Monday, January 9, 2017

The 2016 McCombs Marketing Conference: 4.5 Lessons for the Aspiring CMO

By Linda Permenter, Class of 2017

In October 2016, McCombs hosted its annual Marketing Conference.This year, we partnered with the Forbes CMO Network to bring in CMOs and other distinguished marketing executives from all over the country. First and second-year MBA students got to shake hands and learn from seasoned marketing professionals like Tony Rogers, CMO of Walmart; Kurt Kane, CMO of The Wendy's Co.; and Marissa Tarleton, CMO of RetailMeNot - all McCombs alumni! As a McCombs student nearing graduation, I was inspired by the success our alumni have found in the real world and honored to hear them speak. Here are four-and-a-half takeaways for the aspiring CMO from this year's conference speakers and panelists:

1) Present quantifiable and measurable results to support your voice.
During the first panel aptly called "Earning a Seat at the Table," the point was made that you must back up your recommendations with numbers because most people at the so-called table (the CEO, CFO, etc.) demand them. You won't get anywhere with your idea if you can't demonstrate its positive impact, financial or otherwise.

2) In potential marketers, companies are looking for an analytical mind, leadership, intellectual curiosity and excellent communication skills.
This came straight from our alumni panel, "Lessons Learned From My Time at McCombs." Need I say more?

3) Human-to-human engagement matters now more than ever.
According to Matthew Langie, McCombs alumnus and founder of Market Linc, an estimated $1.6T is lost every year across all industries as a result of customers switching due to poor customer service. To him, this is proof that, despite all the technological advances in sales and marketing, we must retain a human empathy for our customer. Businesses don't do business, he said. People do.

4) Be a storyteller.
Kurt Kane, McCombs alumnus and Wendy's CMO, thinks about brand all day long. He strives to find the best way to tell the story of the Wendy's brand to consumers. He urged us not to "just make ads," but to tell a truthful, cohesive story about the brand - in TV, in print, in store, everywhere.

4.5) Be a storyteller now.
More immediately applicable to an MBA student's life, we should work to become great storytellers as we look for and begin our dream jobs. As mentioned in the alumni panel, "Lessons Learned From My Time at McCombs," an MBA student must develop excellent communication skills. To land your ideal job, you should craft a great story about your path to this interview and your goals for the future. To be successful in a marketing role, you should be able to explain complex ideas to colleagues and customers in a concise, persuasive way.

Read more about our conference in Forbes today.