Marketing isn’t what it used to be—and being a CMO requires new skill sets, from forming partnerships across departments to understanding how data can maximize the customer journey. Here’s a look at the CMO’s new roles and responsibilities:
CFO skills required
New marketing leaders are “good at chasing a dollar throughout an organization, because that’s what you need to do as a marketing technology person, follow the flow of the dollar,” says Erica Seidel, founder and executive recruiter at The Connective Good, a marketing executive recruiting firm. “You’re looking for someone who is forensically oriented like that.”
"Today’s CMO … has to be really a general manager who understands the business clearly, who understands how to connect the dots between the actions of marketing and the outcomes for the business very clearly."
—Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer and president of the healthcare business, Mastercard
"We need less talk about the change we need, and [more] talk about the change you did for real which had an impact out there."
—Fernando Machado, global CMO, Burger King
Broad expertise is a must
In the past, CMOs have often risen to their role after succeeding as a specialist. But the interdisciplinary familiarity needed to formulate a comprehensive data strategy requires broad-based expertise. “Companies have realized that they need somebody who can be the architect of the whole customer experience,” Seidel says. “Technologists don’t always have that high-altitude view.”
"Yes, CMOs will have a lot more responsibility. Their visibility, their profile, the profile of the marketing organization—all are going to increase. … It’s going to be critical for marketing to collaborate and be explicit about how to make big decisions across boundaries." —Aditya Joshi, customer strategy and marketing partner, Bain & Co.
"Customers want to relate with brands and organizations differently. There is a definite expectation that you should do more than just tick the boxes of what it means to be a responsible corporate citizen; they expect more authenticity and greater accessibility—it is much more personal." —Gerhard Fourie, director of marketing and brand strategy, Aston Martin
A nontraditional background is a plus
The catch, Seidel says, is that such hybrid skill sets are difficult to find. The best candidates often have an atypical, diverse set of professional experiences that has trained them to reach across departmental barriers and see value in initially nonintuitive partnerships. “Sometimes companies don’t recognize the value of those dispersed experiences, but those zigs and zags can actually come together to form quite a potent cocktail,” she says.
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