Through my years of work running full-service marketing agencies, I’ve gained a deeper understanding to what works, what doesn’t and the six attributes of best-in-class chief marketing officers.
Whatever size your organization may be today, here are the six attributes I’ve identified to hiring the right CMO to best lead your business to business marketing efforts.
Humanize B2B Marketing
If you want to know if a CMO is great, find out how many people follow him/her job-to-job. Great CMOs are recognized leaders and mentors, empowering and motivating their people to think, create and drive results. They know how to effectively delegate, value input from their team, and create a culture that motivates high performance and inspires loyalty. Whether in the B2B or B2C arena, compassionate leaders humanize the organization and breed success.
Top CMOs are successful in building skills and spinning off marketers who take these attributes to other organizations. They are proud marketing parents of those in their tribe who go off to do great things themselves.
Strategy and Operations Focused
Most people think great CMOs are creative folks who are about pretty pictures, cool commercials or impressive print ads. Not so. Great CMOs challenge brands to think differently.
They engage regularly in helicopter thinking, meaning they are able to see the big picture and the operational implications. They know how to translate the practical aspects of day-to-day operations into abstract concepts to reach new understandings. They demonstrate a relentless commitment to improvement, teasing out B2B marketing options that offer the highest return on investment with minimal needed resources. CMOs use strategy as a guide to achieve the organization’s goals, and they are flexible in making necessary changes and tweaks along the way.
Great CMOs don’t base their decisions on a gut feeling or what they think will work creatively. They develop reporting tools, they set and monitor key metrics, they test, they prod, they learn, and they consume information like water. Great CMOs not only want to know what works, but why it works in order to duplicate and improve upon those results.
The best CMOs realize B2B marketing isn’t an individual sport. They seek out and value the support and input from sales, R&D, operations, IT, and finance to drive revenue change for a business. This approach helps them lead and unite employees around a common goal. Hence, they play well inside the sandbox.
Broad not Deep
Great CMOs are hybrid B2B marketers with working knowledge in data analysis, optimization and testing, inbound marketing and cross channel marketing. They are technology-savvy, having a broad understanding of both old and new marketing channels. They have the architectural vision of how to integrate and leverage these channels for the greatest positive impact on revenue. However, they rely on key employees or their marketing agencies to implement and use best practices. If a marketing tool or tactic isn’t working, an effective CMO will dive in headfirst.
To lead B2B marketing today, you need to employ controlled-risk takers — individuals who will try different practices, techniques and tactics to drive results. They are the first adapters of new technologies, putting them to work to drive revenue. I say these CMOs are controlled-risk takers because they never engage in blind choices. They test these techniques or tactics then measure them carefully to see if they are working.
Great CMOs are all about revenue and growth, period. They are not about building internal kingdoms. They are not about power, prestige, pretty pictures or the next job. The best CMOs want to maximize ROI, so they can get the best revenue return on every dollar they spend. They are about revenue growth. That’s how they keep score.
Keeping these great people engaged and happy in their work environment will play a pivital role in the success of your business. Afterall, happy employees create happy customers, and a happy customer is a loyal one. Learn the ins and outs to keeping your CMOs happy, engaged and doing great work by checking out the “How Employee Experience Fosters Brand Success.”