3 Crucial Traits of the Fearless Marketer

Engagement Marketing


If you’re a marketer with aspirations to one day become a CMO, what or where do you look for inspiration and motivation to continue on your growth path to leadership? For me, the best source of inspiration is getting to know top marketing performers that have blazed a trail that challenged the status quo of our field. I’m not alone. Here at Marketo, we are always looking for the fearless marketers to promote as the shining stars of our craft. We believe that the next gen CMO is one that pushes the envelope, tries new and exciting ways to engage their customers, isn’t afraid to take risks, and charges passionately forward to drive business impact.

So, it begs the question: are YOU on the path to becoming a next-gen CMO? And what does it take to become one?

While there are MANY qualities reflected in fearless marketers, here are a few key traits that embody our most fearless customers. They are the ones teaching myself and others in the industry how to be better marketers and business leaders. 

The Fearless Marketer Takes Sales Partnership to New Heights

A fearless marketer aspires to bring true alignment across people and technology to target the right audiences and to meet company revenue goals. To do this, they know it’s not just about the right technology—it’s also about people. They are dedicated to breaking down silos across departments, teams, and technology regardless of how impossible it may seem to others.

People Silos

The next-gen CMO does not see sales as the enemy but as a critical teammate. They understand that sales’ success means their success, so they dedicate time and resources to build bridges across the aisle. Next-gen CMOs make sales and marketing alignment a pillar of their organization, and are committed to the following:

  • Listening to sales feedback to build informed, revenue-focused marketing programs
  • Continually developing ideal customer profiles to increase volume and velocity of leads
  • Celebrating victories big and small with sales, as a part of a single revenue organization

One sure-fire way to become a valued partner to sales is to make their jobs easier. Many trailblazing marketers leverage sales enablement platforms to give reps a comprehensive view of their accounts and contacts—a one-stop shop for all activities pertaining to a contact. When a marketer proves to be a true partner to sales, they become an invaluable member of the revenue tribe.

Technology Silos

Sales and marketing must align on the technology they want to use to attract, qualify, and transfer leads to sales. Sometimes, marketing and sales use CRM and marketing automation solutions that don’t easily or completely integrate, so there is hardly any opportunity to align. The next-gen CMO knows that this lack of integration only leads to further distrust between both teams and ultimately, lost revenue opportunities. When you see a marketer investing in technology that drives efficiency and trust between sales and marketing, and you’ve got yourself a next-gen CMO!

The Fearless Marketer Delivers Personalized Experiences Across Channels

The next-gen CMO puts the customer at the center of their marketing team’s strategy. A marketing channel is only as effective as its ability to be perfectly personalized to a single customer—not just on one respective channel owned by a team of marketers—but ALL the channels. This requires a level of commitment from the next-gen CMO to rally her team around the customer experience, not the channel experience.

That strategy must also include digital advertising. In many marketing organizations, channels like ads have been bucketed into totally separate categories, which has caused them both to exist on separate tools, teams, and analytics tracks.

Let me paint a picture of what channel over customer looks like. Let’s say your social media strategy is ON POINT. It gives customers exactly what they want when they want it, but then when they hit your website to learn more and are treated like a perfect stranger, you’ve put the channel ahead of the customer.

To personalize at scale, the next-gen CMO pulls it all to a single view of the customer that listen to and learns from customers behaviors and preferences across channels—and embraces new technologies like artificial intelligence within an engagement platform so every action taken maximizes individual engagement.

The Fearless Marketer Continually Learns What Works (and Doesn’t) to Prove Marketing ROI 

Understanding ROI ranked as the number one activity that marketers agreed will have the biggest impact on their business in 2018. Likewise, the Gartner CMO Spend Survey for 2017-18 stated that “Marketing analytics jumps ahead to the No. 1 area of spending compared with last year, when it came in at No. 4 behind the website, digital commerce and digital advertising [the year before]. ”

The next-gen CMO knows this and takes every measure to address this growing challenge for marketers today. It typically starts with the marketer deciding to measure and report their performance based on revenue goals rather than vanity metrics.

I want to be clear here, sometimes clicks and downloads reveal operational insights for your marketing team—like what topics are most interesting to customers so we can create and share more of what works and less of what doesn’t. But the hard truth is this: your C-Suite DOES NOT CARE about clicks and downloads, and the next gen CMO knows it and adapts their reporting accordingly. The next-gen CMO cares about dollars spent and dollars earned for the company, and how marketing contributes to this process. They do not shy away from this challenge—they stare it straight in the eye.

But they also know reporting on these revenue metrics is only possible if they can effectively access the right data when they need it on a moment’s notice. They know they can’t wait days or weeks for performance reports from outside their department. They take reporting into their own hands, and leverage dashboards purpose-built for marketing, to share visual reports in an instant with executives.

When fearless marketers can truly drive and report activity that directly impacts revenue, they find themselves sitting squarely at the leadership table. They have now positioned their team as a revenue machine, not a cost center.

What qualities do fearless marketers embody in your mind? Who do you know who is poised to be a next-gen CMO? Tell me about them in the comments.