Four Must-Have Skills For Modern Marketing Leaders

Today’s marketing leaders are under immense pressure, but with that also comes the opportunity to make an impact.

Four Must-Have Skills For Modern Marketing Leaders

No longer simply about building brand awareness, creating the next campaign, or choosing the most influential agency, the CMO role has undergone dramatic change in the past few years. Not only are CMOs expected to grow the sales pipeline, lead the customer experience, and take their companies into the digital age, they also have to deal with the increasingly overwhelming array of marketing technology and data.

Today’s marketing leaders are under immense pressure, but with that also comes the opportunity to make an impact. Whether you’re already a CMO, you want to become one, or you’re reporting to one, here are the four skills the modern CMO needs in order to be successful:

1. Unwavering Customer Focus

According to research by Gartner, 89% of companies stated they planned to compete primarily on customer experience by 2016. Well, my fellow marketers, 2016 is here, and if you haven’t turned your focus on the customer, it’s well past time to take action.

In order to deliver customer experiences that drive revenue, CMOs need to start from within. This means creating a cultural shift in which the customer is at the center of everything a company does.

***Where to start:***Communicate your customer focus to every employee in the company–whether or not they interact directly with customers on a daily basis. Help them understand how their work contributes to customer satisfaction, and then empower them to do what is necessary (within legal and ethical constraints, of course) to give customers what they need.

When employees are given the resources and permission to provide customers with amazing experiences, those employees are more engaged and satisfied with their work. The result? Happier customers who are willing to share those experiences, refer new customers and buy more in the future.

2. An Eye For Measurement And Analytics

Being data-savvy can help contribute to better customer interactions, but what kinds of data should CMOs pay attention to in the first place? Of course, sales and revenue targets are a must. But in the age of the customer, paying attention to customer-focused metrics is just as important.

Where to start: The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is nothing new, but for many companies it remains one of the key metrics in determining whether customers are likely to recommend your company. And because buyers now have the ability to share experiences at scale through social channels, review websites, and communities, NPS has been given a shot in the arm.

Other customer satisfaction (CSAT) metrics your company might choose to measure include:

These customer-centric metrics are a better way to measure the long-term health of customers, rather than focusing on short-term metrics, such as leads, visitors, pipeline, and opportunities.

3. Ability To Align Across The Organization

Marketing leaders hold the keys to customer data and insights gathered throughout the customer journey, so it’s logical that CMOs hold responsibility for the customer experience. That’s why it’s expected they take charge. According to Gartner, CEOs now look to CMOs to lead the customer experience across all business functions.

Where to start: Show the value that marketing brings to the other business functions–especially in the area of data and analytics. Rather than keeping all of those customer insights to themselves, marketing leaders must share that data and collaborate with the CEO as well as the leaders of sales, product, customer success, and other key business units. This will help develop a 360-degree view of the customer that results in better customer interactions across the board.

Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Laura Ramos agreed: “CMOs create an exponentially more capable engagement model when they lead executive peers in transforming from collecting passive customer information to actively using insight to drive decision-making.”

4. Commitment To Growth

Finally, today’s CMOs must be committed to growth in many different areas. Of course, growing revenue is a given. However, CMOs should also look for growth opportunities in other areas, such as community building.

Where to start: Build a community around your brand by identifying those who already love your company–your advocates. Engage these advocates to help them derive more value from their relationship with your company, as well as to bring other customers on board, and create a strong, sustainable network of people who will not only spread positive word of mouth about your brand, but will go to bat for you when the going gets rough. Indeed, a recent Forrester report identified a direct link between advocate participation and revenue through higher conversation rates, more qualified leads and increased sales efficiency.