4 Ways to Become a Marketing Unicorn

Happily, the B2B marketing executives and managers we work with are seeing plenty of career opportunities come their way. Producing a steady stream of compelling thought leadership is a great way to attract the attention of executive recruiters.  Of course, the job descriptions for VP-level marketing roles also tend to be eye-opening right now.

One veteran tech marketing executive we know reviewed specifications for dozens of marketing-executive openings in and around Silicon Valley. “Every single set of job specs described a unicorn,” she told me. She responded the same way to each job description: “Are you kidding me? This thing doesn’t exist in nature!”

Granted, she was looking at the specs for CMO positions, most which called for a staggering assortment of classic brand communications expertise, an engineering background, product experience, financial and analytical acumen, and creative brilliance among other must-haves. A couple of years ago I interviewed marketing executives and executive recruiters while researching and writing a career management article. Those experts shared a number of ways that rising marketing leaders can strengthen their career prospects, including these four activities:

  1. Stretch your skill set: If you have deep creative experience, invest more time working with budgeting and financial metrics. Analytically focused marketing managers should plunge into the thought leadership development process. Getting involved in a pilot program is a good way to stretch your perspective and skills.
  2. Read constantly: Successful CMOs routinely use the word “voracious” to describe their content diets. They devour blogs, webinars, articles, white papers, pod casts and videos to expanding their knowledge – and to share relevant information and perspectives with their colleague. The tech CMO I mentioned tracks politics and reads poetry. Learning about these “stretch” topics helps her strengthen her approach to thought leadership and content creation.
  3. Huddle with outside experts: Another marketing executive assigns her entire team the task of taking someone in another company to lunch (and she foots the bill for it). Staffers share with the rest of the team what they learned during their lunchtime chats. The executive finds that the exercise gives her people regular access to fresh ideas and talented individuals.
  4. Seek out, and solve, business challenges: Many current B2B CMOs point to their attention to business problems as crucial to their mid-career growth.  “I would look across the department or even the organization and ask, ‘Where are the problems?’” one marketing executive recalls. “And then I would make suggestions about addressing those issues. That turned out to be a great career strategy.”

For more on this topic, see my full article here.