A New CMO is Born

I started out in marketing because someone took a chance on me. I did not go to school for a marketing degree but instead found myself charged with the responsibilities of coordinating the first marketing department in a multi-million dollar company.

Now, three years laters I look back and see how far I’ve come but how much I still have to learn. I reorganized, budgeted, grown, and maintained an entire industry department and I wonder, am I still qualified? I see so many people going for MBAs or marketing degrees and wonder if I should too.

The answer is no. I am 25 about to be 26. I have built and optimized a marketing department single-handedly (with the exception of some mentoring advice). All without formal schooling. Because today’s marketers aren’t expected to do what they teach in school. We are expected to know that, surpass it, and perform actions that the professional and academic fields have never seen before.

Reports show that 90% of marketers don’t have the skills for digital marketing let alone the macro-thought process that go with it. New employees are placed in insular and regulated roles where tasks can resemble a day at the Ford line assembly.

As I realigned budgeting not only for more online marketing I also have to reevaluate the performance of that ROI constantly. Lead generation and customer acquisition can bleed a department if not managed. Like always, the fat cats keep getting fatter while we keep throwing money at them because it’s “how it’s done”.

The craziest part of having to label myself “marketer” isn’t that most people assume I am a bullshitter off the bat, but that not even marketers have a fair amount of knowledge of what they are doing. Coming into an industry that is based off of the unknown instead of working knowledge can seriously mess up one’s perception on how businesses should be operated. Reports also show that a “mere” $910 billion will be spent without the spenders knowing what impact it is producing. This is too much waste.

I pride myself on being a person able to cut away unnecessary associations to create efficient systems. When attempting to grow my department hiring proved…interesting. Many candidates have specific depth of knowledge but lack breadth. Each candidate fulfilled the requirements for a particular skill in creative direction, public relations, social media, or development. Fortunately, I needed depth as my strengths are in marking connections and a width of marketing/business knowledge. However, I am not a typical case. If I needed to build a fully functioning, all in-house department I would have to expand my workforce by an average 300% to fulfill all of the duties required and increase revenue by at least half that to support the expansion of expenses. There are very few candidates out on the market right now who are able to pull together creative, analytical, traditional, and digital mindsets to be a well-rounded and skilled employee.

Hard skills are needed to back up personality, intelligence, and energy. I am a new-age marketer because I was professionally born into the environment that breeds these types. I know and understand it only as someone who has had to fight and learn and make mistakes. So many mistakes. My original role was just as a coordinator, aka project manager and liaison. Now, I am able to communicate the technical side, explain industry jargon to clients, and utilize all the work to develop a plan for the business. My hard skills though (analytics, social media, content marketing) always need work because they are always changing.

My prediction: marketers (and relatable fields) will begin to make up an even larger portion of the work forces. Our industry is growing, but with new jobs being associated with “marketing”. More and more “specialists” will begin to form and premium prices will bloat an already enormous cash cow.

I originally wrote this post for Medium