7 Habits of a Rock Star CMO


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7 Habits of a Rock Star CMOMusicians come and musicians go. Some are one-hit wonders and some become legends even in their own lifetime. Genres of music tend to hit varying levels of popularity; they evolve. Rock music is one genre which probably has as many fans as it has skeptics. While fans love and worship their rock legends, others denounce the loud, wild side of rock music.

I was chatting with Scott, a long-time client and dear friend over lunch the other day. He told me proudly that his daughter is also looking into a career in marketing. “When I was her age, I was convinced I wanted to be a rock star”, he laughed. “Well, now I am a CMO, so that dream obviously didn’t work out”.

As I drove back to the office, I was replaying our conversation in my mind and couldn’t help thinking that Scott is actually, quite the rock star. As the CMO of a successful B2B marketing company, he absolutely rocks his role. He has what is takes—a keen perception of customer needs and how to align marketing strategy to match. While lead generation and ROI are at the top of his radar, he is also highly creative and his business sense is dead on. As you can imagine, Scott doesn’t have it easy with trying to keep the rest of his C-Suite and bean counters happy. At the same time, he strives to remain a relevant leader and make sure his team collectively buys into his vision and goals. I have also seen over the years that he is not afraid to ruffle some feathers and go against the grain, yet he is level-headed and knows when to get out of his way.

In some ways, Scott is like one of my all-time favourite rock stars, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. Can’t wait to see Gilmour at the long-awaited concert in Toronto next year! After the band split ways at the end of 1987, it didn’t look like they would ever play together again. Then came the Live 8 benefit concert in 2005 where Gilmour, Waters, Mason and Wright, a.k.a. Pink Floyd performed together again after 24 years in London’s Hyde Park. The band members had decided that their own differences were unimportant, petty even in the face of bigger problems the world faced, which the Live 8 benefit concerts were aiming to help raise funds for. That’s what a rock star leader does—puts aside personal preference, prejudice and opinion to lead the way, rally forces and make things happen for the greater good of the organization.

Here Are 7 Habits of Rock Star CMOs Worth Emulating

  1. Stay Focused On Quality

Yes, volume of leads is desired, but while that numbers game is so tempting, an effective CMO drives the team to pursue quality over quantity. Scott reviews the majority of content that his team puts out and follows up on the success of these pieces. This allows an accurate evaluation of what content is working to bring in quality leads.

  1. Do Your Homework

Being a CMO in the digital age, you have no choice but to prepare yourself for a Chief Excellence Officer type of role. It no longer suffices to be at the top of your marketing game. You also need to know your way around IT, analytics and data management.

  1. Take Relationships Seriously

You need to do this not just with your own internal teams but also with customers and other external stakeholders. It’s true that as a CMO, you will not see fans throwing themselves at your feet or camping out for ten hours just to get your signature, like they would do with rock stars. However, just like a rock star, your role as a CMO also depends on your audience and their willingness to listen to you. You could amplify your voice with sophisticated equipment, or you could let the unmistakable, melodic chimes of your Gilmouresque guitar take your fans to a different planet where everyone sings and is mesmerized by the same tune.  

  1. Revisit Strategy and Don’t Be Afraid to Go Rogue

Going rogue is more than disruption; it’s about breaking the shackles and letting go. If you dream about going rogue as a CMO, do it! There are many qualities that can be attributed to a rock star. Ordinary or conventional are definitely not among that list. Doing things because they have always been done that way stalls creativity and limits the potential of unfettered innovation. If you feel that breaking routines, reorganizing goals and forsaking traditional mindsets is the way to go forward, you should.

  1. Collaborate with Sales

Many rock stars have boosted their fame and fan base by collaborating with other stars – something you as a CMO should also look into. We have been discussing on my blog the ongoing problem of misalignment between sales and marketing. Scott also talked about this being a problem and how he has successfully introduced changes in his company. The two teams meet regularly to monitor progress and refine a cohesive strategy in order to achieve the same goals—quality leads, greater conversion, enhanced customer experience.

  1. Keep Calm and Lead from the Middle

Even though you are a rock star CMO, spare the rock star attitude! There is quite a large population of CMOs who resort to yelling, blaming or intimidating others when faced with a problem. Stay calm, be respectful and take feedback from others on your team before making difficult decisions.

  1. Embrace Change

Finally, in order to avoid being a one-hit wonder and stay evergreen, you have to go with the times and embrace change. Yes, you do have to be a visionary, stay ahead of the market and even be adventurous; it doesn’t help to run after every fad. We have seen how the social media frenzy led many organizations to pour marketing budgets down the drain, so that is not the way to go either. Be on the lookout for changes and trends, but take your time to decide what is sustainable and will deliver ROI.

What traits and habits do you expect to see in a rock star CMO? Feel free to add to the list. I look forward to hearing from you—please leave me a comment. If you would like to receive updates and information about B2B lead generation, please click here. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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