4 skills needed for a marketer to sit on boards

Marketers can wedge themselves into the picture by focusing on leadership, customers, innovation and brand, says this former CMO


What makes a good CMO

For Ciavarra, a modern marketer’s arsenal comes down to four things: Leadership, customers, innovation and brand.

From a leadership perspective, it’s about transformation. “In some ways, if you are a marketer, that’s your remit,” he said.   

Meanwhile, there are three components to leadership transformation. “There’s a thinking component, where you are focused on innovation and strategy and business. There’s an engagement piece around envisioning and inspiring and enabling change. Then there’s a communication piece, where you’re developing others, doing coaching and challenge assignments,” Ciavarra said.

“Ultimately, that becomes cross-functional in organisations in terms of how you elevate and transform the company to the next phase.”

But a true and genuine focus on customer remains a top priority. Cracker Barrel had the benefit of being a big company, with big budgets, and invested a lot of money on research, which meant it learnt a thing or two about customers.

“We had all of these different views on our customers and on personas, and all of these different pieces, but at some point it becomes intellectual,” Ciavarra said. “There’s some value at some point in spending time with a customer, in the milieu in which they’re shopping, and really seeing and feeling them.

“Cracker Barrel is an interesting brand. It’s a brand in some ways that’s really predicated on this nostalgia. And ultimately, even brands that are beloved need new energy. That energy helps keep people engaged and brings people back to them." 

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