CMO food for thought: The talent debate

We ask three leading Australian marketing chiefs to tell us how they're tackling the changing skill base in their marketing teams

In our new series of insights into a key topic or issue for marketers, we ask three CMOs: What skill sets does today’s ideal marketing team need to have and why?

Olivia Wirth, group executive, brand, marketing and corporate affairs, Qantas

Ticking off a list of skills is less important than finding the right people to take the brand forward. It’s about mindset and philosophy as much as skill-set. That might sound intangible, but there are some key attributes we look for in our team.

One of the most important qualities is curiosity – marketers should be willing to explore new ideas and learn new things throughout their career. Without that curiosity, you revert to type and risk producing stale ideas. I enjoy working with people who challenge conventional thinking.

A second vital attribute is the art of collaboration. Qantas is a hugely complex business with countless stakeholders, internal and external – not least 70,000 passengers every day. Marketing plays an important role in leading brand communication, but we have to think about the health of the brand in a much broader sense. And for that reason effective collaboration is essential.

There is real skill in bringing multiple collaborators together to tell your brand’s story. The third key quality we look for is the capacity to innovate. Technology has empowered consumers and brands in ways we never thought possible. Airlines, for example, now have new ways of understanding, serving and communicating with customers, thanks to data, mobility and social media. People who embrace and feel inspired by the opportunities of new technology should be prized.

Finally, all these qualities should be underpinned by a respect for measurement and data. Marketers have to debate and define what success looks like at the start of a campaign and be rigorous in holding the results up against those criteria. Clear objectives lead to clear communication.

Vittoria Shortt, chief marketing officer, Commonwealth Bank

As technology continues to evolve, customers increasingly expect to be able to find information at a time and in a manner that is convenient to them. In this fast moving environment, a modern marketing team must be able to identify and effectively meet these changing customer needs. The two crucial skill sets a marketing team must have are the ability to analyse customer data and to then use these insights to create engaging and relevant content for conversations with customers.

At CommBank we facilitate millions of transactions for our customers across multiple platforms every day. Access to and interpreting the resulting data is essential to understanding our customers’ preferences and behaviour, which is then critical for developing our strategies, communications and selecting the most appropriate channels. All marketing activity needs to be grounded in these analytics and insights. The ideal marketing team will be able to interpret data to pre-empt customer needs and respond in a more relevant way.

Data helps us get the ‘what, where, when, and how equation’ right. We know customers expect content which is not only tailored to their personal interests, but they also want access to it where and when is most convenient to them.

Last week I was using an app that served me an ad for training courses on earth moving equipment. The where and when components were right for me but the content was not! The data we gather from testing different creative options has shown how the smallest changes in that execution can make a big difference to response.

A great marketing team spends time in the business understanding the market and customers. Adding the power of data, insights and technology to market observations, provides a more powerful platform to engage with customers.

Rob Brown, group manager of emarketing, Navitas

The shift from print to digital, outdoor to online, the desktop Web to the mobile Web – these trends are well documented, and the makeup of a company’s marketing team needs to reflect this new landscape. It goes without saying that ‘digital’ needs a front seat in any marketing team, but how do we unpack ‘digital’?

As marketing becomes ever more data-driven, and A/B/multivariate testing of marketing collateral is enforced by CMOs, data scientists will become a strategic imperative for marketing teams. Too many marketing campaigns launched today still overlook many of the data points which can have a significant impact on campaign results. What is the best time of day, or day of the week, to send an email? What is the optimum number of tweets or Facebook posts a company should post each day? Which hero-shot on the landing page is going to generate the most form-fills in Melbourne compared to Mumbai, or among men versus women - and where is the data to back up the decisions you make in these areas?

As companies seek to develop their own mobile apps, and move to responsive websites, we are likely to see more iOS and Android developers take up permanent positions in marketing teams big and small. These developers will also be required to drive innovation in areas such as geo-fencing and ‘beacons’, the deployment of which will become critical in highly competitive marketing environments such as tradeshows and shopping malls.

The emphasis on storytelling in marketing is also likely to force the hand of many CMOs to consider employing digital journalists – ‘in-house storytellers’ – on their marketing teams, while the focus on content marketing is also likely to attract more videographers into marketing teams.

Finally, the automation of many marketing tasks – from sending out email blasts, to triggering pick-up-the-phone alerts, to running sophisticated nurturing campaigns – is likely to see an influx of marketing automation experts into organisations large and small.

This article originally appeared in CMO's first magazine edition in March 2014. To subscribe to your complimentary copy of our exciting new print title, visit: cmo.com.au/subscribe.

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