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The best VP Marketing and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) realize they never do it alone. Everything we do is through the greatness of other people. The success factors start with the idea that your people come first. You must bring a vision to the role, put the spotlight on your team, be an approachable leader, and run the process and the numbers to ensure your people can focus on delivering what needs to happen.

If you are good at your role, you might not need to do any marketing other than challenge and guide your people to do their best work. Your greatness comes from the greatness of your people. Invest in training your people to motivate your team and keep them engaged. At the VP Marketing or CMO level, it is more about people. The equation is simple: smarter people make amazing work that delivers outstanding results.

Brand Management Success - VP Marketing or CMO level

Quintessentially, rule #1 is you have to make the numbers.

Your primary role is to create demand for your brands. You are paid to gain share and drive sales growth to help drive profit for the company. The results come from making the right strategic choices, executing at a level beyond competitors, and motivating your team to do great work. Making the numbers gives you more freedom on how you wish to run things. Without the numbers, the rest might not matter.

At the VP Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) level, success comes from your leadership, vision, and ability to get the most from your people.

Success for the VP Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) level

1. Invest in their people

What many people miss is that people come first. At the VP Marketing and CMO level, I believe the results will come if you focus on your people. Smart people produce great work and, in turn, outstanding results. It would help if you regularly review the talent with your directors. Build a system to provide feedback to everyone on the team, preferably quarterly.

Invest in training and development. 

Marketing Training should not be just learning on the job, but in the classroom, to challenge the thinking of your people and give them added skills to be better in their careers. Marketing fundamentals matter. Your people need to know strategic thinking, define their brand’s positioning statement, write a Brand Plan, write a Creative Brief, and judge advertising. Marketers are NOT getting the same development they did in prior generations. Investing in training not only makes them better but it also motivates them to know that you are investing in them.

Beloved Brands playbook

Our Beloved Brands playbook goes in-depth on everything you need to build brand consumers will love. Learn about strategic thinking, brand positioning, writing brand plans, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and financials.

Beloved Brands playbook

Our readers tell us they keep our Beloved Brands playbook nearby whenever they need to take on a new project. Clearly, we are thrilled that 89% of Amazon reviewers have given Beloved Brands a 5-star rating. Also, we wrote a B2B Brands playbook and a Healthcare Brands playbook

2. Run the process and the system

The best VP Marketing or CMO should run the P&L and all the Marketing processes. You have to run the P&L and make investment choices. Bring an ROI and ROE (Return on Investment and Effort) mindset to those decisions. These choices will be one of the essentials to making the numbers and gaining more freedom in how you do the job. Regarding the process, I have always believed that smart processes in place—brand planning, advertising, creative briefs—should not restrict your people but instead provide the right freedom to your people. Get your people to drive all their creative energy into great work that gets in the marketplace, not trying to figure out what slide looks cool in the brand plan presentation.

3. The CMO must be the visionary

The best VP Marketing or CMO brings a vision for the brand’s direction and the team’s inspiration. Create a theme that taps into the purpose, beliefs, expectations, and behaviors you will reward. You are now the Mayor of Marketing. What’s your campaign slogan? Get up, walk around, and engage with everyone on your team. You can make someone’s day, motivate and encourage them to deliver excellent work. Set a high standard, and when your team puts an outstanding idea up for approval, and it is fundamentally sound, then approve it. Do not do the constant spin of fear. It makes you look indecisive and bureaucratic.

4. Put the spotlight on your people

The best VP Marketing or CMO lets their people own it and let them shine. It has to be about them, not you. Do not be the super-duper Brand Manager. By making all the decisions, you bring yourself down a level or two and take over their job. Instead of telling, start asking questions. Challenge your team and recognize the great work. It might be my own thing, but I never said: “thank you” because I never thought they were doing it for me. Instead, I said: “you should be proud” because I knew they were doing it for themselves.

5. Be an authentic, approachable leader

The best VP Marketing or CMO has an open door and makes it easy for people to engage them. You have to set up an avenue where they can approach you and feel comfortable enough to communicate the good and bad. A hidden leader scares people. No one wants to share concerns or bad results for fear of how you will react. Don’t get left in the dark. Open communication keeps you more knowledgeable. Get your people to challenge you. Inconsistent and unpredictable behavior by a leader does not “keep them on their toes.” It creates tension and inhibits creativity.

Be consistent in how you think, how you act in meetings, and how you approve. Leadership assumes “follower-ship.” Create an atmosphere that will make people want to go the extra mile for you. Once you show up ready to listen, you will be surprised by how honest they will be and how much they will tell you.

Brand Scorecard

The Vice President of Marketing and the CMO role can be very lonely

When I first took the job as VP Marketing, I found it surprisingly a bit lonely. Everyone in marketing tries to be “on” whenever you are around. Moreover, you don’t always experience the “real” side of the people on your team. Just be ready for it. It takes a while to get used to the distance from your new peers (the head of sales, HR, operations, or finance). It is far greater than you might expect and may feel daunting at first.

Your peers hope you run Marketing and let them run their functional area. Also, the specific problems you face, they might not appreciate or even understand the subtleties of the role. Your boss also gives you too much rope, which can be good or bad. There will be less coaching than you had in prior positions. It is crucial for you to have a good mentor or even an executive coach to give you someone to talk with that understands your role.

Marketing Careers

On a classic marketing team, there are four key levels:

  • Assistant Brand Manager.
  • Brand Manager.
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
  • VP Marketing or CMO.
In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing, and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.

At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report and get better around the fifth report.

When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate your team’s greatness and let your best players do their absolute best.

And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.

If you are a CMO or VP Marketing and want more information on our Beloved Brands Marketing Training programs, click below or email Graham Robertson at [email protected]

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With our Beloved Brands playbook, you will learn to think strategically, define your brand positioning, write a marketing plan, make execution decisions, and analyze your brand. Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands as a reference tool to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. We are proud that 89% of online reviewers have rated Beloved Brands a 5-star. As a result, Beloved Brands has been a #1 bestseller in brand management. We also have the B2B Brands playbook and our Healthcare Brands playbook

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