officers with a healthy PR and communications background in her corner as well. She’s known for developing thought leadership programs and for her ability to develop strong brand awareness and take her companies ahead of their competitors by differentiating them in meaningful, lasting ways. Her thousands of Tweets offer excellent bits of news, research studies, and other marketing-related food for thought.
These 25 chief marketing officers we can all learn from are the thought leaders in the marketing space today. Who do you look to when you’re hoping to learn and grow as a marketer? Let me know in the comments.