To me, the ideal marketing executive has experience in four areas:
Think of the “well-rounded” marketer as a . . . um . . . square:
Marketers usually start their careers at one corner of the square. Some people stay in their corner, building successful careers by becoming more skilled in one specialty. However, an individual that gains experience in all four specialties can contribute in ways that really matter to any business: product, brand, finance and sales. They also develop the perspective to creatively solve business challenges with integrated solutions.
When hiring a marketing manager, particularly if it’s someone you hope to groom for executive leadership, consider whether they have the breadth to play more than one role in the marketing function. Similarly, as you’re planning career development, rotate high performers through different marketing specialties (as well as through Sales or Customer Service) to round out their marketing leadership and general management credentials.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a lateral move from a marketing communications role into a product-marketing role is a better choice for someone wanting to sit at the executive table in a typical company than a promotion to a more senior marcoms role.
Don’t get me wrong. I have tremendous respect for people who are experts in their field. But if your ambition is to become a CMO (or a general manager), my advice to all “hip” marketers is to get experience in all four of these marketing specialties. It’s one time that being a square might not be so bad after all.