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The 3 Things it Takes to be a CMO Today

There was an interesting article on CNBC earlier this week titled “Chief marketing officers will have to ‘grow or go’ as Fortune 100 companies switch to ‘chief growth officer’ roles.” That’s a mouthful—especially when we’ve been hearing in the last few years how much of the CTO’s budget is going to the CMO. Now all of a sudden the CMO might be on its way out the door?

The article details how Chief Growth Officers are taking over some marketing departments at companies like Coca-Cola and Hershey’s. This new role can include “marketing, strategy and commercial responsibility,” with Forrester expecting more Fortune 100 companies to trade in the CMO for CGO in the coming year.

It makes sense that more companies are focused on doing whatever it takes to drive growth, especially at a time when advertising budgets are under scrutiny and partners are being forced to answer a call for greater transparency into fees and the media buying process in general. There’s also a huge focus on improving customer experience in the age of ad blocking. But just like the media agency, the CMO won’t disappear.

There are three things a CMO needs to be successful in today’s demanding marketing landscape:

1. Insight: Not just knowledge from his or her career or previous roles, though that is helpful in any career. But also insight from across the organization: What do sales people need? What keeps the CEO up at night? And then insights from actual data: Marketo reports, Google Analytics, business intelligence tools, Salesforce. What stories do the data tell you about how marketing is doing and its impact on the business? How do you plan to change things to tell a better story?

2. Inspiration: You need to get excited about your job and what you and your team and company are doing every day. And you certainly should listen to and read about pioneers in your industry who can propel you to get to the next level. Having a mentor also helps, especially if they have achieved something you want in your marketing career. But often that true spark comes from nothing to do with your livelihood. What gets you out of your element so that you can create a breeding ground for creative thinking? Are you moved by art, nature, music?  Pursue those passions to keep a small fire lit as often as possible so you feel impassioned and empowered to do the next great thing.

3. Innovation: The data piece above can help you here because the patterns you see will compel you to try new things (hopefully!). But you have to also get outside of your company. Go to conferences and networking events, read the advertising trades and tech publications. What cool things are other companies doing, even ones not in your space? Do you have the budget and resources to trial some of them? If not, how can you get creative with internal resources to continually explore new ways of doing things?

Photo from Creative Commons

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