Finding CMO Peers In New Places

As a chief marketing officer in today’s world, one of the most powerful tools I have is the collective voice of my peers, people I engage with regularly through a CMO advisory group.

Finding CMO Peers In New Places

As marketing leaders, no one knows or feels how quickly consumer behavior and trends change more than we do. This is an industry that only grows more complex, with big data, analytics, social media, smartphones, and more, making this the most exciting yet challenging time I’ve experienced in my more than 30-year career.

I also don’t have to tell you how much this landscape has transformed—and in such a short time. The speed, direction, and magnitude of those changes have been widely discussed. But in a world that is now always on—and with marketers facing increasingly more pressure to deliver results that move the needle in measurable ways—how do we stay ahead of this fast-changing game we’re playing? And even more importantly, how do we grow in our roles, continuing to push our companies forward so that rather than chasing the next big trend, we’re creating it?

The answers are not clear. Where this industry ends up is really anyone’s guess. What did become clear to me a few years ago, though, was that my growth as a marketing professional would be limited if I didn’t build a network of peers who fit my specific needs. As a chief marketing officer in today’s world, one of the most powerful tools I have is the collective voice of my peers, people I engage with regularly through a CMO advisory group.

Now, creating or finding the kind of group that will actually help you grow is not as easy as it may sound. You have to be clear about your goals and intentional in finding people who align with them. Here’s how to increase your chances of building a successful and impactful peer advisory group of your own.

1. “All of us is smarter than any of us:” You are among equally talented, smart, and capable people, and together, your collective experience is greater than any individual one. The knowledge you take from the group is what will ultimately elevate your performance.

2. Listen to your group members: Your group has no real stake in your game—and that’s a great thing. They’re going to ask you all the hard questions that you may not be ready for or want to hear, but that’s the advantage of strategic peer-to-peer interaction.

3. Be specific: Strong groups have precise goals. While you may differ on the minutia of a given issue or challenge, the broader aims or outcomes you’re looking to achieve are similar.

4. Learn about practices that are not common to your business: Strategies that are standard in one industry are not so in others. I’m always on the lookout for new practices that, at first glance, seem like they wouldn’t work for me. But then I think more about it and maybe they would. That’s when the real growth happens. It’s hard to find those opportunities if you stay within the lines of what you already know.

5. No one’s telling anyone what to do: Most people like implementing their own solutions. The group exists to offer feedback and knowledge that members can take note of and use in developing their own plans.

6. Picture what success looks like: Whenever you find something that works, you’re more likely to stick with it. That’s true about practically everything in life and especially your business. Once you start mastering some of the successful practices and strategies you learn through your group, you’ll be more inclined to use them in your own business.

7. Stay accountable: By their nature, peer advisory groups and the level of success are based on how committed each and every member is to holding one another accountable.

When we’re among like-minded people who face similar challenges, but who aren’t involved in the day-to-day minutia of our office politics, our entire outlook can change. We learn, grow, and see beyond the limits of our own perspective. As the expectations of how we contribute evolve, we’ll need the power of a peer group to help us push limits, break barriers, and drive results across our companies.