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The CMO role today is completely different from what it used to be a few decades ago. It has far evolved from the “make things pretty” department and has earned the respect of their C-level counterparts as a true catalyst for an organizational growth.

The rapid changes in the marketing space continue to make the differences between a good CMO and a great one more prominent than ever. A good CMO does the job of implementing an effective marketing strategy, and is able to drive successful results. However, a great CMO is a game changer for your business.

Marketing Executive Recruiters: What Sets a Great CMO Apart from a Good One?

Whether you’re a CEO in need of a CMO executive search, or a CMO trying to rise above the rest, there are certain capabilities that can clearly distinguish an excellent leader from a subpar one.

While there is no set formula for a perfect CMO, there are six key traits marketing executive recruiters believe superior CMOs must possess in order to rise above the rest:

On the Path to Become CEO

Just a few years ago, it wasn’t very common for CMOs to be considered to take on the role of the CEO in an organization. However, things have changed and with increased power, more CMOs are being hired and groomed to be the next CEO.

A remarkable CMO demonstrates the potential to become a great CEO, and should be on the right track to do so. If key players in an organization aren’t even considering the CMO to be the successor, it’s one of the earliest signs of a subpar leader.

Sharp Eyes for Cutting-Edge Talent

What’s a superb CMO without the right team to support them?

The scope of a CMO is greater than one individual can manage. Not only does an excellent CMO possess cutting-edge skills themselves, but they know how to identify top talent to support their strategy and vision.

Marketing executive recruiters recognize that identifying the best candidates to fill these new seats and carry out new initiatives is challenging, especially since even the best HR departments don’t have a depth of subject matter expertise in marketing.

Getting great talent on your team involves two key areas:

  1. The ability to set the best marketing org chart. As marketing changes, so has the people you need on the bus. If you have not created a few completely new roles in the last two years, this is a strong sign you have a good CMO.
  2. Finding top talent. This is more challenging than ever, especially in digital. The best people want to go work for a great leader. If the best candidates are not accepting your offers, then you likely only have a good CMO.

A top CMO will know if you need a VP of MarTech or a VP of Innovation to truly take your marketing ahead of your competitors. The type of roles and talent your organization needs depends on your industry, and it takes a highly perceptive and insightful CMO to understand that.

Lifelong Learner

The CMO is an ever-evolving job in an unpredictable space. However, one thing that’s certain in today’s marketing landscape is that the impact of emerging technology and digital developments is only going to become more powerful.

Superior CMOs acknowledge the shift to digital and that they must continue to evolve and learn amongst the changes. They aren’t just able to keep up with developments, but are able to successfully take advantage of them in a way that transforms their marketing strategy.

Marketing leaders must commit to constantly learning new skills and sharpening up old ones for new applications. Exceptional CMOs constantly fine-tune their skillsets over time – or else, they risk falling behind and dragging their employers back with them.

While it’s impossible to predict the exact future, it is entirely possible and necessary to be at the forefront of adopting emerging trends and skills. CMOs who are able to stay ahead of digital are the CMOs who last in an organization.

ROI Attribution

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As any successful CMO, one must be able to measure and understand data to effectively prove their strategy is working and creating a strong ROI.

Metrics are essential in understanding results and what actions need to be taken in the future to improve marketing efforts. Being able to demonstrate attribution is a clear sign of proficiency and makes all the difference in a good and exceptional CMO.

As marketing executive recruiters, we know there is an increasing demand for analytically-minded marketing talent that can show demonstrable results that the CMO can translate into ROI metrics. Great marketing leaders are able to identify competent talent to support those needs. By using analytical evidence to further empower their team to make decisions, CMOs also empower the rest of the organization to follow suit.

Pioneer of Growth

The power and expectations from CMOs are increasingly demanding. It has never been more important for CMOs to show the fruits of their labor and prove their value to the organization. They are accountable for growth and must know how to develop and implement sophisticated strategies to drive top line revenue.

From adopting cutting-edge tactics to company-wide digital transformation to the integration of critical new executive positions, the CMO is increasingly at the forefront of sweeping initiatives and is the driver of innovation.

Great CMOs understand how to lead the charge against organizational inertia and build momentum toward progress. These marketing leaders are forward-thinking innovators who think ahead (and quickly) to drive continuous growth.

Ability to Identify Gaps

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With so many moving parts in a marketing campaign or strategy, it’s easy to overlook key elements and have something slip through the cracks. One weakness in your marketing operations can leave a gap to be exploited by competitors or unexpected shortcomings.

Exceptional CMOs are consistently attentive toward maintaining the integrity of their strategy and are able to identify places where they fall short. This is particularly important for the type of talent they have on their team, the customer experience, data management, and identifying underserved market segments.

Being able to identify any cracks in your marketing efforts omits the risk of being outperformed by the competition and propels long-term growth.

Closing Words

An exceptional CMO not only masters the scope of a good marketing leader, but is a visionary for change in what needs to be happening in marketing to stay ahead. They understand the types of innovation needed from marketing, product and organizational perspectives, and are the driving force behind sustainable growth.

To be excellent, CMOs must find a way to juggle pressing demands with systems that support training, education, and professional growth both personally and in their team.

If you’re a CMO and you feel behind, it is never too late to learn something new.

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