Digital marketers are in demand. From small companies to large, CEOs are now aware of the impact digital marketing professionals can make to their organisations – and their bottom line. However, it’s a sobering fact to realise that every year only 4% of marketers have made it to the CEO role since 1975.
Today I take a look at what we can do to improve this statistic because I know collectively with the right training, education and coaching we can increase to over 10% in the coming years.
Digital marketers, used to interpreting data to ascertain the success of campaigns, are well placed to get to grips with the balance sheet that goes with a P&L organisation.
For example one of our clients who recently became one of the first female CEO in her industry, came from an analytical marketing background, where she used data to create one of the industries most successful CRM rewards programs. She credits this as one of the key reasons for making all the way to CEO, because she really understood the numbers in terms of what they delivered to the company’s bottom line.
In fact, finance professionals and marketing professionals often have the same critical thinking capacity. While finance professionals may not be your first audience for the creative aspect, they’re definitely in your corner when it comes to analytical skills.
Financial awareness and knowledge is a critical tool for marketers who want to rise to the very top of business. More than 40% of CEOs come from a finance background.
I encourage you to start thinking of yourself as a commercial digital marketer. Once you work with that frame of reference, you’ll start to pick up on the opportunities that come your way to add business financial literacy skills to your skillset.
Silo mentality is still too prevalent in most organisations. Marketing sits here, sales sits there and customers service sits somewhere else.
Marketers are uniquely placed to become the bridge across the wider organisation and eradicate silos and remove friction from the lives of your customers. Placing your customers first is a winning strategy for business success, and marketers who do this prove themselves as visionaries and robust drivers of the business. (Be aware though that many businesses claim to place customers first but reality doesn’t match up to the statement. Take a look at Zappos to understand what a “customer first” strategy really looks like.)
Currently, we’re hearing a lot about CX, UX and UI. I advise you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in these disciplines and to remember that human-centric design practises will always win the day.
Customers are winning back control of their confidential information. Not only has GDPR radically overhauled data protection, but it’s becoming clear that earning the trust of your customers by being clear about how their data will be used is a smart strategy. Organisations that act with integrity will win more business.
Understanding the nature of compliance, and how to be compliant with compliance, is a non-negotiable.
It’s also critical to develop the data analysis skills you need to stay abreast of your own discipline. Currently, I’m seeing massive gaps for data analysts in the following areas:
• Real-time marketing
• Marketing insights
Marketing automation is also a key growth driver of the future, both for organisations and your career. The only way to scale, no matter the size of your team, is to understand how you can use marketing automation software to convert your potential customers into customers. The likes of HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce et al are not one-size-fits-all solutions, and you’ll still need to drive the strategy behind how you use these tools to drive your organisation forward.
The future is here. Developments are happening so quickly that speaking about the future is a bit obsolete!
Voice search, of course, is the big topic that everyone is speaking about. What exactly does the rise in voice search mean for brands? I don’t know the definitive answer to that but I do know that my kids use voice search more than they talk to me some days! They are 5,7 and 10. Can you imagine what their user experience expectations will be like in another 5 years?
Will brands still be the prime consideration for people when they make a purchasing decision? Are they now? Look at the Amazon Batteries example. In America, 31% of batteries sold online are now Amazon own brand batteries, not the traditional ones we’d expect to see in this space.
Don’t throw out the existing channels just yet, but understand how to interrogate them to get the best for your campaigns. Even print still has a role.
Getting back to voice search, my research shows that history is repeating itself with how brands are approaching this new frontier.
For example some well-know FMCG brands are sending customers directly to their voice search app. This is the wrong approach. From an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning point of view, the brands that teach their “robots” to understand what their customers want, rather than we telling them what they want, will win.
The most common stories appearing in the media at the moment about AI revolve around doom and gloom stories. The machines are coming to take our jobs! The robots have learnt to talk to each other!
Of course, it’s imperative to be aware of the consequences of any new technology. But, not enough attention is being paid to the positive attributes AI bring with it.
Just imagine if AI can help us move away from thinking about what to have for tea tonight, and free up time in our life to think about “higher-order stuff”, what value it will add to our lives.
One thing’s for sure, if AI removes the poor user experience or friction from my life, I’m all in! Imagine being invited to a black-tie ball at short notice, and the AI platform you trust knows you so well, it already has a new dress or tux waiting at home for you.
Marketers who dig deeper into the AI conversation, move past the superficiality of the current stereotype that defines it, and understand how to use it to impact positively will fast-track their own career trajectory.
As you build your career path to CEO/CMO level, learn from the most advanced digital markets. Take the lessons from the USA, UK and Scandinavia and see what you can implement in your organisation wherever you are.
Keep your current line manager informed of the training you’d like. Make a business case to show how the training will help you perform better in your current role and add value to the overall team and organisation. This is a tactic that you can use from your very first entry-level role right through to middle and senior positions. Even when you’re CEO or CMO, you’ll still be learning! I always highlight the value of coaching in our professional lives
Sportspeople have known how critical their coaches are to their success. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon, and still not adopted by the mainstream, for coaching to be part and parcel of the professional world.
Yet you’ll benefit endlessly if you invest in a coach to help you achieve in your professional life.
Personalised advice that really takes into account who you are, where you are and where you want to be, will open you up to myriad opportunities. There is lots of brilliant advice to be found in books and online, but only a coach can help you plot a path that is wholly created for you. When you follow a plan that feel authentic to you, the sky’s the limit.
Working with a coach also adds a level of accountability into your plans and the way you proceed. Not only does this help you stay on track, it’s also a good discipline to instil in yourself for when you are in the top seat – and responsible for many people.
My last words are ones of caution and encouragement.
When we speak of career paths, we imagine linear paths. In truth, the path looks more like a wave or a scribble!
So, I’d ask you to build resilience. Figuring out a plan is a smart way to proceed with your career, but it’s a fair bet to understand that there could be obstacles and challenges that derail the expected results. Resilience is a key trait to have if your eye is on the CEO/CMO role.
This is another way in which a coach will add immense value you in your life. Having a sounding board to listen to you when things aren’t going according to plan is worth its weight in gold.
Finally, coaches, with their unique perspective of being an observer as well as closely aligned with you, are also able to spot opportunities that arise from challenges (and there always are). It’s up to you go after them – and that’s when the magic happens.
Author: Morgan Cummins
Morgan is an experienced marketer who has been lucky enough to work in markets like Australia, the Middle East and Ireland. After an 18-year (award winning) career in advertising, He transferred his skills and knowledge of Industry into Recruitment. Morgan goes that extra mile by helping people identify the peak performance in their career and apply that to their next role.