Marketing is one of the most rapidly developing areas of the business world and your company needs a champion with the qualities to embrace that challenge for the long haul, writes David Clarke for Strategy+Business.
It’s not so many years since the extent of most companies’ marketing efforts was an advert in the telephone directory. Today it’s a specialised field that is growing and changing as fast as the technological tools that now drive it.
The role of chief marketing officer is up there with the handful of key strategists in your company. But statistics from a Wall Street Journal study reveal that, on average, CMOs in high-profile, high-pressure positions remain around three-and-a-half years in post.
“Marketing, sales, data, digital and technology now move quickly on paths that are intertwined and often erratic. A CMO must stay in the vanguard of this evolution and steer her or his company in whatever direction the industry is headed next,” writes David Clarke, who has extensive experience of working with marketing leaders.
So what traits do you look for in candidate who can go the distance while remaining highly effective? Through his first-hand observations David came up with a list of qualities that are common to the most consistently successful contemporary CMOs he knows.
1) Connection. The best CMOs make the effort to understand all the elements of the organisation and how each can help them achieve their goals. They get to know specialists from key areas, invite their input and get them talking to each other.
2) Passion. They know and love their industry. They understand what makes their company stand out from the rest. Their creativity and enthusiasm exudes an evangelical zeal that inspires others.
3) Hands-on involvement. A CMO who is confident and willing to work at the coalface to test out new strategies and technologies gains respect from colleagues and attracts team members with similar traits.
4) Instinct. Even with all the data in the world at a CMO’s feet, they have to know what to do with it. Understanding what their customers want and what will have an impact on them is where intuition is invaluable.
5) Evolution. Taking risks and embracing new ideas are key to a CMO staying ahead of the game. Setting change as an essential part of their agenda is vital for sustainability.
6) Analysis. An effective contemporary CMO needs to love the data-driven culture where analytics tools are the lifeblood for developing strategies.
7) Collaboration. No CMO is an island; they need a strong squad around them. The best can spot and nurture potential stars, while leading a team where everyone is empowered as an innovator. They also bring people together to develop fresh ways of marketing the company.
These traits are not written in stone. “Given the lightning-quick pace of change in the marketing world, the traits needed to succeed are continually evolving,” admits Clarke. He concludes that, above all, the best CMOs keep the customer experience in sharp focus, protecting and developing it by fearlessly employing creative forward thinking.