The 5 Most Important Characteristics of a CMO in 2021

The following list will help you get a better understanding of what to look for when hiring a CMO in a digital world in 2021 and beyond. It specifically covers 5 very important must-have characteristics of a successful CMO in today’s rapidly changing digital world.

CMO Insider – The 5 Most Important Characteristics of a CMO in 2021
CMO Insider – The 5 Most Important Characteristics of a CMO in 2021

A strong chief marketing officer (CMO) goes a long way toward having a successful business. Your CMO plays a huge role in the structure, direction, and vision of a company. Marketing trends are constantly in motion, especially with the drastic changes that come with a global pandemic that has now lasted over a year and will certainly have lasting effects for years to come. Having a great CMO in place is a crucial part of running a successful business. 

So what should the ideal CMO look like? That’s obviously a complex question whose answer depends on many factors, depending on the type of business you are running. But there are some key characteristics that are important regardless of the makeup of your company or any other factors. Here are the five most important characteristics of a CMO in 2021:

1. Strong Vision and Adaptability 

A CMO must have a clear vision for where the company is headed. Specifically, they need to constantly have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and understand both market trends(what your customers want) and marketing trends(how they go about finding what they want). 

Being up to speed on all the marketing trends, specifically digital marketing trends, is a requirement for any CMO. In the blink of an eye, the pandemic forced many businesses to flip a switch and become completely digital. A strong CMO needs the vision and foresight to understand and adapt to these quick changes. It doesn’t necessarily take a once-in-a-millennium pandemic to cause such a shift. Just look at how Netflix was able to overtake Blockbuster by having a clear vision of the future and fully embracing changes in technology customer behavior. As Netflix became a multi-billion dollar industry, Blockbuster refused to adapt and has all but disappeared. (To add insult to injury, a documentary titled “The Last Blockbuster” is now streaming on Netflix). 

2. Multi-Channel Understanding

While it’s good to have specialists who focus on specific marketing channels within your marketing team, a CMO should have more of a broad understanding of all the marketing channels you use. From various offline channels, such as TV and radio ads, event hosting, and conferences, to online channels like email marketing, PPC, SEO, and social media, a CMO needs to have a strong enough understanding in each of these areas to know when and how to focus the team’s marketing efforts. 
As mentioned above, everything has been trending toward a focus on digital marketing. Even your seasoned, old-fashioned marketer who can sell a pen to Leonardo DiCaprio needs to start reading up on digital trends, because they won’t survive without it. It’s crucial that a CMO has a thorough understanding of digital marketing, especially SEO and PPC.

3. Good People Skills

We often think of C-level executives as distant and unapproachable, but it’s very important that your CMO have strong people skills. At the end of the day, marketing is about building a strong brand that connects with people, especially as consumers are becoming more aware of the values that drive the companies they buy from. A CMO needs to be able to convey those values to their audience, as well as to their employees. Being able to lead and collaborate with team members and other leaders within the company is crucial to building a strong brand. A CMO that is distant from their team and their audience will have little success, regardless of how knowledgeable and well-versed they are in marketing. 

4. Tech & Digital Savvy

Your CMO doesn’t have to be an expert coder, but it also wouldn’t hurt if they were.  At the very least, they should have enough of a technical background to work closely with the technical team. In the same way, they have to be savvy when it comes to digital marketing. 

By definition, digital marketing, running a successful website with many different digital marketing campaigns, requires strong technological skills. A high-functioning website is dependent on multiple technical tools and marketing platforms that require strong technological backgrounds. Having coders and developers on your marketing team is becoming increasingly important, so having a CMO who can work with them is crucial. 

The same is true when it comes to your digital background. In addition to those coders and developers, marketing teams will be filled with digital marketers who specialize in SEO, PPC, email marketing, and many other areas. Having a CMO with a strong digital background and can work with a team like that is a necessity.

5. Growth Focused

A big part of being CMO is being able to engineer growth. Whether that’s growing your audience, increasing your overall market share, or adding positions to your marketing team to accommodate new trends and marketing channels, a CMO needs to be aware of any opportunity available to expand. 

A successful CMO will not only be able to find these opportunities, but will have the ability and vision to take advantage of them. In particular, digital marketing continues to be an increasingly essential opportunity for marketing growth. Finding a CMO who is able to understand and work with digital marketing trends and focus on growth through SEO, PPC, social media marketing and other digital channels is more important than ever.

We Help CMOs Formulate and Execute Enterprise SEO & Digital Marketing Strategy

As you continue to grow your business, it’s crucial to get your digital marketing strategy right. Whether you work in e-commerce or lead generation, B2B or B2C, we can design and implement a digital marketing strategy that works for you. We are an experienced team of marketers with a history of delivering results. Get in touch with us for a comprehensive digital marketing audit and strategy that’s specific to your business.

As you continue building toward e-commerce success, it’s critical that you get your digital marketing strategy right. We are an experienced team of marketers with a history of delivering results with online retailers. Get in touch with us for a comprehensive e-commerce audit and strategy that’s specific to your business. 

Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.