What training to give the chief marketing officers of the future

Fine-tuning marketers' training and development can do more than just improve their skills: it can benefit the whole organisation, and its bottom line, writes Mhairi McEwan.

What training to give the chief marketing officers of the future

The role of the chief marketing officer continues to change at an incredible pace. The development of technology in the form of big data, social media and digital means much of the detail of the day-to-day job is being transformed beyond recognition.

Clearly marketers are accustomed to change - so why has the approach to learning and capability development in many organisations failed to keep pace? A revolution and cultural shift in learning philosophies, a brilliant range of platforms that encourage collaboration, sharing and problem-solving and the growing number of Generation-Y employees are reshaping expectations of how learning takes place at work.

So what are the implications for us as marketers - right now? The theorists say we all need to build a personal, practical and performance-driven learning "ecosystem" for ourselves and those around us that will grow everyone's capabilities and expertise. But what does that mean in practical terms? Here's how to do it.

Change your mindset

Open source has long been a key trend in software development and coding. It's the way Wikipedia and MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) work - collaboration and sharing for the greater good. It's also an excellent model for sharing knowledge in the workplace where everyone wins; contributing and benefiting in equal measure.

Acknowledge the key sources of learning and proactively leverage all opportunities open to you: (i) learning interventions provided by your company; (ii) learning opportunities on the job (such as new projects, informal mentorships or relevant intranet content); (iii) resources outside your workplace (MOOCs, online networks etc).

Be open to trying new things

Determine what learning platforms work best for you, set clear goals and think carefully about how to maximise each opportunity. Focus on your desired learning outcome and seek out practical challenges you can tackle with each new learning experience.

Curate content to optimise consumption and contribution

There's a school of thought that says 80% of any content you are looking for may already exist somewhere within the business or outside it - although not necessarily ready for consumption. Content curation is big news in education, for example, where teachers share content on a massive scale via sites such as TES Teaching Resources (approximately 150m downloads last year). Used properly, platforms such as Storify, Yammer, Flipboard and Pinterest allow everyone in the workplace to create, curate and distribute content to others, or to benefit from content that has already been assembled. Ideally a curation team will be nominated to ensure content is kept up to date and monitor analytics that point to what is most popular and useful.

Apply/practise learnings right away

Creating a personal learning ecosystem is largely about acquiring new skills and knowledge, but it's essential to apply it in your organisation to generate real impact in your role. Learning, as with capability development more broadly, is all about driving growth - both for the business and for you personally.

Mhairi McEwan is chief executive and co-founder of Brand Learning.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).