effective marketing leader traits

3 traits of an effective marketing leader

Stijn Hendrikse
Oct 24, 2020

Here are 3 observable behaviors, or strengths, that I’ve witnessed when I see effective marketing leaders, from team managers all the way to Chief Marketing Officers.

Marketing Management

Plan the work, and work the plan.

Your marketing leader needs to be able to produce a 30-60-90 day plan, weekly priorities, and an annual budget.

Inspection and analysis.

For a CMO, no news is bad news. When you’ve not heard much about the performance of a campaign, a product launch, or the SEO of your website, it’s time to take a look. Inspect what you expect.

Direct, coach and delegate.

Have an ability to apply different leadership styles when you coach your team. Situational Leadership is very applicable since in Marketing, you typically have many different levels of task seniority in your team. Most of your team members will be doing things they are very experienced in, while also always learning something new where they can benefit from a more hands on leadership style.

Manage the “Marketing Rhythm”.

  • Daily standups, weekly team meetings, monthly strategic check-ins, and quarterly planning meetings.
  • You need to have experience with reporting at the same cadences, and of course management tools like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or something similar.
  • Manage deadlines and ownership across your team, again using tools like OKRs, marketing- and content calendars.
  • Proactive reporting up and sideways. Simple trackers. Know/understand key numbers.

Marketing Leadership

  • Earn the respect of the team, both your marketing team and your peers. Create followership by inspiring them and plotting a credible marketing strategy.
  • Have the ear of the board of directors, and the trust of your CEO. Deliver results, and own challenges that you will undoubtedly face. Marketing is such a broad field that there will always be things that don’t measure up to expectations. Own those and keep driving forward.
  • Speak truth to power. Have the intellectual horsepower and ability to “think on your feet” when called on. It’s impossible to be able to answer both “how many leads did we get yesterday” and “what did our competitors do last week”, so you have to be able to think fast, admit that you don’t always know the answer and be a credible owner of the next steps.
  • Ask Why and Know Why. Let people hold themselves accountable by driving this understanding across your team.
  • Quality - The buck stops with the CMO.
    • From the spelling check of a press release, to the suppression of opt-out email addresses in nurture campaigns.
    • Always ask your team, and yourself, “Could you have made it any better?”

Marketing ROI

  • Has a proven track record of producing outcomes
    • MQLs and Revenue impact
    • Successful product launches
    • PR campaigns and Analyst relations leading to coverage
  • Understands the usage of resources and the “cost of the results”
    • CAC, CPC
    • Team compensation
    • Vendor management
  • Budget Management and Optimization
  • Stamina - Has stayed in the role longer than 2.5 years, or was promoted in the same organization.
    • Marketing is “easy to wing” for the first 1-2 years.
    • This means the leader has built a sustainable foundation for growth.

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