What It Will Take for a Marketer to Be Successful This Year

What will it take to be a successful chief marketing officer in 2021? Nothing less than having all or at least most of 26 traits, insists a post on the blog of the digital Australian agency, Core dna.

It’s an ambitious list that begins with traits most of us will agree are not just desirable in any leader, but are fundamental. These include being a team player, having a curious mind, being a “communication maestro” and having the skill to see the big picture while managing the details and daily tasks.

Then, writes Sam Saltis, the founder and CEO of Core dna who runs the global firm from Boston, CMOs must also know what’s on the “cutting edge of marketing innovation.” Discerning what’s a fad and what is a worthwhile investment, he says, keeps the company “moving forward instead of being late to emerging trends.”

Successful CMOs “don’t simply follow the crowd but instead push forward to help the company become an early adopter on the trends and platforms that will be huge into the future.”

That requires taking risks. Not impulsive ones. Rather those risks that are “calculated, data and research-backed,” he says. That requires another trait, bravery, because there may be pushback from “stakeholders and superiors, so a CMO needs to be strong-willed and resilient in the face of skepticism.”

As exhaustive a list as it is, there’s little with which to disagree. Open-minded, diplomatic, growth-obsessed, data literate and the others on Saltis’ list all appear in one way or another in other posts and analyses about the transformation of the role of chief marketing officer.

Writing for Deloitte on The Wall Street Journal’s website, Marie Gulin-Merle, global vice president of ads marketing at Google, says the COVID pandemic forced marketers to adapt on the fly to the new challenges and rapid changes.

Already the shortest-tenured of corporate leaders with half on the job fewer than 30 months, CMOs now are expected to be “customer champions, frontline defenders of the brand, stewards of internal morale and culture, and drivers of company growth initiatives.” Yet their main job is growing the business, she says.

Acknowledging marketers “can’t be all things at once,” Gulin-Merle offers Deloitte’s five “archetypes” as a guide:

  1. Customer champion
  2. Growth driver
  3. Innovation catalyst
  4. Capability builder
  5. Chief storyteller

“While CMOs may naturally fit one or two of the archetypes,” she says, “They can learn to prioritize their time and effort across all of the roles depending on the needs of the organization.”

“Most CMOs should focus above all on innovation and growth — on building data and insights-driven marketing organizations that can read customer signals at scale and make them actionable in real time.

“In a dynamic market, that’s where CMOs can help organizations grow and stay resilient.”

Photo by Elio Santos

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