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7 Tips for CEOs Seeking a Digital CMO

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7 Tips for CEOs Seeking a Digital CMO

John Fildes

A Digital CMO Flourishes, Rather Than Gets Overwhelmed, With Digital Transformation

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The stakes have never been higher to transform enterprises into forward-looking digital organizations. Many companies are struggling to make the transition, especially in their marketing and communications.

While digital transformation can appear daunting, hiring the right chief marketing officer can be the difference between tomorrow's industry leadership and disaster. So, what designates "the right CMO"?

Discovering a digital leader is a key to success, while landing a traditional CMO with digital aspirations is a common pitfall.

Advanced digital skills are critical for digital transformation success

Connects Digital Strategy and Operations

Great digital strategies are dead in the water without the right operations to execute them. While many CMOs have big ideas, those ideas quickly become nothing more than dreams without experience creating and leading robust digital operations and change management initiatives. Traditional operations experience is helpful, but it's simply not enough to implement and capitalize on strategies in the digital age.

Digital CMOs are bringing both traditional and digital operations skills to the table. They've worked hands-on to learn the many details required to create and streamline processes, making unprecedented complexity simple.

They work hard to understand other people's roles and work collaboratively across organizations to shape and optimize processes, practices, technology, and business rules within the workspace. They work iteratively and analytically—with great agility—to shift in parallel to disruption.

And most importantly, they monitor outcomes and hold themselves accountable for delivering on the strategies they've committed to execute.

Goes Beyond Being Data Driven

Most CMOs work hard to improve their data-driven marketing skills but are limited by their tools. Acquiring more tools isn't the right solution to that problem.

Digital CMOs understand how to create data architectures and join data across disparate technology systems. They actively seek ways to create analytics capabilities that don't exist out of the box. They know when automation is possible and appropriate, and when a human touch is needed.

Beyond simple data use, they speak the language of analytics and understand data science at a high level. After all, how can a CMO leverage forward-looking capabilities when they lack the knowledge required to create them, and lead their team to do the same?

Leverages Breadth of Metrics

Every CMO knows their C-suite only has the appetite to follow a few select metrics that measure results. Digital CMOs understand it takes a magnitude of metrics to propel performance and continually improve results.

Beyond relying on a few select KPIs, digital CMOs proactively monitor and improve the full set of KPIs required to drive real business results.

Spanning revenue, cost, countries, campaigns, channels, operations, and more, digital CMOs stay tuned in to all measures of performance to create and sustain high achieving strategies, operations, and results that bolster the bottom line.

Walks the Walk on Social Media

Many CMOs communicate the importance of social strategies, but their personal social channels tell a very different story. In fact, many CMOs are completely absent from social participation, and those who do leverage social media primarily push content into an abyss.

Digital CMOs go far beyond content push and understand you can't make your brand social if you're not social yourself. Today’s CMOs lead across social channels. They leverage social media to achieve business results, and they themselves actively use social media to advocate for the company.

From thoughtfully targeting people on social channels to developing strategies that include frequency and cadence of interaction, and optimizing activities based on what works, digital CMOs work hard to walk the walk.

Starting conversations, proactively communicating with others, and sharing their point of view to influence and develop relationships, digital CMOs lead by example to ensure they know the way and can lead their team and colleagues to drive results from social strategies and channels.

Propels Account-Based Marketing

Account-Based Marketing has reached critical mass. Targeting, intelligence, personalization, and curation capabilities that were needed, but weren’t previously possible, are now readily available.

However, traditional marketers struggle to fully leverage them. Whether from a lack of technical skills, inability to work proficiently with digital tools, or incapacity to manage the many details that come with digital strategies and operations, traditional marketer’s inadequacy in this space stunts organization’s growth.

Truly digital CMOs aren’t hindered by these obstacles. Instead they rapidly deploy, optimize, and evolve account-based marketing capabilities and programs to become revenue engines. Combining digital strategy, operations, and analytics, digital CMOs combine their intuitive skills to achieve results.

Demonstrates Digital Leadership

It sometimes feels like genuine leadership skills are undervalued in the digital age. Many businesses are focused on digital technologies and tools, while overlooking what drives their adoption and use.

To ensure you find a digital CMO, define “digital leadership.” Look for a leader who displays integrity and honesty, communicates powerfully to inspire, motivate, and develop others, and builds relationships. Seek out a strong decision maker and problem solver, with a strategic perspective. And recruit someone who combines strategy, digital, and technology to drive business results.

Possesses Business Skills

Locating a truly digital CMO is hard enough. Unearthing one who possesses business skills is even harder. However, this is mission critical, so don’t let the difficulty involved stop you from securing the right talent.

Finding a digital CMO who can connect business outcomes to marketing activities is a top priority. Furthermore, you’ll want demonstrated ability to define target markets and provide proof their strategies effectively reach those markets, achieving desired outcomes.

Additionally, finding someone who demonstrates great discipline and rigor across skills is important. Meticulous management of business priorities enables alignment of marketing to outcomes. Without a revenue-first mindset, there is significant risk your marketing will miss the mark on achieving your business goals.

In Summation

While many marketers boast about being digital, there is an incredible difference between aspiring to be digital and being a digitally proficient leader. Many marketers will talk big when marketing themselves, but it’s important not to overlook what really makes someone a truly digital CMO.

Finding a person strong in these core areas will be the difference between success and disaster as you prevent digital disruption. Your organization will be more adept, agile, and able to not only travel the course, but to lead the pack against competitors.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You and your organization’s success are at stake, so be disciplined and committed to hiring a truly digital CMO.

Ask These Questions

  1. How has the person used digital to transform their organization?
  2. What experience do they have leading digital operations?
  3. How professionally active is the person on social media?
  4. How advanced is the person’s use of marketing analytics?
  5. What leadership skills does the person demonstrate?

About John Fildes

I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.

I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.

Learn More: Marketing Leader | Experienced Entrepreneur | Trusted Mentor

All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.

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