8 Key Characteristics of the Transformational CMO of Tomorrow

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Marketing is in a continuous state of transformation as the impact of digital and technology is more prevalent than ever. And no one is in a better position of leading an organization toward innovation by effectively integrating digital than a truly modern CMO. But marketing leaders must also continue adapting and evolving alongside the constant changes.

In a marketing executive search, CEOs pursue leaders that are capable of driving continuous improvement within marketing teams and organizations as a whole to truly make an impact.

Related Video: SAP’s CMO Reveals Top 5 Ways to Transform Business in the Digital Age

Video by SAP TV

Marketing Recruiters Define a Transformational CMO

A transformational CMO differs from a traditional CMO by being heavily performance- and innovation-driven. Essentially, they are the CMOs of tomorrow.

However, marketing recruiters recognize that driving a meaningful change is a challenge and doesn’t come easy for many organizations, thus finding the right executives to alleviate those pain points in marketing isn’t any easier. The transformation of digital and the need for innovation in the marketing space is driven by a change in consumer expectations and preferences first of all. And brands need to ensure they’re able to satisfy those needs.

Here are some key characteristics to look for in a transformational CMO during your next marketing executive search to maximize your business success.

1. Extensive Understanding of the Buyer Journey

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The most impactful CMO will know how to go beyond data and metrics to make a difference in the organization.

When conducting a marketing executive search, we look for leaders that are capable of understanding the various pain points a consumer may encounter during the customer journey. By truly understanding the buyer’s journey, CMOs are better able to drive engagement and growth.

However, both marketing recruiters and top executives know this is no simple task as the buyer’s journey is much more complicated than it appears. Transformational CMOs will have to assess which tools drive the most impact in consumer behavior and will have to gauge how these tools can create an even more valuable and seamless experience for the customer.

2. Capability to Convert Analytical Data into Valuable Information

As mentioned above, the transformational CMO must have deep understanding of data and analytics to drive demand and maximize customer value. They should have the ability to translate insights into optimized solutions that will improve your marketing efforts and ultimately the bottom line of your company.

The amount of data that’s available can be slightly overwhelming for even the most seasoned marketing executives, but when leveraged properly, it can provide organizations with an abundance of valuable insights way beyond the buyer’s journey. With such an influx of data in today’s digital world, the ability to translate data and make sense of it is something marketing recruiters can’t afford to forget when looking for the right candidates.

3. Power to Create Emotional Connections to the Brand

Your brand is everything. The impact a brand has today is more complex than it used to be for organizations, especially in the marketing space. A strong brand goes far beyond a memorable logo or slogan – it’s the perception consumers have when they hear your company’s name. Thus, it needs to be immersed in every element and strategic move of your organization to make a true impact.

Developing a powerful brand entails paying close attention to your consumers and their behaviors as you want your brand to be deeply ingrained in the minds of consumers. Effective branding involves successfully meeting your target audience’s needs and wants.

In a marketing executive search, marketing recruiters look for CMOs who understand the significance of branding and how digital impacts your brand. Transformational CMOs must know that a strong brand goes beyond a good product or service; it portrays an unforgettable story your audience can connect with.

4. Drive Innovation

Innovation is key in staying ahead. As a CMO, one must embrace innovation in the organization.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, marketing recruiters look for leaders that are the face of change and growth. Marketing is evolving so quickly that CMOs must be capable of working in the white space – essentially starting from nothing. These transformational CMOs need to be comfortable with ambiguity and innovation, and able to thrive in new environments.

Your needs and responsibilities of innovation may depend on the size of your company and your industry. However, integrating an innovative mindset throughout your whole organization (big or small) is key in staying ahead.

5. Deep Familiarity with Martech

Your CMO must be comfortable working with innovative technology. Transformational CMOs have a clear understanding of your marketing technology stack and know how to effectively utilize it to improve and optimize results.

In a marketing executive search, marketing recruiters favor candidates who have successfully utilized technology to improve organizational results. These candidates will not only be able to recognize the martech needs, but will know how to implement it to build key strategies.

