What you Need to be a Good CMO
What you Need to be a CMO
Being a CMO can be amazing, hard, exhausting, fun, challenging and about a million other adjectives. Below are the twenty traits that are integral to becoming a successful CMO.
These are the marketing-specific traits that set up a CMO to best lead a team of marketers and steer marketing at an organization.
- Multi-Channel- It’s clear looking at the leading CMOs that while they may be stacked in a channel or two, they are absolutely exposed to and well-versed in all of the marketing channels. This multi-channel expertise helps them lead teams that work better together and combine for beautifully orchestrated marketing campaigns.
- Technical- To lead marketing today, you need to understand the technical landscape and its challenges. In addition to understanding the technology behind your product and operations, you should also bring a technical skill set to your marketing efforts, specifically.
- Design-Focused- The more you understand about design thinking and design theory, the more suited you are to tell your company’s story in a way that resonates with the masses. The best CMOs aren’t just approving designs, they are able to collaborate at every design stage.
- Lifecycle Marketer- Great CMOs know how to acquire customers, engage them and retain them. They consider marketing to be a critical channel in which to improve the entire customer lifecycle. This ensures the customer’s needs are met and exceeded at every stage.
- Data-Driven- The best CMOs stress measurement and analytics as a primary reason behind their success. Not only does it prove the value of marketing, which of course makes it easier to make a case for growing the marketing department, but being data-driven helps them evangelize internally the value of their efforts.
Finding your leadership style and intentionally growing in the area of leadership is critical for any executive, and being a CMO is no exception. Great marketing departments are not just comprised of brilliant, enthusiastic marketers — they are led by great leaders.
- Visionary- Marketers know how important it is to be ahead of the market. That ability to see two steps ahead — in hiring, resources, campaigns, market shifts, etc. — seems innate to the top CMOs.
- Intuition About People- Being a great leader means you need to get people. Successful CMOs are able to staff great teams, and that requires a great intuition about people. It’s more than knowing whether or not a person is qualified — you need to bring together the right people that can play off each other, support each other, push each other and thrive.
- Empowering- This seems obvious, but is so important. Great CMOs know their main job is to empower their team to be their best selves. The machine should be able to operate almost entirely without you — that is when you see marketing perform at its best. Bold moves, calculated risks, big ideas and happy teams.
- Great Communicator- CMOs need to work beautifully with every team at the company. Communicating well with all sorts of people (all of which have their own priorities that often compete) is critical to a company’s success. Communicating all of this can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding when done well.
- Facilitator- As a CMO, you are often looped in to discuss product roadmaps, prioritizations, engineering decisions and operational challenges. It is important to help where you can. If I can use marketing budget, resources or campaigns to make another company initiative go smoother, then we all win. Often, the best leaders are actually the best supporters.
A good CMO is not only a well-rounded marketer, but also has a strong business sense. The CMO views the business holistically, working closely with other departments and ensuring that marketing activities are connected to wider company goals and objectives.
- Growth Marketer- If you want to be a CMO someday, you have to think outside the proverbial marketing box. It’s not just about growing acquisition, engagement and retention — it’s about “growing whatever needs to grow.” This could be expanding into a new demographic market, building out an internal data house, or perhaps growing your mobile presence.
- Revenue Focused- Great CMOs understand that every marketing function should ultimately increase revenue. Revenue should be at the heart of everything you do.
- Customer Champion- The best CMOs keep the customer front of mind. If revenue is king, then the customer is queen. CMOs that keep the customer as their “true North” tend to prioritize projects better, build more authentic brands and create better marketing.
- Cross-Department Liaison- CMOs now have more impact on what systems, processes and software the company uses, all of which are cross-departmental in some capacity. Great CMOs build bridges into other teams. They understand their biggest challenges and their goals.
- Amplifier- Outside of growing the bottom line, building out teams and creating brilliant brands, the marketing team should also be amplifying on the company’s behalf. Successful CMOs are constantly mining the business for great stories. How did you scale that technology? How did you create those core values? What’s your philosophy on funding?
You can have all the marketing expertise, business savvy and leadership swagger in the world, but there are also personality traits that set some CMOs up for more success. This doesn’t mean every CMO needs to have the traits below, but it’s almost odd how many times the top CMOs in the world reference these as what makes them great at what they do.
- Curious- The best CMOs are lifelong learners, always trying to understand that new channel or platform or process. They are curious by nature and surround themselves with smart people in hopes of absorbing their awesomeness. Curiosity is also contagious, and having that drive to learn and improve spread across your marketing team makes for great marketing.
- Accountable- Top CMOs assume a great deal of responsibility and they own it fully. They tend to be boat rockers and they stick out their neck in that group meeting that is going around in circles. They know how important it is to assume the weight of a decision and they stress accountability in those around them.
- Detail Driven- Great CMOs understand the importance of rigor and discipline in marketing. They stress process, tracking, data. They are detail-driven and ultimately look forwards to build infrastructure that helps the entire team move faster with fewer mistakes.
- Humble- Marketing leaders get a great deal of attention. They tend to represent the company and team externally at shows, conferences, events and more. They are quoted in the press and spend a great deal of their day in the spotlight. The most successful CMOs are humble by nature. They realize they are just the microphone for a brilliant team and amazing products.
- Adventurous- Risk-taking is a must for the most successful CMOs out there. Some of the best marketing campaigns made no sense when pitched, the data didn’t support them, and much of the team probably wasn’t sure about the idea. But great CMOs assume risk and crave the adventure of launching bold campaigns and impacting at scale.