For the CMO

Anxious to Be the CMO? 5 Skills You Need to Move Ahead

If you’re a director or VP of marketing, your next step might be the C-suite. Here’s a closer look at how to prepare to become a CMO.

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Chief Marketing Officer: It’s the top position marketers can aspire to in their own area. For many marketing directors and VPs of marketing, it’s also the next logical step in their career. However, as career paths in fields like marketing become more winding, it’s important to be strategic about preparing yourself for a leadership position. Here are five skills every future CMO needs:

  1. Strategic advising. One of the most important skills of the CMO is the ability to see the big picture and translate that into a high-level marketing strategy. In order to land a job as a CMO, you’ll need demonstrated experience creating strategies that win—whether they’re go-to-market strategies or social media plans that connect with the target audience. Most importantly, a CMO must be able to pull it all together in an omnichannel approach that elevates the company’s performance.
  2. Managing teams. Perhaps the most critical role CMOs play is overseeing the marketing department, partners, and other key players. The abilities to get along well with people, motivate teams, and make difficult leadership decisions are essential. Demonstrate not only that you can directly oversee individual staff but that you have the skills necessary to guide larger segments of the organization.
  3. Acting as part of a leadership team. The CMO sits in the C-suite and works with the CEO, CFO, and other top leaders to make a firm’s most important decisions. Representing the perspective of marketing—and integrating that point of view into larger conversations—is an essential part of the role. Take the time to understand how key leadership decisions are made and how an understanding of the market and different marketing channels can add value to those discussions.
  4. Identifying trends. Marketing is constantly evolving, and a strong CMO needs to have a nose for the trends that matter. When you’re looking for a CMO role, it’s valuable to be able to showcase how you’ve learned to make distinctions between trends that stick and those that are fads. Knowing when to invest and when to pull back are important sensibilities to bring to the table.
  5. Understanding the industry. As a CMO, your understanding of the industry you’re working in is crucial. Every industry has its own quirks and factors that influence how a company performs. Marketing leaders need to understand the nuances of the industries where they’re playing—and take the necessary steps to keep their companies competitive.

If you dream of being a CMO, now’s the time to prepare. Whether you are seeking out experiences to build your skills or making certain your expertise is reflected in your résumé, a few key steps can help ensure that you’ll one day be at the helm of an organization’s marketing efforts.

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