Marketing strategy is growing up. In today’s low-growth, hypercompetitive economic environment, companies increasingly are trying to blend their business strategy and line marketing activities to generate incremental top-line growth out of existing businesses. High-level strategic marketing requires people who combine the broad business perspective, cross-industry experience, cross-functional expertise, and deep analytical skills of management consulting with the subtle nuances of brand positioning and the action orientation of frontline marketing. The new class of strategic marketer will own the talents that, in recent years, have resided variously among consultants, agency executives, and senior strategists. In particular, these people—who merit the title of chief marketing officer (CMO)—will require five sets of skills. They must be able to spot business trends early; be experienced in developing both media plans and business plans that deliver on company financial goals; draw subtle insights from research on the underlying motivations for customer behavior; direct ad agencies and other partners to develop and execute a brand positioning consistent with target customer understanding; and be secure enough to stand up for the answer that is right for the business while also building consensus across departments on the future direction of that business. A tall order, certainly. But individuals who can fill the bill are in high demand by companies worldwide.

Strategy + Business Summer 2003