The Marketing rEvolution Is Here: What Are The Critical Skills Your Next CMO Must Have?

Posted on November 23, 2009


Will Your Next CMO have The Right Stuff?

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READER’S NOTE: This is Part 3 of a series of guest blogs that examine the new skills that corporate communications executive 2.0 will need to thrive.
Part 1 by Lou Hoffman, A Mass Comms Curriculum Alone Short-Sheets Tomorrow’s PR Pro.
Part 2 by Dan Green, The 4 Skills Needed To Thrive.

Guest Blog

Mark Schaefer is an educator, managing director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and author of the marketing thought-leadership blog {grow}. He is also a new friend. Now, I’m a marketing geek. I have loved marketing since junior high school…sad, I know. Mark would never call himself that. However, he is, and he’s really smart. When one of us is intrigued by some new development that affects marketing we’ll call or email the other to ask, “What do you think about….?” I’m grateful that social media has connected me with a number of others passionate about social media marketing, too. It really cuts down on that talking to my imaginary friend thing….

This time I got to put Mark on the spot. I asked what advice he would give to a CEO who needed to hire a CMO to lead the company into the new digital and social marketing frontier. He took the challenge with great élan. Here is his answer.

–Steve Farnsworth

The Marketing rEvolution Is At Your Front Door: What Are The Critical Skills Your Next CMO Must Have?

By Mark Schaefer, @markwschaefer

My teacher and mentor Peter Drucker used to say that the only functions in a corporation are marketing and innovation – everything else is overhead. My friends in manufacturing will argue this endlessly but I think the point is that marketing is often a company’s most essential function. Choosing somebody to lead that team might be a CEO’s most important – and perilous – decision.

By the time somebody is in line to be considered for a Chief Marketing Officer position, they should have amply demonstrated the key traits that make a successful marketing executive:

  • Experience that can be described in terms of financial results
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and nurture a team
  • Strategic orientation
  • Passionate customer advocacy
  • Superb communication skills

But what are the special qualities of a CMO in this era of real-time, two-way, global social marketing? What are the qualities that don’t show up in a resume that are critically important to the “New CMO?”

Keen analytical sense.

Sure, screening creative new ads is sexy but the heart of marketing is data and research. The best CMOs can help a company use data to distill the customer signal from the market noise. CMOs should be expert in marketing research methodologies and statistical analysis techniques.

A long runway.This is a term Jack Welch used to describe managerial candidates with potential to move beyond their current position. Hiring a CMO is one of the most important investments to the future of your company. If you’re not hiring somebody who could potentially replace you as CEO, why settle? Find somebody who can relate to finance, production, HR … every part of the organization and become a true leader and advocate across the enterprise.

Learning orientation.

The rate of change in the marketing landscape is in hyper-drive. At a C-level position, you can’t be an expert in all the latest technologies and ideas, but you have to be able to keep up enough to ask the right questions. Another key skill is knowing HOW to learn in this environment.

A need for speed.

One of the biggest changes to how we market today is the need to create an organization that can be reactive and fast. While there will always be a place for traditional research and long-term planning, the real-time nature of the web provides an unprecedented opportunity to detect and react to subtle shifts in opinion, customer needs, competitor activities and new product and service opportunities. Creating a corporate culture of rapid response is one of the greatest challenges facing CMOs today.

Well that’s my take on it. What did I miss?  What does it take to be a CMO in the Age of the Social Web?

Mark Schaefer is an educator and managing director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. His daily blog, {grow}, contains insights on practical marketing solutions:

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