I read a great article recently, entitled “5 Must-Have Skills for Modern CMOs,” which stated that CMOs should be relentlessly curious. I tell my young daughters often that they should stay curious and keep asking questions, and I believe this concept definitely holds true for marketers as well. So whether you are a brand manager, a business owner, or an agency executive or creative, maintaining a healthy level of curiosity is imperative to being successful in your marketing endeavors.
About what (or whom) should you be curious?
Understanding the behavior of consumers (especially your brand’s specific target audience) is something about which you should always want to know more. You need to know when, where, why, and how they use your product or service (and/or your competitors’). You should have a sense of the media vehicles and communication channels with which they interact. You can’t just learn about these things once and walk away. You must constantly study your current and prospective customers to see how their feelings and actions change over time, so you can modify your marketing strategies as needed.
Various types of technology affect marketing in different ways, so maintaining constant curiosity in this broad category is crucial for sustainable success. As a professional marketer, ensuring you are armed with the appropriate resources to understand: (1) data measurement, management, and reporting, (2) media-related technologies (DVR usage, satellite and internet radio penetration, programmatic buying systems, and much more), and (3) the state-of-the-art web, mobile, and social network techniques is quite necessary. Regularly reading industry publications, hiring or partnering with specialists in these areas, and/or attending conferences will better equip you with information on the latest technological breakthroughs that affect marketing.
These days, staying abreast of all of the available macro- and micro-targeted marketing tactics can be daunting. However, understanding all of the ways you can reach your target audience will allow you to craft a more strategic marketing plan designed to meet your business objectives and work within your budget. So it pays to know about the day-to-day evolution of the media and tactical landscape. Again, one of the best ways to do this is through continuing education, whether it’s simply having routine conversations with peers or regularly reading trade pubs and articles by experts.
Since marketing involves building the business by driving customer transactions, it affects every department in your company. Having a strong and diverse team around you will only improve your marketing efforts. Learning and re-learning about how your colleagues think and work is a great way to ensure you tap into their “best” to create a sound customer-centric business strategy. It also doesn’t hurt to be a little curious about your contemporaries’ personal lives to get a basic understanding of their life’s journey so you can better relate to and collaborate with them.
Staying curious is just one of many traits successful marketers need. By focusing on constant learning about consumers, technology, tactics, and colleagues, you will be better at your job and, therefore, more marketable.
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.