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Balancing marketing and technology requires a special set of skills and traits. PHOTO: Shutterstock

With so much falling inside the digital realm these days, there has been, according to some, a convergence between the CIO and marketing roles. The roles of chief marketing technologist (CMT) or CTMO (Chief Technology Marketing Officer) has been on the rise and some are even calling it a requisite for big brands. In a Forbes article, Samantha Paxson, CMXO at CO-OP Financial services, labeled the role as "increasingly critical".  She also shared some thoughts on who would suit this role best, “The ideal CMT has a technical background but has transitioned to the business side of things, though it can work the other way around as well.” 

With technology playing an ever-increasing role in the lives of marketers, we decided to explore what traits would be best suited to this hybrid role of marketing technologist and asked industry experts to share their thoughts on the necessary skills to be successful. You may be a chief marketing technologist if...

You Understand the MarTech Stack 

Matt Garrepy, chief digital officer for Solodev, shared that most chief marketing technologists have a number of things in common. Most will have a holistic understanding of your company’s MarTech stack, from content marketing to PCC to social media presence. And that's MarTech, as in marketing technology, a landscape that according to Brinker sports more than 5,000 technology solutions.

According to Garrepy, an effective chief marketing technologist knows the possibilities of marketing are reflected in the innovations of technology and vice versa. CMTs leave nothing as a siloed, one-time solution when crafting an effective, future-proofed marketing strategy. 

"They simply can’t draw a line in the sand and say, 'this belongs to marketing, this to technology, and that is that.'" A true marketing technologist sees both marketing and technology — and the nuances throughout both industries — as inseparable.

You Think Ahead of the Tech Curve

Marketing technologists often recommend the newest niche applications or look for ways to update and integrate marketing and technology, Garrepy shares, “They also want to bring their entire team on board to see the value of an innovation. They understand how each new change can benefit the consumer, and they want to showcase innovative prowess in a way that’s significant to the buyer.”

You Have a Passion for Tech

Steve Pritchard, search content manager at giffgaff, said a chief marketing technologist’s passion for tech will will encourage them to actively search for and identify new technological opportunities as they are created. “Marketing technologists act as the bridge between traditional marketing/business and the latest technology, so possessing traditional marketing skills is also a big bonus," says Pritchard.

You Take Risks 

Don't be afraid to fail. CMTs are typically comfortable with taking risks and failing forward and fast. “They have to be adapters rather than just adopters. They deal with unpredictability whenever a new iteration of critical technology debuts, and they must adapt to survive and thrive," says Garrepy. He goes on to site Salesforce’s transition from its standard platform to Lightning, presenting a number of integration challenges.  “The savvy chief marketing technologist cultivates a quickly evolving workplace where rapid testing and even faster learning is an expectation and, as with the Salesforce transition, they normally set the pace for rapid, DIY-style training,” he says. Organizations had to be nimble and flexible and patch functions from application to application to respond to the new realities of the system.

You Accept Constructive Criticism

Is an organization’s marketing technology creating value for everyone in their organization? Can it be improved, or should it be shuttered? “These critiques won’t always align, so it’s up to the CMT to find the overlap and determine the best points for growth in a company’s overall strategy. They then consolidate those learning points and aggregate metrics into one package for the sales team,” Garrepy said. 

You’re Obsessed With Pushing Boundaries

Manny Medina, CEO of Seattle-based Outreach, said you know you’re a CMT when you become obsessed with pushing the boundaries of digital marketing and you’re always thinking one step ahead. “You often have ideas for new solutions or capabilities your vendors haven’t thought of yet. You’re on the customer advisory board for many of them and maybe one of them has even code-named a new feature after you," says Medina.

You’re Always Experimenting

Marketing technologists are not content to simply rely on tried and true methods because, according to Medina. With every new advancement in technology come dozens of new potential opportunities. “You know how to design low-cost, low-risk tests that quickly show you which bets to make. In cases where you can’t find a technology to support a new idea or business need you build it yourself," says Medina. Marketing technologists, he added, have a deep understanding of technology and they are typically quite comfortable with it. They understand the possibilities of technology and this, Medina said, allows them to not only imagine new and better solutions to marketing challenges, but also to make those solutions a reality.

You Deeply Understand Your Market

Marketing technologists must also have a deep understanding of the market, product, buyers and competitors. They are master strategists who instrument the entire buying journey to identify issues that put the business at risk, and opportunities that could accelerate success. “Day-to-day, they run digital marketing programs, ensure a seamless journey to every buyer and continuously analyze data about customers, prospects and sales cycles that yield important insights for the business," says Medina.

CMTs will identify a bottleneck in the sales funnel that drives the sales team to change their playbook, key milestones or usage patterns that customer success teams can use to model churn risk, or patterns in customer and prospect data that uncover new opportunities in an adjacent industry or segment.

You Recognize Technology’s Effectiveness for your Org

A chief marketing technologist will be able to analyze and assess just how well the providers’ technical abilities meet the marketing requirements of the company, Pritchard said. They analyze how the systems are integrated and monitor their overall performance. “They will need a keen analytical mind for this. Analyzing data should be something any good CMT will thrive on,” Pritchard says.

You Adapt, Learn Quickly

James Pollard, a marketing consultant who works with financial services professionals at TheAdvisorCoach.com, says true marketing technologists must continuously learn and be able to change gears on a near-monthly basis, as improvements are made, new technologies come out and societal tastes shift. “Being a chief marketing technologist isn't for someone who takes three months to learn how to use a particular software... If you cannot adapt, your ability to perform in the marketplace quickly becomes stale,” Pollard says.