Six Marketing Career Tips From Spencer Stuart's Greg Welch

Marketing Is Changing. Here's How to Stay Ahead of the Game

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As marketing job descriptions change, so do the steps marketers need to take to reach the top.

Greg Welch
Greg Welch

Greg Welch, partner at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, told marketers at this week's Business Marketing Association global conference in Chicago what they need to do to get ahead in today's environment. Here are six quick hits from his talk.

Prepare to be your company's digital leader More executives are looking to their marketing people to lead company-wide transitions to digital. "Being a digital disciple is the ticket to the dance," Mr. Welch said.

Be a good co-worker Job candidates evaluated by Spencer Stuart are judged by more than the bottom line. "You may not think about it, but we typically start with your peers," Mr. Welch said. He wants to know whether candidates lift up their teams or bring them down.

Work across departments The best marketers have calendars filled with cross-departmental meetings, Mr. Welch said. Lisa Bacus of Cigna, he said, starts and ends her day with a meeting with the CIO. "Even the very best are still getting counsel," he said. "They're still collaborating and, importantly, they learn not to do it alone."

Bring in talent from the outside As marketing gets more specialized, great companies are swapping employees with other departments. "Watch what happens when you sit down with your head of IT next week and say, 'Might there be a talented young person on your team that we can flip flop?'" he said. "I've seen some incredibly talented finance people and, more recently, some IT-trained young executives, come into marketing and do a fabulous job."

Hug your stars Spend time with your star employees or risk losing them. "The people that I recruit away, typically leave because of their boss," he said. "You need to make sure you're spending a proper amount of time thinking about how do you truly get to know your people on the team."

And a stat CMO tenure, Mr. Welch said, is almost twice as long as it was when he began publishing a study on it 10 years ago. In 2013, CMOs lasted an average of 45 months in a job. In 2004, they lasted 23 months. "The good news is that things have settled down in the CMO ranks," he said.

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