It wasn't that long ago when most CMOs and senior marketers were considered the keepers of the brand. Today CMOs have a seat at the table. Their customer-centric insight drives the business-building strategy in front of the funnel, in the funnel, and all the way to the close and beyond.

In Forrester and Heidrick & Struggles most recent report, "The Evolved CMO in 2014," 40 percent of the CMOs surveyed aspire to the CEO position -- an almost inconceivable transition five years ago.

Whether you are just starting out in your marketing career, a mid-level marketing manager aspiring to become CMO, or a data scientist considering a move into marketing, you're probably looking to build a set of skills that will help you rise to the top.

Here are four in demand skills that will get you on your way.

1. Knowledge of Systems

CMOs are the new CTOs. Marketing budgets have exploded and CMOs are managing as many if not more APIs and integrations than the IT department. A CMO has to build and manage a tech stack that is cutting edge and squeeze the most out of the platforms they purchase. A tech savvy CMO must:

  • Have a clear roadmap of the desired marketing outcomes and find the best software to support these goals
  • Understand what marketing platforms are available, what they do, and if they complement the organizations existing internal systems
  • Quickly assess the value and ROI of the right platforms to orchestrate the growing complexity of their outreach efforts including lead scoring, digital advertising and campaign attribution
  • Have enough technical understanding of implementations and integrations to roll out new software purchases to the team within weeks rather than months
  • Enable a strong partnership with the CIO so that IT understands what marketing is trying to achieve

2. Manage and Motivate Technical Talent

CMOs looking to stay relevant will have to quickly transform the skills and profiles of their staff. The historic creative focus of marketing is being challenged by a need for spreadsheet-loving, coding-craving, technical-centric staff. With a significant shortage of people who can move fluidly between technical and marketing worlds, the CMO will need to hire, motivate and understand staff members with entirely different DNA than that of the past.

There are 103,502 technical marketing jobs posted on LinkedIn today. The CMOs that understand how to fill these roles with the best technical talent stand the best chance of thriving in our digital future.

3. Ability to Create Agile Marketing Campaigns

It wasn't that long ago that marketers spent months conceiving, designing and implementing marketing campaigns. Today's business environment affords no such luxury of time. Campaigns once rolled out over quarters are now rolled out over days or weeks.

Agile marketing borrows from the concept of agile software development. Tactics are built around the marketing strategy. Campaigns are rolled out, feedback is collected and analyzed in near real time and adjustments are made to optimize results.

Stanford professor and founder of IDEO David Kelley calls this “Fail faster, succeed sooner.” And that's exactly what the combination of agile marketing thinking and technology make possible. The CMO can not only refine a campaign to increase ROI but save money and reallocate budget to a new project. No assumptions, only results measured in near real time.

4. Deep Data Expertise

In a data-driven marketing organization, CMOs need to know how to augment internal information. Good insight starts with good data. While the largest companies have had the budgets and IT expertise to tackle data problems, the same has not been true in smaller companies.

With the democratization of data, that's changing. New data and technology services range from Big Data as a Service (BDaaS) to the integration of marketing technology tools into CRMs. One of the areas it's proving most effective is helping marketers to understand their anonymous, non-cookied visitors, serve their needs and make their initial visit rewarding. 

From the printable text, to radio, to telephone, to television, to computers, to mobile, to the internet -- each technology shift has redefined the skills needed in our marketing organizations. By embracing data and agility, while adding new staff skills and having the knowledge of platforms to tie it all together, today's modern marketers are poised to make an impact like never before.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  r2hox