Content Marketing
Top 10 Skills Every CMO Needs

Top 10 Skills Every CMO Needs

January 19, 2016
4 min read

It’s not easy to be today’s CMOs. They are tasked with everything from lead generation to digital strategy, sales support and even product development, and these are just a small part of the ever-growing list of responsibilities modern CMOs are asked to take on.

As a CMO, what skills do you need to hone in order to be successful in your highly challenging role? And if you’re a marketing manager, what skills can you develop to support your team and advance your career? Here are 10 essential skills you’ll need in 2016 and beyond:

  1. Agility

As the pace of change in marketing and technology continues to accelerate, successful CMOs must stay informed on the latest trends and quickly adapt and drive change where needed.

This means that agile leaders don’t wait until the end of the year or planning cycle to review results and adjust their marketing programs. Instead, they turn to real-time analytics and feedback to make adjustments and improvements on the fly.

Modern CMOs will also look to make their marketing planning and processes more agile. Instead of spending months or years on planning, an agile marketing initiative will involve a series of quick sprints before launch, each of which lasts only two to four weeks in total. After launch, the team reviews goals, accomplishments and results, and plans for the next sprint of initiative.

  1. Big Data

Successful CMOs today need to have a deep understanding of consumers, including their likes and dislikes as well as their needs and expectations at every stage of the customer journey. To do this, CMOs must have the ability to understand and dig into their data with analytics tools, gathering real-time insights to inform their marketing strategy and programs.

Marketing leaders will also want to hire top talent who have more advanced analytics modeling skills to not only understand big data, but to synthesize and turn those data points into actionable insights and stories that will resonate with the business. CMOs then need to take that data to drive the necessary changes internally to provide greater value and better experiences to consumers.

  1. Storytelling And Storymaking

According to Forbes, 2015 would see CMOs becoming brand publishers, acting as the “heads of their brand’s publishing house” to manage and improve the quality of their content as well as engagement with customers and prospects.

As more companies start publishing content and compete for consumer attention, it is becoming harder to reach your target audience. To cut through the noise, CMOs must look for ways to create content that educates and entertains their consumers. A good brand story is what will make your brand noteworthy and win consumer eyeballs and dollars.

  1. Customer-centricity

To capture the attention and loyalty of today’s consumers, marketing leaders need to make sure their brands are helping to solve people’s toughest challenges and are making their lives easier. Modern CMOs must look to establish relationships with customers and become their trusted advisor, rather than focusing solely on closing the deal.

The most effective CMOs are ones who use their data analytics to continually create value for consumers at every stage of the customer journey and deliver a positive, consistent experience, regardless of the channels or devices consumers use to connect with their brands.

  1. Executive-level Influence

Thanks to the rise of customer-centricity, marketing is increasingly gaining more power and voice at the executive table. As such, modern CMOs need to be able to collaborate cross-functionally and gain the respect of their executive peers.

To do so, marketing leaders must ramp up their technical, financial and strategic skills. Today’s CMOs must have the ability to lead their brand beyond the marketing organization, engage and influence their executive peers, and show (and prove) how marketing can help grow the brand and the business.

  1. Collaborative Leadership

Silos exist not only within marketing departments, but also across the organization. They can create tension and conflict between employees, and undermine everyone’s efforts to win and keep consumers happy. The most successful CMOs will look to break down silos, foster open communication and collaboration, and build strategic partnerships with other departments, working toward the common goal of delivering winning customer experiences.

  1. Mental Ambidexterity

Success comes from a marketing leader’s ability to bring together the best of technology and marketing to delight consumers. This requires both the analytical and creative brain. Data analytics help CMOs understand customer needs and interests, but creativity is what fuels real change and innovation to help their brands meet and exceed customer expectations.

Data and technology should never replace creativity. Instead, successful CMOs will seek to marry data with creativity to find new, more innovative ways to engage, entertain and delight consumers.

  1. Culture

Innovation doesn’t always succeed without failures. That’s why it is extremely important for CMOs to foster a culture that doesn’t punish employees who innovate but fail sometimes, but one that encourages continual learning and rewards creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Successful CMOs will also empower their teams to take ownership and make decisions by delegating responsibility and authority. Great marketing leaders recognize that they don’t always have the best or right answers, so they actively listen to others and will advocate their ideas if they have better solutions. This creates a culture of accountability and cultivates leadership at every level of the organization, which are key to engaging and motivating employees to perform at their best.

  1. UX And Coding

Since marketing and technology need to work closely to realize marketing’s full potential, it will be extremely useful for CMOs to develop basic skills in UX design so they can help build the products and experiences consumers want.

Similarly, to be able to increase influence and build more productive partnerships with other C-level executives such as the CTO, CMOs will find it helpful to have a basic understanding of coding languages and how things work in the development world. This helps CMOs understand their CTOs better so they can collaborate more effectively.

  1. Vision

Modern CMOs are increasingly expected to run their teams like CEOs. They need to be able to have a clear vision for the future, excite employees and get them on board with bringing this strategy to life.

To thrive, effective CMOs must become strong business leaders who understand the global world and are at the forefront of new technologies and emerging trends. Successful marketing leaders must be able to leverage these insights to innovate and find better ways to engage and serve consumers, and inspire their organizations around these ideas to drive change and marketing success.

What other skills do you think are essential to today’s CMOs and marketing leaders? Please share your ideas below!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customer for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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