I did something recently that I rarely take the time to do—I attended a professional development event sponsored by Gartner and the Churchill Club, the Silicon Valley business and technology organization. The event featured a panel of CMOs and senior marketing leaders, who discussed the challenges and opportunities of corporate marketing and the strategic “marketing mindset.” Needless to say, the discussion was illuminating. Here is a summary of what I learned:
The 6 habits of successful CMOs
The marketing function is changing in many organizations; it is a growth engine but is often responsible for innovation as well. According to Gartner, the traits of successful CMOs include:
- Thinking like a CEO—or, more accurately, connecting with the CEO’s vision and bringing it to life
- Mastering customer economics, with the ability to segregate high-value customers
- Effectively balancing omnichannel versus multichannel—adopting the right mix of channels, in other words
- Actively delivering on brand promise with truth; it is the best way to ensure that the experience on the other side of the click is a good one
- Forgetting about Big Data and focusing instead on the right data
- Not talking and thinking about digital per se, because digital isn’t considered a separate “specialty” anymore
The essential skills of marketers today
With the growing importance of marketing automation and the use of data by marketing departments, marketing is no longer seen as the bastion of artistic extroverts. On the other hand, the pendulum continues to swing.
More and more marketers have a hard science—such as math and engineering—background, but they often have creative outlets, too. The key is to strike the right balance between art and science. We also need to reevaluate traditional roles and titles. An emerging and valued skill, for example, is storytelling. Perhaps your next new hire will be a stand-up comedian, someone who can write short scripts with attention-grabbing “punch lines,” in effect. Or you might want to consider hiring a former journalist who can effectively tell a story based on facts.
Marketing is content hungry, and it takes a village to feed it
Marketing is fueled by content, but how can a marketing leader corral content creators when everyone is contributing?
In many organizations a content transformation is underway with the adoption of a local, decentralized model. The panelists at the Churchill Club event agreed that they don’t want to control content creation—they just want content to be “coherent.” Some things, like the corporate logo and color palette, are sacred; they can’t be “messed with.” At the other end of the spectrum are those projects for which there are no rules, and decisions are made quickly, at the local level. Somewhere in the middle are so-called soft rules, guidelines for the customization of existing content for local markets.
Looking into the marketing crystal ball
Gartner predicted several years ago that in 2017 CMOs would be making most tech buying decisions in enterprises, and that is proving to be accurate. Additional predictions:
- Providing a positive user experience will be more important than ever before.
- Even in B2B companies, the focus will be on the “human” side of things and making emotional connections.
- Successful leaders will lead by influence, not authority. The hierarchical approach to management is disappearing.
One thing that’s clear is that the evolution of marketing will continue. Marketing is no longer merely the “bull horn” of a brand but instead has far-reaching and expanding responsibility in areas of product and business innovation; revenue and business results; and the overall customer experience.