Confession: I would not have been the best CMO 15 years ago.
But in the years since, the skills a marketer needs have changed wildly. In that time, marketing has gone through a number of fundamental changes: digital transformation, data-driven and ROI expectations, to name a few.
With digital transformation, everything today can and should be measured, which aligns more closely with my skillset.
I started my career as a developer, and my finance undergrad and MBA are proof I am more comfortable with quantitative than qualitative. Today, marketing success needs to be measured and communicated — and today’s CMO has to give their team tech skills and tools to fulfill this goal.
3 Tips to Create a Stellar Marketing Team
The following three recommendations can help you map your team’s future:
1. Take Risks
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This is the best advice I can give a CMO.
You must always be innovating and on the cutting edge. If you constantly follow the success of others in the marketplace, you are never going to outpace your competition. Here’s a tactical example: if you only adopt SEO strategies that your competition is successfully achieving on, you will never surpass them in search results.
This is also true from a personal perspective. The depth of this challenge to get outside of your comfort zone came into full focus for me when I did something drastic: I quit my job.
I really loved what I had been doing, but knew it was time to stretch and try something new, so I took a risk and quit without having the next thing lined up. It scared me, but I knew it was time for me to challenge myself. So I joined another company’s journey, with an entirely different product and team.
I’m already learning from my new team. Every day, I come to work and find myself thinking, “Wow, this is new. Let’s dive in and figure it out.” But doing “something that scares you” doesn’t have to be as bold as quitting your job. This challenge rings true in the day-to-day work of the most skilled marketers. They know that the marketing industry is changing quickly and they need to keep up with it to survive.
Don’t stand still. Take risks. Keep innovating.
2. Embrace Tech and Digital
A key to success is leveraging the latest technology to harness digital transformation.
We’ve all read the stats: Gartner says the CMO is going to have a larger IT budget than the CIO. I’ve seen this in reality. At a recent event, one CMO told me she would only accept a job offer from a hot tech startup if she was given a team of at least 10 technical resources to implement her systems.
Technology is where marketing is won or lost, and is the competitive advantage of every successful CMO. Across a marketing team, it is critical to have strong tech skills in your creative suite, marketing automation, social insights, public relations and more.
Want a more personalized experience for your customers? Use tech like DemandBase to identify prospects and serve up personalized web pages. Want your valuable leads “worked harder” by sales? Use lead scoring technology and dialer systems to put the most valuable leads at the top of inside sales queue.
Try to point out one of today’s greatest marketing teams that doesn’t also have a great tech story — it’s nearly impossible. Teams that can’t claim this differentiator are in trouble.
3. Train Your Team
A CMO can’t expect a team to be technically advanced without giving them the skills they need to succeed.
While many teams are trying to use the new tools available to them, they aren’t maximizing their success because they don’t have the right skills. To overcome this lapse in technical know-how, invest in your team.
Technology skills have a two-year (at best) shelf life. Providing your team with the skills they need to remain competitive is one of the most successful employee retention strategies I’ve ever seen, and ensures you are set up for achievements in the future. In my past three leadership roles, I have set aside budget for team training — both at the group and the individual level. I suggest talking with team members and setting a unique strategy with each individual on how they plan to achieve their growth goals. This investment in training your team will pay back in spades.
Today’s CMO needs to be bold, take risks and constantly innovate. Use technology to beat the competition and invest in your best asset — your people — by providing them with the training and the knowledge they need to succeed.
Heather Zynczak is the Chief Marketing Officer at Pluralsight, a technology learning platform. Heather joined Pluralsight in August of 2016 because she was excited by the mission, culture and enormous opportunity to solve strategic business problems for companies of all sizes.