Sales & Marketing

The skills today’s marketing leaders need to reach the top

6 min read

25 October 2019

How can the brightest and best marketing leaders reach the top of their game? For starters, they have to get creative with their skillsets.

Juggling both strategic and operational priorities is difficult in any profession, but in recent years, it’s been a particular challenge for marketing.

The diversification of customer segments, products and competitive threats means the modern CMO is continually engaged in all elements of marketing, all while under almost constant pressure to create more value with less resource.

The B2C world

To add an extra layer of complexity, in the B2C world it’s harder than ever to reach consumers’ and grab their attention.

From triple screening to Instagram shoppable, marketers are continually battling to understand shifts in behaviour to ensure they can achieve marketing success.

Should marketers be prioritising data and analytics, or should they go back to basics and focus more on creativity and their experience?

Take the amount of time spent on social media. Data from Domo’s ‘Data Never Sleeps’ report confirms that every minute 55,140 photos are shared on Instagram, over 4,500,000 videos are viewed on YouTube, and 1,000,000 users login to Facebook.

That’s every, single, minute, and the result is a complex customer environment and a new era of data where marketers can count every click, share and view as a way to gauge effectiveness.

What’s the value of ‘more data’?

But does more data necessarily mean more insight? Despite having access to terabytes of data, for many marketers, the sheer volume can create new levels of pressure.

Our latest research highlights that nearly half of CMOs feel the number of data channels and sources available make it increasingly difficult to plan for the long term.

So if we refine the question further, should marketers be prioritising data and analytics, or should they go back to basics and focus more on creativity and their experience?

The balance between data and creativity

Marketing has always been a creative industry, don’t forget that.

Marketing has historically been built around creativity, where imagination, emotion and gut instinct all come into play. These unique human functions are vital to create any compelling brand narrative, emotional appeal or effective customer communications. But unlike data points, creativity is notoriously difficult to measure and can represent vague proxies for success.

Do you know how useful data is?

Data on the other hand now plays a more pivotal role, with leaders recognising the value it can add to their organisation. Our research shows that if they had to choose just one, 64% of senior marketers in large enterprise organizations believe that data and analytics skills alone are most important in the modern marketing department.

The purpose of clear data…

Having access to clear data from across the business means marketing departments are able to get a deeper rational understanding of the customer’s entire journey, across multiple touchpoints to improve the overall experience and conversions.

Data and creativity need not be mutually exclusive. For today’s marketing leaders to reach the top, a balanced central-brained strategy is needed, and it’s an opportunity for CMOs to create this balance.

Thanks to data and the wealth of analytics it’s no longer just about driving awareness and relying on sparse campaign reporting.

Real-time data also gives marketers the ability to make key decisions faster and fosters greater transparency for the C-suite and stakeholders, so that the whole company can construct more informed strategies and long-term plans.

The grey matter of marketing

Data or creativity? Which side should win out in marketing?

In reality, the debate over which should dominate marketing – left-brained, rational data or right-brained, emotive creativity – is a fallacy.

Strike a balance

Data and creativity need not be mutually exclusive. For today’s marketing leaders to reach the top, a balanced central-brained strategy is needed, and it’s an opportunity for CMOs to create this balance.

This change is already happening, nearly 50% of senior marketing leaders believe a balance of both data and creative skills are important. So how does this come to fruition? Through the intelligent use of data at the heart, shifting the narrative of marketing from just marketing, to the whole business.

Connecting people data and systems

The key to great marketing? A combination of people and data systems.

By unifying the business through better connection of people, data and systems, organisations encourage greater collaboration to improve decision making and drive strategic vision across teams.

It also means investing in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to tackle operational execution.

Get creative…

Finding creative ways to make technology work harder, opening up valuable resource to give space to focus on the critical and creative aims of the business.

It’s a logical approach to help leaders juggle both strategic and operational demands, and help to deliver commercial growth, provide a first-class customer experience and demonstrate value to the wider business. Embrace the grey matter, because it’s no grey area.