In the past, being a good CMO meant you were a good marketer. Today, being a successful CMO requires command of skills akin to a CEO. In addition to all things marketing, today’s CMO must also be adept at finance, design, technology, and data analytics. Juggling all of these skills can be challenging.
Here are seven ways CMOs can keep up with the rapid pace of change:
1. Relinquish control: Top down, centralized management doesn’t work anymore. People who control too much are failing or are about to fail because there’s simply too much coming in too fast. That’s why if you want to keep up with the flow, let go of control.
Build teams that orchestrate others to scale both channels and input. And stay open-minded to new ideas from anyone. Ask more questions and spend more time listening. I always look at what’s working for other companies and talk to employees and other marketing leaders. This helps me see what’s missing or what we could be doing to stay on trend.
2. Teach your core: Just as failure comes from over controlling, it also comes from attacking everything without a strategy. Before letting go, make sure the team understands your brand positioning, target market, and key messages. This ensures that everyone from your customer service team to the person designing your landing page is focused on creating a consistently positive customer experience.
Knowing your positioning, target market, and key messages also helps keep your team on track. This can help your team avoid common mistakes, like overreacting to data in a customer segment that may not be as valuable as another. Or angering a segment by speaking too generically. Everyone on your team should know how to talk to your customer segments and the micro segments within them, especially these days, when it’s easier for customers to access your managers and other employees directly through email or social media.
3. Know your numbers, then know them some more: With the timely and seemingly infinite amount of data available, marketers must be more quantitative and analytical than ever before. Consider all of your customer touch points and the initiatives you’re running now. Activity creates more data, which also creates more noise that must be sifted through. Honing your quantitative and analytical skills helps you turn the sea of data into relevant insights that keeps your team focused. For added support, you can hire specialists in this area on a freelance basis.
4. Build a tactical team: As marketers, our main job is turning data into insights, then executing on them. These days, running multivariate tests are standard practice. But the results can be misleading if you aren’t drawing insights from them. That’s why it’s critical that your team knows how to work at the strategic and executional level and carves out enough time to do it extremely well. Otherwise, you risk reacting to fads or the wrong audience rather than focusing on what makes a favorable impact.
5. Embrace the need for speed: Iteration is the norm. The pace of change continues because you’re able to iterate faster. Market research used to rely on primary data, but now we’re seeing more behavioral data, like customer input on Twitter or through reviews. Growth comes from using the expanding number of channels and input to refine core messages. As you continue refining, more micro channels may develop, which may accelerate your pace of change. Testing and executing against primary and behavioral data requires the ability to change constantly.
6. Diversify your team: It’s more important than ever to hire people, like Millennials, who grew up using popular technology because they know how to bring people into each channel. Marketing teams also benefit from members of differing opinions, cultures, and backgrounds. In fact, a recent McKinsey & Company report found that companies with more racially and ethnically diverse workforces are 35% more likely to see higher financial returns. And gender-diverse companies increase performance by 15% over the average.
Because the more diverse your team, the better they can listen to what might be needed in varying markets. And the better they will be able to create engaging content marketing, which then drives more customers to your website or store.
7. Focus your talent on doing what people enjoy: Retaining top talent comes down to making sure the majority of what people do is what they enjoy—and helping them see how their work directly impacts the company. Don’t let valuable, in-house talent get bogged down by the details of execution when other employees can get the job done well. If your team’s stretched thin, augment it with skilled freelancers. Many times, they’re so experienced, they can get the work done more cost-effectively. Instead, help your employees focus on the chief insights that move the needle for your company.
Doing it all at today’s pace of change can be overwhelming. By maintaining solid strategy with flexibility, you’ll ride the wave and keep your business on track.