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    What's the Difference Between a CMO and a VP of Marketing?

    CMOs focus on strategic leadership, collaboration with other executives, and driving long-term marketing goals, while VPs of Marketing are more involved in day-to-day operations, tactical execution, and team management.


    In the realm of marketing, two key roles that often instigate confusion are the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and the Vice President of Marketing. Although they share a similar objective of driving business growth and success through marketing strategies, their approaches, responsibilities, and areas of focus differentiate them. This article aims to shed light on the dissimilarities between a CMO and a VP of Marketing, with a specific emphasis on cross-collaboration with teams, building go-to-market strategies, team management, growth assessment, and the concept of fractional roles.

    CMO and VP of Marketing Cross Collaboration with Teams:

    For a successful marketing function, robust collaboration with diverse teams is vital. While both the CMO and VP of Marketing have roles to play in this aspect, their involvement can differ.

    VP's Hands-on Approach: VPs of Marketing are typically more involved in day-to-day operations, maintaining direct contact with teams and executing the operational aspect of marketing plans.

    CMO's Strategic Focus: CMOs, on the other hand, tend to have a strategic focus, working closely with other C-suite executives to align marketing efforts with broader business objectives.

    Building Go-to-Market Strategies:

    Crafting effective go-to-market (GTM) strategies is crucial to launching a product or service successfully. Here's how each role contributes:

    CMO's Strategic Leadership: CMOs take charge of building GTM strategies by gathering market insights, conducting market research, developing target personas, and overseeing the overall marketing plan.

    VP's Tactical Implementation: VPs of Marketing focus on translating the CMO's strategic decisions into practical steps, overseeing tactical execution, campaign management, and marketing outreach efforts.

    Team Building and Management:

    Creating and nurturing high-performing marketing teams is a core responsibility of both the CMO and VP of Marketing, yet they approach it differently.

    VP's Hands-On Approach: As the VP is more hands-on, they are directly involved in team building, performance evaluation, and day-to-day management.

    CMO's Leadership and Strategy: CMOs focus on setting the vision, strategy, and direction for the marketing team, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, and ensuring that the team has the necessary resources and skills for success.

    Assessing Growing Business Needs:

    When a business experiences growth, determining the required marketing capabilities becomes crucial. Here's how the CMO and VP of Marketing play a role:

    VP's Operational View: VPs of Marketing, being closer to daily operations, have a strong understanding of immediate needs and can adjust the marketing team's structure accordingly.

    CMO's Strategic Vision: CMOs have a broader perspective on long-term business goals, expansion plans, and industry trends, allowing them to align marketing resources and capabilities for sustainable growth.

    The Concept of Fractional Roles:

    Expanding marketing capabilities doesn't necessarily mean hiring full-time positions. Fractional roles provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

    Benefits of Fractional CMOs: Engaging a fractional CMO allows businesses to access high-level strategic expertise without the overhead costs of a full-time executive.

    VP as a Fractional Role: For companies with limited resources, fractional VP of Marketing roles can be a suitable option to leverage their hands-on expertise on-demand.


    While both CMOs and VPs of Marketing contribute immensely to a company's success, their roles and responsibilities differ significantly. CMOs focus on strategic leadership, collaboration with other executives, and driving long-term marketing goals, while VPs of Marketing are more involved in day-to-day operations, tactical execution, and team management. Understanding these differences is essential for businesses to make informed decisions regarding their marketing function, be it through fractional roles or full-time positions.

    By: Lauren Hawthorne
    As a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer at House of Revenue, I lead and work with new and existing marketing teams within SMBs to help build strategic and holistic marketing plans within the GTM strategy. We build revenue engines to get Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and RevOps teams and strategies working together.

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