Want To Be A Successful CMO? Here’s 4 Skills You Need To Have


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The role of the CMO has undergone a massive transformation in just a few short years. It’s no longer about creating the next campaign, or choosing the most influential ad agency.

From growing the sales pipeline to navigating a company’s transition into the digital world, today’s CMOs have a lot more on their plates. They’re also expected to take charge of the customer experience, and deal with a dizzying array of marketing technology and data.

As the modern CMO’s role becomes more complex, so do the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Whether you’ve set your sights on the CMO role, or just want to better understand your marketing leaders, here are four capabilities modern CMOs must have.

1. Think like a CEO

Just as CEOs are responsible for developing strategies to produce positive business outcomes, CMOs must be able to do the same. This means looking beyond short-term successes—such as building up this quarter’s sales pipeline—and beyond the walls of the marketing department.

In an interview with CMSWire, Liz Miller, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the CMO Council, provided this perspective:

“As channels, time, business goals and customers change, [CMOs] need to be the ones with partnerships across the organization, and the strategies in place so [they] can wrap up the entire organization and say, ‘This is where the customer is supposed to head.’”

By breaking down silos and working with other leaders across the organization, CMOs can better align their goals with sales, customer success and other functional areas to get a more holistic picture of where the company needs to be in the next few years, and how marketing can contribute to that success.  

CMOs should also be asking themselves questions such as: “What’s next in the market, and what is our role in shaping the future of the organization?” and “How do we mobilize our teams to get there?”

2. Develop a customer-obsessed culture

Eighty percent of CMOs say that the most important element of their role is the customer.

And, while CEOs now expect the CMO to lead the charge in transforming the customer experience, this doesn’t mean that marketing has to do it all.  According to a Gartner report on CMO leadership, CEOs want CMOs to lead the customer experience across the entire business.

This begins with establishing a customer-obsessed culture. Today’s CMOs must be able to develop customer-centric value statements and set expectations across the company around how to embody them. As Bill Macaitis, CMO of Slack, puts it:

“If you believe the brand is a sum of every single experience, then every single person in that company is going to influence that experience.”

To do this, CMOs must ensure that all employees are empowered to make decisions that positively impact the customer. When employees feel trusted and valued, they’re more motivated to provide the best service to customers.

Customer-centric CMOs also realize that creating these positive experiences builds loyalty, reduces churn and turns customers into vocal brand advocates. Advocates have a higher LTV than regular customers. This is not only because they spend more, but also because of their potential to refer new business, and thus reduce new customer acquisition costs.

3. Adopt a data mindset

Whether gathering customer insights to help employees better serve customers, or determining which technology one should invest in or eliminate, keeping an eye on the data is critical for CMOs.

And while focusing on KPIs such as revenue growth, brand awareness and market share help CMOs determine their success in driving business outcomes, these are only part of the bigger data story.

In order to solidify a customer-obsessed culture, it’s important that all functions across the organization have access to as many insights about the customer as possible.

By openly sharing customer data, CMOs give staff outside of marketing the tools to become better. Moreover, opening the door to stronger relationships between leaders of those functions will strengthen the organization as a whole.

4. Be a change agent

At a time when agile and innovative companies are outshining their larger, slower competitors, it’s important that CMOs understand how to adapt their marketing plans with very little lead time– while still maintaining their customer focus.

Because digitally savvy customers are always one step ahead of brands, the ability to keep up with changing customer needs is vitally important to the health of your brand.  

A recent study by the Vivaldi group discusses the changing role of the CMO, and the importance of being able to adapt to these kinds of changes:

“The new CMO is like a soccer player who is required to always understand the overall playbook and continuously maintains a complete view of the field and all the players, changing mindset from offense, to defense, to offense…as the game changes.”

Yes, the marketing playing field is constantly changing. Do you have what it takes to lead your team to victory?

Free eBook: The CMO’s Guide to Next Gen Brand Building

This eBook features key insights from forward-thinking CMOs and marketing leaders on:

  • The changing role of the CMO
  • Delivering an exceptional customer experience
  • Cultivating a customer-obsessed company culture
  • Increasing customer retention and loyalty
  • Enlisting the help of advocates to build your brand and generate revenue

Download the eBook now

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Williams
Jim Williams is VP of Marketing at Influitive, the advocate marketing experts. Jim is a veteran marketer for early and growth stage tech companies that loves bringing new concept products to market. Before joining the Influitive team, he held marketing leadership roles at Eloqua, Unveil Solutions, Lernout & Hauspie, and several PR agencies.


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