Mastering the CMO Role: Essential Strategies for Success


The Gist

  • Build cross-functional ties. Fostering relationships with go-to-market peers and maintaining open communication are pivotal for aligning marketing with broader business objectives.
  • Utilize your expertise. Leveraging personal strengths and a foundation of curiosity aids in building trusted relationships and driving better outcomes.
  • Prioritize team cohesion. Assessing team structure and talent is crucial for creating a unified marketing team that aligns with company goals and market opportunities.

You’ve landed a coveted seat at the C-suite table — congrats! Expectations are high, and according to overused and not entirely representative research, your tenure as CMO may be short. Time to focus on learning the business, building your team, assessing the competitive landscape, driving pipeline and translating your external market knowledge into internal impact.

Listening and observing are key to understanding the nuances of an organization, but companies hire and expect us to hit the ground running, immediately delivering impactful, measurable results.

As I reflect on my first year as a first-time CMO, these marketing leadership strategies have helped me succeed — you may find them useful, too.

4 Marketing Leadership Strategies for the CMO

1. Align With Your Go-to-Market Peers

My first order of business as a CMO included establishing strong relationships with our sales, customer success (CS), finance, product and engineering leaders — and of course, the CEO. Since marketing is the headlight of the business, I needed to intimately understand our product roadmap and vision to effectively illuminate the path forward. 

Headlights on a mountain road illuminate the path forward in piece about marketing leadership strategies for CMOs.
Since marketing is the headlight of the business, I needed to intimately understand our product roadmap and vision to effectively illuminate the path forward. UMB-O on Adobe Stock Photos

Our go-to-market squad — the heads of sales, CS, product and I — stay tightly aligned to increase growth, profitability and other business goals. To foster that alignment, we meet weekly to share respective team and market insights about topics like:

  • Priority objectives that surfaced in broader executive meetings.
  • Specific customer accounts that need extra attention to unlock faster ROI.
  • Strategies for improving customer retention and growth. 

Building critical relationships goes beyond scheduled meetings and involves recognizing the importance of connecting with peers and embracing our role as business leaders driving the next growth stage. We must make deliberate efforts to spend time together as an executive team and prioritize one-on-ones or informal chats with peers, like sending a quick text message, making an unscheduled call or making time for a walk-and-talk when you’re in the same location for conferences, off-sites and customer visits. These actions create opportunities to establish trust with colleagues and promote open, transparent communication centered around shared business goals.

A tight go-to-market connection and open communication are essential because CMOs can’t just live in the marketing world. Remember the “Team One” principle? Your most important team isn’t your marketing team, but the executive team. A CMO doesn’t just solve marketing problems — you are solving business problems.

Related Article: Marketing Leadership: Is Chief Marketing Officer the Right Title?

2. Leverage Your Personal Strengths and Foundation

My early journalism career honed skills invaluable to my CMO role — knowing my audience, asking good questions and being fueled by insatiable curiosity. I’ve learned to examine issues and marketing leadership strategies from multiple angles, finding diverse perspectives within and outside the organization.


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