"The nature of marketing has changed. It's time to reboot the CMO role." —Redefining the CMO, Deloitte Insights
I'm not a job consultant, nor am I a resume writer. I'm a CMO staring the future of marketing in the face and contemplating the skills a high-level marketing professional will need to stay relevant, employable, and successful this year and beyond.
At the risk of stating the obvious: the 2020s have arrived. And there's no denying they're propelled by technology. You can surf the wave like a champ, or sail off into the sunset.
You've read the articles claiming organizations have started to part ways with CMOs, reallocating their responsibilities to leaders such as the CIO. In the C-suite, CMOs have the highest turnover by far. The average tenure is 3.5 years, according to Winmo, and top CMOs have their job for 43 months, on average, and their median tenure is 27.5 months, according to Spencer Stuart.
It appears it's time to think about what is or should be on your resume—whether you're in job acquisition or job preservation mode.
In the words of Jennifer Cannon, senior editor at Third Door Media, "2020 is predicted to be a critical year for CMOs to deliver seamless customer experiences with their martech investments and, crucially, generate attributable revenue from those martech-enabled experiences."
You, my CMO friend, are responsible for driving revenue. Are you ready?
Your Professional Objective
Atop most resumes is a "career objective" or a "professional summary" statement. What should yours be? Consider this data from The Evolved CMO, a research project by Forrester Research for Heidrick & Struggles.
Source: The Evolved CMO, Forrester Research and Heidrick & Struggles
Although upwards of 40% in the study claim "increase brand awareness" is a top marketing objective, that seems a bit obvious—even old school—to me. I'd be nervous to have such a predictable objective stand alone in my resume's first section. I'd also be wary to waste space on some of the more cliché objectives, such as "innovate," "integrate," and even "acquire talent"—as important as those objectives are.
Instead, the CMO's professional objective in 2020 should focus on making money or investing it wisely in enabling technologies and talent.
The following is an excerpt from the report's executive summary: "It's time for chief marketers to demonstrate their abilities to understand the business and apply their knowledge and expertise to drive growth and profitability for the organization."
In my mind, that study offers some good hints regarding CMO objectives that will score points with the CEO.
Your skills drive your career. Clearly, your skill set must evolve in the ways of digital marketing if you want to have staying power when 2025 rolls around.
Here are the skills that belong on the 2020 CMO's resume (or in his or her bag of tricks).
The days when the process of understanding your customer involved the occasional focus group or survey are over. Today, there is no excuse not to get to know our consumers much better.
Effective CMOs must position themselves as customer experts, clearly showing they interact with customers regularly and learn from them. They must stay connected, understand the user journey, and bring the voice of the customer to the company's strategic roundtables.
Data from a study by Deloitte Insights reveals "being the voice of customer at the leadership table" is the number one success factor cited most by CMOs
Omnichannel User Experience Development
Customers experience your brand via an ever-expanding array of channels, online and off, and expect consistency. The things they say about your brand shape its reputation. Life as a CMO becomes about overseeing an omnichannel practice and recognizing the need to foster a customer-centric culture throughout the marketing organization and the company at large.
Fully 80% of buyers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences, according to Epsilon. The CMOs of 2020 should have personalized communications on their radar for websites, email, mobile, advertising, content marketing, as well as offline channels.
account-based marketing (ABM)
ABM concentrates Sales and marketing resources on specific target accounts. Each is targeted with personalized campaigns designed to resonate with the decision-makers.
Programmatic advertising, which uses data to bid on ad space in real-time and expose ads to prospects across multiple channels, is where it's at in digital advertising now. It can help you reduce the costs of advertising and improve ROI. More results, more budget to work with, right?
Today, marketing organizations are learning to love a thing called performance marketing, which has commanded an increasingly larger slice of marketing budgets in recent years. The term refers to online marketing and paid advertising programs whereby advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. Those actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more.
Nearly all B2B marketers now use content marketing to reach customers. Prospects consume content in different formats, so it's important to recognize the trends driving content in 2020 and beyond—including online video, more than ever before. Fully 70% of B2B buyers watch video during the buying process.
The 2020 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute reveals the top 10 content types used by B2B marketers
A relative of content marketing, Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools needed to sell more effectively. Sales enablement enables more sales professionals to achieve quota, which obviously plays well across the C-suite.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search—search engine marketing—never stops changing. However, for the foreseeable future, one thing that won't change is its ubiquity and power. Every CMO should have his or her finger on the pulse of search.
Nearly every B2B company uses LinkedIn, which has established itself as the leading social platform for B2B lead generation. Social media continues to grow in importance and should not be overlooked by any company's marketing leader.
Blake Morgan suggests the CMO must act as a CTO: "To leverage technology, the CMO has to be aware of its capabilities and be competent in multiple programs, while also staying ahead of new advancements," she writes.
Marketing automation... customer data platforms... interactive content... virtual and augmented reality, machine-learning, artificial intelligence... shoppable social media posts... voice search....
You got this, right?
Marketing is a team sport, bringing a vast array of talents to bear. As new challenges pop up, you need to work with more agencies and vendors and manage more freelancers. The CMO must identify where gaps exist and address them through hiring, mentoring, and strategic partnerships.
Today, we measure everything, including—and above all—dollars. CMOs are responsible for increasing Marketing's contribution to the bottom line. Of course, that necessitates understanding various types of analytics and using data to drive strategy.
The real value a CMO can bring to the C-suite table is data-driven insight. CMOs must translate marketing insights into the language of their C-suite peers on multiple fronts, including finance, strategy, sales, and talent.
Budgeting and Strategic Planning
Marketing activities must be translated into financial language, tying marketing efforts to financial metrics and goals with data.
Obviously, you can't change what you studied and where you went to school. But you need to keep learning. If you're to rely only on what you know now, you can expect to become quickly antiquated.
Perpetual learning is a must for CMOs and their teams in the 2020s. A CMO Council study lists how CMOs plan to overcome digital deficiencies and improve talent performance:
- Encourage peer engagement and knowledge transfer
- Attend relevant conferences, webinars, and online courses
- Run regular internal training and development programs
- Subscribe to value sources of content, research, and learnings
- Add new resources, skill sets, and capabilities
- Bring in consultants and domain experts for presentations
Parting Thoughts on Agility, Responsiveness, and Evolution
"CMOs face a new world of marketing choices and arguably have to be the most agile and responsive executive in the face of the changing market as business strategy and marketing strategy become more synonymous." —John Kennedy, vice-president of marketing, IBM
Source: The Evolved CMO, Forrester Research and Heidrick & Struggles
The Forrester report I mentioned earlier presents career aspirations for CMOs. It was a close race for the top spot. More than 30% of CMOs aspire to move to larger company or become a CEO. I hope I've given you some inspiration for getting there.
And look at number three! More than 20% are living their dream. If you feel the same way, I hope your dream lives on in the decade to come.
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