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Skillset of a Modern CMO

With the current state of B2B marketing aptly summed at the Sirius Decisions Summit 2013, how can marketing stay relevant and continue to add value? Exactly what type of skills and attributes will the modern marketing professional need to be able to not just survive, but actually thrive as a CMO in the future?

Skillsets for success: what the CMO of today needs to know for tomorrow.

With greater change, and greater uncertainty of today’s marketing landscape, the opportunities for marketers with skills and the ambition to capitalise on them are potentially unrivalled. Ample supplies of customer data and insight, the power of sophisticated analytics technology to turn complex data into meaningful and actionable information, customers who will engage, albeit on their terms, if they see there’s something of value in it for them or their businesses, not to mention diversifying channels with increase convenience for the buyer (search and social media).

This is all fertile ground for the CMO who can identify and mobilise the resources necessary to take up the challenges and flourish. Here are some of the scenarios likely to impact on senior marketers’ roles moving forward.

1.    Taking wider responsibility for the overall success of the company

Having the foresight to predict customer needs and wants in the new marketplace gives the CMO the chance to have a wider influence on corporate strategy. Big data and an analytic approach will help to highlight what customers are looking for in terms of products and services to take their businesses forward. With an understanding of the business issues at hand, an ability to spot new opportunities and shape product offerings to meet these needs, the CMO will have a direct and quantifiable effect on the bottom line. They will no longer just have to take what the business gives them to sell, but offer insight as to what will sell and how customers buy it.

2.    Be aware of new technologies, and be able to adapt existing strategies to make best use of them

This involves having an eye both on what works in the marketplace, and what might work better given evolving technological developments.

The tech savvy CMO needs to see value adoption of technology, but also see value in experiential platforms to drive innovation and collaboration. With the growing use of marketing automation platforms and social media management software as growing examples, it is key to emphasise that efficiency, cost-effectiveness and impact is only achieved if they can deploy standardised systems and achieve user adoption across their enterprise.

Effective marketing communications relies on a mix of more conventional sales and marketing techniques, adapted to take into consideration the new opportunities to connect with prospects and drive them towards a sale. Shouting your way to a sale doesn’t wash – walking alongside prospects as they journey further along the buying cycle requires different skills, different content and different actions even if the outcome, for the successful operator, is the same, just achieved more efficiently and more cost-effectively.

3.    Have the pulling power to attract the best people

Recruitment has always been key to organisational success however in a more open recruitment market with wider access of information online, pulling and retaining power is even more vital. With the pool of hybrid, multi-skilled marketing professionals at a premium, leaders are often challenged to find the A players that really make a difference.

Personal branding will become more important with ambitions skilled professionals seeking both opportunity, and the ability to learn from industry leaders to enrich their own experience.

4.    Departmental integration to bring together marketing, sales, product and IT

In the new paradigm, cross-departmental thinking has become the only way. Operating in siloes leads only to needless repetition of tasks, mixed messages going out into the marketplace and waste of time and money.

Putting a consistent strategic direction and common marketing goals in place across the organisation helps to unify marketing efforts and maintain control of budgets and brand consistency.

Just as importantly, access to relevant data enables marketing to substantiate reasons for new products or services that meet specific and visible customer needs.

CMO’s need to make friends outside of marketing, and have the ability to get full alignment and buy-in on marketing activity. Whereas once support from peers was enough, now buy-in from traditional enemies is required.

5.    Combine creative vision with a pragmatic understanding of measuring, delivering and demonstrating returns on marketing spend

Alongside the ever-present need to apply lateral, creative thinking to overcome marketing challenges, the need today is to combine creativity with real-time insight and deep analytics. In the sea of content and with most products holding little real differentiation, the value of brand and creativity is once again high on a CMO’s priority list. In many instances, it is even seen as the only real long-term differentiator.

In the era of Content Marketing, the CMO’s is challenged is enabling and empowering content creation; across departments, regions and teams. Maintaining brand consistency and content quality is vital as buyers seek to find the information they want, when they want.

We are in a buyer’s market, and the CMO must make the buyers job in buying easier.

Greg Dorban is a Demand Generation professional helping global companies to create more opportunities. He is Head of Inbound Marketing with strategic consultation on search, social, web, conversion and content at Ledger Bennett, a specialist B2B...

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