What Are the Best Qualities for a CMO to Have?

At some point in your company’s development, you’re going to need to hire a chief marketing officer (CMO). As the title suggests, this is going to be your point person on all things related to marketing and advertising, so it’s vital that you get someone in place who knows what they’re doing, and exhibits all the “best” qualities for a marketing leader—but what are those qualities, and how should you make your hiring decision?

Responsibilities of CMOs

First, you’ll need to understand some of the core responsibilities of CMOs:

  • Create and define marketing objectives. They’ll be defining what counts as “success” to your marketing department.
  • Research and follow marketing trends. They’ll be able to discover and learn about the latest trends, so you can apply them to your own efforts.
  • Coordinate and oversee new campaigns. Though they won’t be involved in day-to-day management, they’ll help coordinate and provide oversight for new marketing and ad campaigns.
  • Liaise with other departments to align customer goals. CMOs will work with other departments to ensure the brand is represented appropriately in all forms of customer communication.
  • Report on results and make changes. They’ll explain the results of their campaigns, and recommend strategic changes to see better results in the future.

Best Qualities for CMOs

If you want someone who can execute those responsibilities flawlessly, you’ll need a candidate with the following qualities:

  • An understanding of resource management. You might consider hiring a CMO based on their familiarity and skill with technology; after all, many modern marketing and advertising campaigns are rooted in digital mediums. However, according to Clarkston Consulting, tech skills aren’t as important for a CMO as you think. A global understanding of how tech is used in the marketing world is valuable, since they’ll be directing and creating new campaigns, but it’s better for your CMO to have an overall understanding of resource management (and which resources are best used for a campaign).
  • Innovativeness. According to Paladin Staff, a CMO should also have an “entrepreneurial spirit.” By this, they mean a CMO should have a passion for what they do, and a creative energy that allows them to innovate. Some of the most successful marketing and branding campaigns of past decades have been the ones that break the rules, push the limits, or otherwise stand in opposition to what their contemporaries are doing. An innovative CMO will be able to achieve those standings. Innovation is also necessary to solve especially complex problems.
  • Knowledge of customer psychology. Success in marketing depends almost exclusively on understanding who your customers are and what they need. You need to know their likes and dislikes, their desires, and where they spend the most time. Without an intimate understanding of human psychology—and the specific demographics that constitute your target audience—no CMO will be able to recommend effective strategies.
  • Years of experience. Though not absolutely required, it helps to have both education and several years of experience in the marketing industry. Even if your business is small or relatively new, the title of CMO is usually one reserved for the top players in the industry. No matter what, your candidate should have many years of experience in business and management; ideally that experience will come from marketing at a high level.
  • A scientific mindset. According to Ad Age, one of the most important qualities of a CMO is their scientific mindset and approach to problems. Though some could argue that marketing and advertising are arts, as much as they are scientific, the only way to objectively understand the effectiveness of a campaign is to look at the numbers. A scientific-minded CMO will be willing to attempt new experiments, and will refuse to allow confirmation bias to reinforce their assumptions. They’ll scrutinize the details, and make more informed decisions overall.

Are you ready to hire your CMO? It’s a big decision, and one that you shouldn’t rush. If you have a marketing team already in place, consider hiring someone you’ve already had experience working with. Otherwise, make sure you interview plenty of candidates so you can find the best person for the job.