Consistently, the most successful Chief Marketing Officers in any industry exhibit the same qualities. Some have more of these qualities than others, but I’ve noticed that the more they exhibit, the more likely they are to be successful in their current role, and more quickly successful in their next job.
Here are the ten traits most important to successful serial CMOs.
1. Detail oriented
Successful CMOs still review copy, they still get involved in the details, and they still look for the little things that make a big different. This isn’t micro-management. This is caring about, providing value and being comfortable at a tactical level.
Successful CMOs need to drive the creative process, and consistently ask for innovation from their teams. This isn’t at the expense of what’s working (even if those tactics are old or boring), but requires pushing the envelope to ensure the company and its campaigns stand out.
3. Process/metrics driven
Measure everything. Be quick and scrappy to test, but quickly develop processes for campaigns and efforts that repeat. Process drives efficiency and consistency.
Things are going to go wrong. They will break. Campaigns will fail. And occasionally, and employee might need to leave early to pick up their kid. This is life. Successful CMOs realize that and roll with it. And that reasonableness helps give them more latitude to ask more of their teams elsewhere.
5. Good/quick judge of talent
In terms of hiring, selecting vendors and determine who else in the organization can help them further their agenda, successful marketing leaders need to carefully but quickly determine who can best help now and moving forward. This includes surrounding themselves with people smarter than they are, and who can work independently when necessary to accelerate and achieve results.
6. Writing & verbal communication skills
Writing skills are important for all marketers, but especially he or she at the top of the organization. An email from the CMO at man companies can be interpreted many ways. It’s important that the CMO understand the meaning of their words, internally and externally. And the better they are at all forms of communication, the better they’ll be at driving consensus, focus and action – among their teams, vendors, partners, and peers on the executive team.
Marketing can quickly get the reputation of producing work without a tie to revenue. Successful CMOs filter everything based on it’s impact (direct or indirect) on driving existing or new revenue. That’s all that matters.
8. Constructive problem solver
Many CMOs spend a significant percentage of their time solving problems. But some of them do so by yelling, pushing, intimidating, and otherwise taking a short-sighted path to what they want. Successful CMOs work more collaboratively and constructively, actively listening to and internalizing other opinions before helping to find a compromise or solution to move forward.
9. Customer driven
It’s so easy to make decisions based on what’s easiest to execute, or what’s best for the company. But unless that decision aligns with what the customer wants, it’s only going to result in friction and discontentment. And that’s a slippery slope to a brand, reputation and market position you don’t want (and is difficult to dig out of).
10. Natural motivator
Your team needs to believe in you. Your executive peers need to see you as an equal and direct contributor to the company’s growth. You’re not just a cheerleader, although that’s part of it. You need to help your team connect the dots between what they’re doing and the company and customer’s success. Motivate and reward attention to detail, focus and results. The very best CMOs are true leaders, empowering and rewarding their teams for doing far more than they could do or drive themselves.
What about you? What traits for successful CMOs you’ve worked with are missing from this list?