A Survival Guide for Tomorrow's Marketer

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Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of Marketo
Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of Marketo

To say that the marketing industry is evolving is a given. Yet, not all marketers are keeping up with the times. According to the “State of Digital Marketing Survey Summary Report” by Ascend2 and its research partners, 40% of the 275 marketing professionals surveyed cite lack of internal skills or training as their most significant barrier to digital marketing success.

To help modern marketers better prepare for the future, Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of Marketo, broke down what tomorrow’s marketers need during the day two keynote at the marketing automation provider’s Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas. Here are the qualifications, skills, and behaviors he deems necessary.

Qualifications: “Tomorrow’s marketer is not who you think he is.”

Having a marketing background is no longer a main criterion for CMOs.

“If you went and looked for a specific profile of a CMO, you might not hire me,” said Dholakia—who served as a consultant and CEO earlier in his career.

Instead of solely hiring marketers based on their resumes or college degrees, Dholakia  says companies need to take a broader approach and bring on people who possess core interests or skill sets, such as the ability to tell stories or an enthusiasm for serving the customer.

“Our world is exploding,” he said. “There aren’t enough of us.”

Skills: “Tomorrow’s marketer is a da Vinci.”

Like the great Leonardo himself, Dholakia says marketers need to be savants in both art and science.  And instead of specializing in a certain channel (e.g. director of social media or director of mobile), marketers need to operate horizontally. In other words, they need to meet the customer everywhere, he notes.

This horizontal focus requires marketers to take on a plethora of roles. For example, Dholakia says marketers need to be analysts, strategists, creatives, and agile multi-disciplinary athletes.

“Look for opportunities to practice [and] build these skills,” he advised.

Behaviors: “Tomorrow’s marketer takes no shit.”

Dholakia knows that marketers often face resistance when proposing something new. However, he says it’s up to tomorrow’s marketers to fight the good fight and lead their corporations through persistence and determination—even if they don’t get the credit or recognition they deserve. Because at the end of the day, it won’t be prices or products that will give brands a competitive advantage—those can be dropped or replicated, Dholakia says. Instead,he claims it will be the engagement that they create around the customer that will lead them to victory. 

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