Six Marketing Muscles of the 21st Century

December 13, 2017

By Nick Primola



As technological advancements continue to change the way marketing and advertising industry operates, training talent to keep up is essential. This is no easy feat — the right pieces must be in place to maximize the impact of training. This includes aligning leadership teams, fostering the right culture, and embracing innovation. As part of the ANA CMO Talent Challenge Playbook released earlier this year, former SAP CMO Maggie Chan Jones, offered an inside look at how the company is preparing its pool of talent to meet oncoming challenges. Here's what she had to say:

At SAP, investing in people is one of the key pillars of our strategy. We are proud to say that our people will always be our most defining and powerful competitive asset. To prepare our marketers for our digital future, we need to capitalize on their strengths, develop our capabilities, and pool our knowledge of customers to win their hearts and minds.

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of ensuring that we are investing in our existing talent and attracting new talent. We must build knowledge and skills through training, coaching, mentoring, and providing a supportive community with the right opportunities to practice and grow. We've put several strategic programs in place that are designed to create a work environment that encourages cross-generational inclusion and provides the resources to nurture a future-forward world-class marketing team.

To start, we have identified six transformational capabilities — the 6Cs — that we see as being necessary to reaching our marketing objectives:

  1. Brand Experience and Storytelling
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Insight-Driven Marketing
  4. Pervasive Digital and Social Engagement
  5. Sales Alignment and Enablement
  6. Loyalty and Advocacy

We believe these are the "marketing muscles" needed by a 21st-Century marketing team in a customer-oriented company. We know the customer determines whether we win or lose in the digital economy, and these skills set up our organization for success. Training and development for all our marketing employees around each of these 6Cs is a critical component for understanding and learning.

Future generations such as millennials and gen Z promise the next wave of customers, future business leaders, and influencers. We believe that helping to mold future leaders provides value not only to SAP, but to our customers as well. Ensuring that they are intertwined within the fabric of our multi-generational teams enables us to provide a more authentic customer experience. Investing in the next generation of marketers and ensuring a diverse workforce becomes a business imperative.

SAP has a robust Early Talent Program to help the next generation start and accelerate their careers. The innovative ideas the Early Talents bring to SAP is critical for our future successes. Specifically, we are excited about the Marketing Academy, which was built to help support the ongoing professional growth of our rising stars and prepare them for a career in marketing. We started the program by selecting individuals from a highly competitive pool of current interns and recent college graduates. Each of them attended an intensive two-week orientation where they dove into specific marketing content, covering everything from our company's marketing strategy to social selling and marketing automation, as well as interactive learning sessions about our products, services, and professional skills. Following the successful completion of the Academy, the participants officially joined their organizational teams and began their new roles. Participants are also invited to remain members of a global community, designed to support their ongoing professional growth through continued education, personal exchange, and mentoring. Although it's still in its beginning stages, we've seen tons of excitement thus far.

On a personal level, I'm a very strong believer that reverse mentorship is a key component of ensuring that everyone across an enterprise, no matter their experience, can continue to improve and learn new skill sets. As technology advances, it's important that even the most experienced employees get the training they need to progress alongside innovation. My reverse mentorship program allows employees to teach me new skills while at the same time giving me an opportunity to mentor them.

We are still on our journey, but our vision is to help the world run better and improve people's lives. Our model for talent development maps directly back to our customers to ensure our training efforts are in lockstep with our business objectives.


To read more, download the ANA CMO Talent Challenge Playbook. The playbook features case studies from more than two dozen CMOs from the ANA Masters Circle who are redefining the rules of what it takes to be a great CMO. Learn more about the ANA Masters Circle.

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