A man and a woman at a mock job interview, sitting at a table.
PHOTO: Amtec Photos

Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019 found marketers spend more on technology (martech, 29%) than labor 24%. Regardless of how much you spend on labor, what you look for in a marketer matters, naturally. And a large part of this task could fall on the CMO in many organizations.

"Most CMOs will look for strong technical skills and someone who is a good culture fit for the organization,” said Ian Dowd, CMO at High Speed Training. “Some of the soft skills and traits have always been in demand, such as creativity, a positive attitude, communication skills and leadership potential.”

What do other CMOs expect from marketers?

Engulfed in Tech and Focused on Consumers

Jennifer Shambroom, CMO at Deputy, said marketers need to engulf themselves in the world of technology. “It is crucial,” she said, “that a marketer has the skill to boil down very technical and complicated ideas, concepts and products and then find a way to transform the message so that it is relatable and intrigues their target audience.”

Focus on the consumer should never be turned off, she said. “Regardless of the product, marketers need to have the skillset to create the best consumer experience for their customers," Shambroom said. “To be a successful marketer, you have to be passionate about and understand the product of which you are marketing and maintain a shared belief in the product and the mission of the company." 

Related Article: 11 Necessary Skills and Traits for the Modern Chief Marketing Officer

Growth Drivers

Marketers need to be able to add growth to the business so that their role can grow as well, according to Museum Hack CMO Michael Alexis. “In many ways we are still in scrappy, startup mode,” Alexis said. “When we hire marketers, it is in the hopes that they can scale our business up in a way that allows us to invest more in them as team members (i.e. more hours, higher pay rate, more benefits).”

Specifically, Alexis is looking for marketers who have the ability to:

  • Optimize SEO.
  • Run AB tests.
  • Set up microsites.
  • Write email funnels.
  • Leverage skills such as graphic design, video editing, HTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress.

Accountability and a Desire to Collaborate

Merijn te Booij, CMO of Genesys, expects accountability, an understanding of contribution to the business and the desire to collaborate. “If they do not understand how marketing as a whole plays within an enterprise, especially in B2B, it's a long road to become effective,” he said. “I also require a certain level of generalization within marketing, mainly to defragment marketing as a function."

Related Article: 4 Skills to Look For When Hiring a Marketing Manager

Diversity and Interesting Life Paths

Te Booij said first and foremost, he looks for diversity across a wide range of attributes: age, sex, race, culture, demographics, education etc. “I strongly believe the more diversity my team has, the better it will adapt and function. I think it breaks an organization to hire too many people that are the ‘same.’ I like hiring people with an interesting path through life. It often creates a unique context making them better marketers.”

Fail Fast and Learn from Mistakes Mentality

Michael Stahl, executive vice president and CMO of HealthMarkets, said he wants a team of marketers who are collaborative, willing to take chances and committed to learning from mistakes. “I also want people on my team who want to learn from others and grow and who want to see their peers learn and grow,” Stahl said. “I think there are certainly more digitally-focused skillsets required now and some may have changed slightly throughout the past five years as programs have changed and/or new marketing channels have been introduced.”

Related Article: 10 Skills and Traits of Great Marketing Technologists

Gritty Independent Analytical Thinkers

Adam Bridegan, CMO of Rhone, said he wants his marketers to have grit, be independent thinkers who will find a way to make things happen, challenge current marketing paradigms and bring innovative ideas to the table. "We look for analytical thinkers who will apply a data-driven approach to making decisions, but also look for team players and someone who will inspire others around them to be better," Bridegan said. "At Rhone, we view our employees as extensions of our brand, so it is key that anyone we hire embodies our ethos and treats others with compassion. The most important traits are kindness, an analytical mind, an understanding of human psychology, and the ability and desire to learn."