What is Marketing Leadership?

What is Marketing leadership - gigCMO

The landscape of marketing leadership has undergone a significant transformation in the last decade. The leadership essential to your marketing team today must have new skills, navigate emerging technologies, and bring innovative perspectives to the table.

When CEOs express dissatisfaction with their marketing leadership teams, it often stems not from incompetence but rather from a lack of expertise to achieve the CEO's revenue goals. Navigating the current marketing challenges demands a team equipped with the right knowledge and skills to drive revenue success.

Why is Marketing Leadership Important? 

Gone are the days when marketing was all about advertising campaigns. Today's marketing professionals must have diversified skills that include new perspectives, data-driven decision-making, and strategic thinking.

Marketing leadership is critical to marketing success because it establishes the tone for the entire marketing function. A successful leader establishes a vision, encourages innovation, and ensures that marketing initiatives are in line with the broader business objectives. Weak or inefficient leadership can result in misalignment, a lack of motivation, and, eventually, poor marketing outcomes.

What Does a Marketing Leader Do? 

A marketing leader is responsible for overseeing and directing all aspects of an organisation's marketing efforts. Here's how marketing leaders are doing just that—moving the needle, breaking new ground, and putting organisations in the spotlight.

1. Strategy

Effective marketing leaders collaborate with other leaders to develop and implement a marketing strategy. Effective marketing leaders are aware that all organisations will experience instability at some point. Common challenges include:

  • Differing Objectives Across Business Units: When different departments within an organisation have conflicting goals, it can hinder effective collaboration and alignment.
  • Resistance to Change: Some team members may resist adopting new processes or strategies, which can impede progress and innovation.
  • Resource Constraints in Marketing: Limited marketing resources, such as budget, personnel, or tools, can impact the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
  • Perception of Marketing as Solely Creative: If marketing is perceived as purely creative and not tied to data or revenue, it may lead to missed opportunities for growth.
  • Communication Challenges Between Departments: Poor communication between teams can result in misunderstandings, duplicated efforts, and inefficiencies. According to Harvard Business School research, 95% of employees do not grasp their company's strategy. A capable marketing leader can identify, implement, and explain a simple yet effective strategy.

They defined the marketing strategy

They understand that the heart of the strategy challenge begins with the definition. People think about strategy in various ways. Some believe that the future is too difficult to anticipate. Thus, they prefer to evolve their strategy organically, while others confuse strategy with goals and priorities.

The actual definition of a strategy is how a business generates and captures value. Marketing leaders connect the marketing strategy to the overall business plan. They develop a marketing strategy on a single page that includes the strategy timeline, strategy statement, present state of marketing, list of top marketing initiatives, underlying marketing beliefs and assumptions, and what marketing should look like in the future.

They explain the strategy in simple terms

The finest marketing leaders understand that a plan is only as effective as it is articulated and executed. If they can't describe the benefits of marketing in basic terms, it's definitely too complex.

Effective leaders convey marketing strategies in plain English and can define the value that marketing brings. They employ standard measures such as ROI, ROMI, and NPS.

2. Value

Successful marketing leaders understand the value of seamlessly transitioning from strategy to execution. That is how marketing demonstrates value: through the execution of its strategy.

Let's face it, everyone considers themselves a marketing expert, and everyone believes they know what the marketing department should be doing. But do they truly know what marketing is and how it may benefit your company?

If the marketing team does not properly communicate with the right audience, they will fail to meet the objectives. This can slow progress. It may result in an inability to profitably deliver on the value proposition. Overall, it will impede the business's growth.

They speak numbers and pounds

That is why it is critical to demonstrate the value of marketing, particularly understanding key performance indicators (KPIs). Marketing's value is derived from lead generation rather than branding.

Successful leaders understand that in order to create the most value and build a solid connection with sales, they must first focus on lead creation. The sales team is continuously seeking new leads, particularly from marketing.

They align sales and marketing

There is tension when marketing fails to deliver a consistent flow of leads to sales. Everything returns to leads.

Getting leads is an essential function of the marketing team. If it isn't, marketing executives know they have a serious problem. Marketing is already dealing with the idea that it is a department in charge of branding and advertising. If marketing has a lead-generation problem, they will fall further behind.

They never underestimate thought leadership

Marketing leaders never undervalue the importance of thought leadership. It's possible that other departments have been influenced by negative experiences with marketing in their past roles, leading to scepticism about its value.

Successful marketers promote their company's area of expertise as thought leaders in their field and demonstrate the significant impact it has on building trust, credibility, and influencing key decision-makers. This enables the business to shorten sales cycles, boost its reputation, and easily sell its products and services. Thought leadership plays an important role in creating a brand, opening up opportunities, and closing sales.

3. Data

Another area where strong marketing leaders focus is data. Data quality is one of the most significant difficulties that businesses face today. According to ZoomInfo, 62% of businesses rely on erroneous marketing and prospect data, and 64% of effective data-driven marketers believe data quality is one of the most difficult barriers to success.

It comes down to having clean data. The best marketing leaders foster a culture of "cleaning" their data. They are under pressure to do more with less, so they understand the importance of maximising every pound spent. Because data quality is critical to their effectiveness, they understand that faulty data leads to poor decisions.

They follow a data-driven strategy

An effective marketing professionals use analytics to extract more value out of their data and make data-driven decisions. They gave team members control over their data.

According to a Harvard Business Review research, 87% of respondents believe their businesses will be more successful if employees have access to data and tools to help them make decisions at the moment.

Marketing leaders are focused on revenue-generating metrics such as the number of leads created each month, the marketing channels that generate the most leads, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), engagement rates, and opportunities. Marketing leaders are data-driven, so they understand which aspects of the lead-generation management process can be enhanced.

4. Talent

Successful marketing leaders foster a culture of continual learning because they understand that learning is like a daily mental fitness routine. Marketers must stay in shape by constantly learning about marketing and non-marketing areas that can be used for marketing. Effective marketing leaders foster a culture of curiosity by pushing their teams to get top digital marketing certifications.

5. Collaboration

Marketing is facing a difficult period as more CMOs are promoted to chief executive officer (CEO) positions. To be effective, they must gain support from all lines of industry. The best marketers understand this therefore, they push the boundaries to increase their influence. They work effectively with important C-suite stakeholders in finance, information technology, and human resources to achieve results.

The most effective marketing leaders are unifiers who foster mutual accountability and a common vision. They have a place at the table when major decisions are being made. As a result, even during a downturn, marketing expenses increase, and these marketing leaders stay with the company for extended periods of time.

Empower your Business with the Right Marketing Leadership

Marketing isn't only there to make things look and sound good. Being a marketing leader involves more than just understanding the technical aspects of marketing. Failure implies the marketing leader must return to the data and rethink the strategy.

You can find all of the characteristics of the right marketing leader with gigCMO's Fractional CMO Service—a commercially and customer-focused partner with experience in providing marketing leadership in a business just like yours. We support marketing leaders who want to benefit from our expertise. We can coach, mentor and guide them and ensure that marketing strategy and plans are geared for maximum commercial performance.

Contact us today about what gigCMO's Fractional CMO Service can do for your business.