Lomit Patel, Vice President of Growth at IMVU, provides an overview on what makes a successful modern Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

30-second summary:

  • The modern C-suite requires CMOs to be able to touch upon, manage and measure all aspects of a business, drive and optimize customer experience and be able to consistently scale revenue.
  • There are five core skills essential for the modern CMO to succeed: Team Leadership; Adeptness with data; Practiced in Personalization; Proficient in AI and Machine Learning; and Traditional skills.
  • The modern CMO has had to evolve and adapt more than ever before.
  • CMOs must embrace change and use a blend of technology and traditional skills to bring value to an organization.
  • Understanding customer needs and perspectives and relating them to C-suite members will carry the company forward and cement the position of the CMO.

The marketing industry is adapting to new technologies, channels, regulations and changing customer preferences. This reality shapes what we look for in the modern CMO, beyond their traditional responsibilities and skill-sets.

The traditional role of the CMO tends to be more tactical – focusing on the overall marketing plan, brand equity and “voice”, and public relations. The tendency for digital was to rely on vanity metrics like views and clicks.

However, the demands of the modern C-suite require CMOs to be able to touch upon, manage and measure all aspects of a business, drive and optimize customer experience and be able to consistently scale revenue.

The CMO must prove themselves to be integral to the development of an enterprise.

There are five core skills essential for the modern CMO to succeed.

Team leadership

A good CMO needs to be more than just the leader of the marketing team. They represent the voice of the people and need to integrate consumer needs and marketing strategies in such a way as to add value to other departments and teams.

A deep understanding of organizational structure is crucial so that marketing can interact successfully with cross-functional teams. A good CMO will collaborate with the organization and members of the C-suite while explaining ways that marketing inputs can lead to tangible and measurable outputs. It is crucial marketers demonstrate their value and return on investment, and not simply as a ‘black box’ that consumes resources.

Adeptness with data

The concept of ‘data-driven marketing’ has been around for a while but it continues to grow with data sets expanding at exponential rates. Not only are more personal and professional details becoming available, the channels to access this information continue to proliferate.

The modern CMO needs to be adept at not just aggregating data from disparate sources but having the skills and knowledge to interpret it.

The ability to use data and analytics can inform real-time decision-making and strategic planning while also helping to mitigate risk. Marketing teams can adjust and improve on the fly.

The vast wealth of data available to marketers is only as helpful as the ability to interpret and act upon it. It is crucial for the CMO to be able to implement data platforms or management tools and understand how to leverage the technology to derive maximum benefit.

Marketing leaders who understand and can share data knowledge with their peers will be seen as a crucial part of the organization and a key part of driving growth.

Practiced in personalization

Modern customers are increasingly demanding and their expectations continue to grow. It is not enough to simply be delivering adverts for products the customer searches for online.

Organizations have been forced to rethink approaches to customer experience. Brand engagement and personalization should be present throughout the entire customer journey.

Today’s customers expect a more personally tailored experience which builds with every interaction they have with the brand.

The CMO needs to be the master of guiding the brand experience, reflecting individual consumption preferences, values and lifestyles. Analytical tools can be used to track interactions and manage the engagement experience.

By prioritizing the customer and using personal data to create value at every step of the journey, marketers can attract and retain more brand-loyal customers. In this way, the CMO can quantifiably show they are an accelerant for the growth of the business and customer base.

Proficient in AI and machine learning

Digital marketers have long been preaching the value of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). While AI and ML tools are critical for leveraging data and consequent decision-making, using an “AI” is often a misunderstood catch-all buzzword.

It is essential that modern CMOs understand these technologies and how they can be used to maximize experience and engagement.

Advancements in these technologies may lead to unprecedented opportunities for personalization and predictive marketing.

However, until their potentials are realized, CMOs need to be discerning in whether they truly bring value at present. It is another changing field and potential tool that CMOs need to understand and prepare for.

Traditional skills

As the role of CMO continues to evolve and adapt, certain fundamental skills will always be integral to the position. Creative ideas, campaigns, and strategic storytelling are traditional ways to build a strong brand.

These abilities need to be balanced and enhanced with the rise of data-based analysis. The modern CMO needs to balance traditional and technical skill-sets.

The successful CMO knows how and when to use the latest technologies in conjunction with older core abilities.  They need to embrace innovation and know what works best for the marketing team and organization at the present time.

The modern CMO has had to evolve and adapt more than ever before. They face new challenges, expectations and opportunities as a result of technological development and changing markets.

This is not an exhaustive list as the skills and knowledge necessary for success are as varied as the industries they navigate.

CMOs must embrace change and use a blend of technology and traditional skills to bring value to an organization. Understanding customer needs and perspectives and relating them to C-suite members will carry the company forward and cement the position of the CMO.

Marketers can be a force for good and impact the world in a way that benefits everyone. I am proud to work in this field and hope you all feel the same way.

Lomit Patel is the Vice President of Growth at IMVU. Prior to IMVU, Lomit managed growth at early-stage startups including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple) and EarthLink. Lomit is a public speaker, author, advisor, and recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit’s new book Lean AI, which is part of Eric Ries’ best-selling “The Lean Startup” series, is now available at Amazon.

This article first appeared on ClickZ.

Author

Lomit Patel is the Vice President of Growth at IMVU. Prior to IMVU, Lomit managed growth at early-stage startups including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple) and EarthLink. Lomit is a public speaker, author, advisor, featured in Forbes Magazine and recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit’s new bestselling book Lean AI, is part of Eric Ries' "The Lean Startup" series.