I didn’t start my career in marketing; instead I grew up in sales and general management. In fact, I went from never having been in marketing to being named Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a $49 billion wealth management division when I was in my late 30s. I still look back and think about how crazy that was!

Why on earth would a CEO bring in a business person to head up his marketing machine, and how could I be successful? After some digging, I learned that the person I was replacing just wasn’t adding value in the C-Suite. He couldn’t connect marketing to other aspects of the business and had made some big bets that failed to pay off.

There was a solid team of core marketers (thank goodness!), but what leadership wanted was a strategic player to help them sharpen the strategy, innovate and compete in a crowded industry. They had seen me in action as a business leader, and believed I could do the job. I asked a lot of questions to finally figure out why they had such confidence in me before I was willing to accept the position.

It turns out there were five characteristics that, in their eyes, made me CMO material. None of them were technical skills; they were leadership behaviors and principles. Thinking of my role along these lines helped me contribute quickly, despite my lack of formal training. Since then, I’ve shared the “CMO 5” with every up-and-coming marketer who has asked me for career advice:

  1. Customer Advocate: Marketing has a responsibility to love the customer. You know how hard it is to win and keep customers, and you do everything in your power to understand them better. Speak up on their behalf.
  2. Brand Protector: Protecting the brand isn’t just about advertising and PR, it should be considered in every business decision. When something doesn’t feel right, raise holy hell. The brand is your baby.
  3. Trend Spotter: You are paid to notice everything and figure out what’s around the corner. Gobble up research, know the competition and find analogies from other industries that could impact yours. You are a student and a sleuth.
  4. Number Cruncher: While the CFO measures outcomes, you are measuring above the prospect funnel and at each stage along the way. You need to cipher to tweak strategies, discover opportunities and maximize ROI. Embrace your inner geek.
  5. Storyteller: Communication prowess is critical to a great marketer. Knowing how to synthesize ideas, position things, create context and communicate clearly is a superpower. Be a storyteller.

Marketing is a fascinating discipline and there’s a lot to learn. If you are trying to get noticed or make sure marketing has a seat at the table in your company, think about the CMO 5. These reminders will help you improve your brand and add tremendous value to your organization.