The CMO Checklist: Essentials Every Future CMO Needs to Master

Every aspiring CMO will have already prepared for the demands of the C-suite by day one as a marketing executive—from keeping tabs on the latest advances in marketing technology and understanding Big Data to developing open lines of communication across relevant departments.

While the more obvious skills are taught in every business school, what do battle-tested CMOs consider their most valuable competencies? We’ve gleaned wisdom from some of our recent CMO Roundtables to develop a checklist for the committed future CMO.

The Bottom Line First: CMOs Should Be Economists Too

It goes without saying that a deep understanding of ROI goals with reference to ad spend is one of the many skill essentials for successful marketers. However, future CMOs need to learn to see much more than the big financial picture in order to keep your brand (and your career) competitive.

You must understand the “why’s” behind your brand’s targeted ROI to effectively allocate resources—human and financial—to respond to and anticipate CFO directives. As a CMO, you’ll be responsible for the creation of accountability safeguards within the marketing department that assure that your strategy is in sync with long-range financial goals. That means understanding the financial context of your marketing plans—from P&L impact to the Big Data surrounding customer retention figures and to resource management for lead generation.

Developing an “inside-out” knowledge of the internal and external details that drive your company’s financial growth is critical to your success as a CMO.

Those Other Social Skills: CMOs as Sociologists

While most future CMOs know that great data is crucial to engineering a relevant audience portrait, understanding how that data translates into strategy in the specific environment of a brand can only be learned on the job. That means having a clear view of what your brand typically does with actionable insights.

Like a sociologist, you’ll need to undertake a data-driven look at your brand’s “personal” history, paying particular attention, of course, to marketing and sales. Do we innovate rapidly based on new data? Can we pivot towards an emergent audience in time to maintain an advantage? Does your brand identity lend itself towards supporting (or hampering) new insights that can bolster ROI? These are questions that as CMO, you’ll have to ask and answer before the first strategy session.

Understanding the “social” context of your company’s strategy-building processes will save you time and other valuable resources as you learn how to cultivate impactful marketing plans.

Playing Politics: The CMO as Political Scientist

You're probably already well aware that, although the numbers don’t lie, they can’t tell you everything about your audience. What drives them, what they want, what inspires them to buy, etc are all insights that you will intuit as you test, retest, and assimilate first-hand data gleaned from your campaigns.

Like a political scientist, you’ll learn the language of your audience’s values, and how to connect your message to their unique requirements. You’ll also divine, and acknowledge, their frustrations with “the way things are” in your messaging—you’ll present your brand as an answer and a problem solver, not just a positive product choice.

In thinking like a political scientist, you’ll develop the ability to see beyond the campaign to the larger issues driving customer loyalty. You’ll also examine the context of consumer choice; what does your targeted audience’s world look like socially? Economically? This means understanding not just your audience’s influencers, for example, but the messaging that those influencers use successfully.

The factors that make your audience “vote” for your product and become vocal brand advocates are the elements of your message that you’ll amplify and use to guide customer retention strategy.

While your mandates may change as your role evolves, there are a few general rules of thumb that our CMOs shared with us:

Want to learn more? Join your peers for the next Virtual Roundtable event.

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