6. Possess an Agile Mindset

The transformational CMOs must be familiar with lean and agile methodologies. Lean and agile methodologies have transformed other industries, and have a great potential to improve practices within the digital marketing space.

The lean philosophy can be used to help brands maximize customer value while optimizing for a specific desired outcome. Agile principles can be used to amplify your organization’s marketing efforts by helping your team collectively adapt for changes in real time and using your customers as the central focus in building effective solutions.

When looking for a transformational CMO during your next marketing executive search, the ability to apply lean and agile principles is key in identifying cutting-edge candidates.

7. Ability to Bust the Silo Mentality

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Working with the CEO and other leaders, the transformational CMO must be able to break down the silo mentality within the organization. Companies that have this mentality significantly hinder their efforts and performance across all departments.

In order to truly lead an organization toward change, marketing recruiters encourage executive leaders who break down barriers between different departments to create an internal alignment within the company.

Your brand is only as good as the people who work for it, and it can’t reach its full potential without complete cooperation across all departments.

8. Capacity to Collaborate Effectively

In order to lead top-line growth, your CMO needs to possess the ability to work with C-level counterparts, key stakeholders, and various teams within the organization.

Similarly to breaking down organizational silos, effective collaboration with other members on your team and the organization as a whole is imperative in driving company-wide change. Transformational CMOs must work closely with every department and encourage their team to do the same.

A leader cannot promote collaboration without being the prime example. That’s why marketing recruiters emphasize the need in pursuing executive candidates that lead by action.

Closing Words

The CMO stands at the intersection of innovation and change, and will continue to make a notable impact on every organization’s bottom line. If you find that you’re lacking in driving maximum growth, the transformational CMO is perhaps just what your organization needs as soon as possible.

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3 thoughts on “8 Key Characteristics of the Transformational CMO of Tomorrow”

  1. I truly enjoyed reading the article on the transformation CMO. I totally agree with the 8 principles behind the transformation mentality of the CMO. I also believe there is at least a 9th area: being the linking pin between the outside world of the customer with the inside world of the company’s technology, processes, and people.

    At the beginning of the article, the author mentioned that CEOs want marketing leaders that focus on continuous improvement. I wonder if that runs contrary to the innovative mindset. Continuous improvement means less risk and I believe many CEOs are risk adverse. Yet true innovation is due to new to the company or new to the world ideas and those entail more risk. For a transformational CMO to survive, he/she better have the support of the CEO to enable those changes to take place or new initiative will fail.

    I don’t believe the concept of needing a transformational CMO is new today and certainly not new (from my perspective) because of digital technology. I have always believed and advocated for a CMO to be responsible for profitable revenue growth or he/she does not deserve a seat at the table. Too many CMOs are really “fluff and stuffers” making things pretty vs. getting into the nits and nats about profitable growth. And a CMO is in a unique role of being that integrative person to align internal functions to a common goal to build a customer franchise.

    Notwithstanding these comments, I believe the article should provoke thought not only among marketing executives that desire to be CMOs but also among the CEOs that will hire them. Good job.

    David Friedman
    C-Level Partners
    Angel Investor, TechCoastAngels
    Author: StreetSavvy Business: A Way to Prevent Mediocrity in Business

    1. David, Good points. I believe it does take a committed CEO, as well as, the investment in systems to tie together the people and the processes of an organization so that measurements are in place to achieve the growth targets.
      John D Daus
      VP Digital

  2. Hi David and John, Olena Eaton here, Head of Marketing at MarketPro. This article is the result of everyone’s collaboration on our team. We put a lot of time, effort, and thought into every piece published on our weekly blog. Our marketing department works closely with our executive search recruiters tapping into their 20+ years of experience. I am happy to hear that you find it valuable and informative. Thank you for reading and contributing to the conversation. I agree with David about the 9th area. In fact, there are a few more areas that could be added to the list. I think my team should do a follow up to this piece in near future, and we would love to hear more suggestions re additional items and areas of opportunity for transformational CMOs in the age of digital.

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