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There are as many opinions on what marketing does, what it should say and how it should be measured as there are people in a company. That makes the role of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) the most subjective position within any company. But even brilliant CMOs don’t last forever. This means we have to work quickly, build great teams and establish clear metrics for success.

Your Team's Strengths are Your Strengths

As a CMO, your number one job is and should be recruiting. The success of your marketing team depends on your strengths as a leader. Great marketing teams take charge and innovate without needing constant management. They respond automatically to spelling errors, they summarize issues so you can make decisions, they correct layout issues, they engage with customers and research the industry -- all without being asked.

The marketing team needs to be united around the same vision. It’s your job as CMO to help develop that vision, and to communicate it to new team members. CMOs must hire for their own personal weaknesses and ensure they give adequate time for marketing team members to acquire new skills. I rely heavily on my team to be personally invested in their career growth. No passion, no marketing role. No passion for reading, no marketing career.

Give the Team the Right Tools

A communications degree was once the primary skill I sought. Today I look for comfort with multi-device computing, a passion for learning and an understanding of the online tools that make marketing happen. Marketing is primarily about collaboration, so tools such as Google Docs and the Atlassian tool suite are essential. Marketing candidates need fluency in these tools to work in distributed teams.

Marketing is about creativity. Everyone has ready access to the tools we use for creative work. My staff has hands-on experience with graphic design, layout, video production, marketing automation, customer relationship management and analytical tools. We never know when we will be needed to edit, refine or publish content for print, web or video -- but we are always ready. Friday afternoons are dedicated to skills development: Lynda.com gives us the training on every tool we need.

Marketing Means Being in Sales

Sales is not a job. It is a philosophy coupled with personality and documentation. Great people can sell terrible products, and vice versa. But today’s consumers and businesses are more informed than ever. They research your company before they buy.

One great blog post can lead to a phone call or email. The next engagement should be consistent with the personality established by the brand communications. Every person on the marketing team must know the entire sales process of the organization from the website to the final signatures on a contract.

You can’t change what you can’t measure. Marketing teams must have detailed analytics that go from the first touch to the last. CMOs need to use data and analytics to validate and refine their approaches to customer engagement. Even the interns in your marketing team should know exactly what they are doing and where their contributions will apply.

A Heartbeat of Communication

The notion of a marketing and sales pipeline is dead. Marketing demands a keen sense of urgency, coupled with a desire to make anyone who interacts with your organization joyful.

We listen before we market, we ask before we produce and when there is silence, we get creative. We focus each day on creating something inspirational, but we also measure how the things we create fit business needs.

Not all content is or should be directly related to the brand. Consistent communication acts as an invitation to customers to connect with us and our company. Everything we produce should call the reader to action, and every interaction should be a pleasure.

Marketing must lead this charge. Only marketing can change the perception and reflex of “What are you trying to sell me?” to “What else can you teach me?”

Measure Your Legacy

Great examples of innovative, data driven and exceptional marketing executives are out there. Mike Volpe, CMO of Hubspot, whom I respect greatly, has happy and motivated teams who create truly inspirational inbound marketing. He is active on social platforms, he writes blogs and is visible at many events.

CMOs create cultures. We don't have to attend every meeting and there's no such thing as a perfect team. But we can establish an atmosphere which inspires people to create, while maintaining a clear focus on the expected return of every initiative. And we can deliver metrics to the business that show which activities work and which need improvement.

My favorite quote from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory defines the creativity needed for today’s marketing professional: “We are the music makers, the dreamer of dreams.” Our challenge in marketing is to create, produce and measure the five golden tickets, knowing that just one will make a difference.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  frankieleon