Technology continues to change the way companies do business, how information is shared and what leads consumers to buy. While these technological changes occur, marketers must focus on staying ahead of trends, repositioning products and services for fickle buyers, and delivering on brand promises – all in an environment that is more transparent than ever.
The CMO Role Is Expanding and Gaining Influence
The role of chief marketing officer (CMO) has also evolved. Once keepers of the brand, CMOs are now expected to possess strong business management skills, as well. Where once marketing was believed to be more art than science, CMOs are leading integration of data and analytics to drive expanding agendas, making themselves much more valuable to their organizations.
For many CMOs, increasingly complex and strategic responsibilities are the norm in a technologically advanced business environment. More responsibility leads to greater CMO clout, as organizations realize that the rise of social media and Big Data means that marketing must be involved in every aspect of customer relations, as they are all connected.
If you are a marketing or business professional or someone who aspires to the C-suite, you will need a solid educational foundation, such as an MBA in marketing, along with experience and the right personal attributes and soft skills to take on the challenges of 21st century marketing.
Companies that embrace a broader CMO role will be more particular about professionals they choose to fill it. They will need skilled, educated professionals who can lead change, shape the future and manage ever-more complex marketing functions, including:
- Responding to evolving buying patterns
- Increasing visibility on digital platforms
- Extracting value from data and analytics technologies
- Allocating resources across products and channels
- Contributing to the organization’s overall goals
The first step on the path to obtaining a CMO position is to achieve the required education. Most employers will expect candidates to have an advanced degree, such as an MBA in marketing or a specialized internet marketing MBA. The concepts and topics covered in MBA marketing programs help prepare students for the rigors of today’s rapidly changing, competitive business landscape. From core business principles and leadership theory to in-depth study of website analytics, online marketing, social media and branding, an MBA marketing degree presents essential knowledge and applicable skills that can add value to almost any organization. It is now more convenient than ever for professionals to earn an advanced degree through MBA marketing programs online, as classes are accessible 24/7 and can fit into busy work and family schedules.
Because marketing is becoming more complex, it’s helpful for aspiring CMOs to have broad experience. Often, candidates have strong skills in traditional media and branding, or in digital media, but not both. Or, they possess stellar skills across all channels, but have few leadership skills. In many firms, the CMO is expected to lead and market the company’s products and services.
However, trends are pointing toward more CMOs developing expertise in niche areas, such as mobile, analytics, design or e-commerce. Experience in a certain industry, such as hospitality, manufacturing or healthcare can help professionals advance in those fields.
In addition to education and experience, it takes a certain personality to succeed in the CMO position. Being a strategic thinker, good decision-maker and passionate brand advocate are all necessary to the role. Employers will typically seek out CMO candidates who possess certain attributes that determine success, such as:
- Clarity about the company’s mission and their responsibilities
- A good fit with the company culture and the management team
- Shared goals with the CEO
- A commitment to the team
- The ability to develop new “star players” in the organization
- A curiosity about emerging trends and technologies, as well as arts and culture
- Creative problem solving
- Right- and left-brain thinking
Elements for a Successful CMO Career
With the right education, experience and personality traits, it is possible to climb the marketing ladder and become a successful CMO. As the role expands and becomes more complex, it’s clear that the skills and knowledge provided by MBA marketing programs are essential to making the leap to this challenging and rewarding career.