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How to Have an Intelligent Conversation With a CMO

Posted by Laura Tyson on June 16, 2015

Digital marketing is a fast-paced industry where it seems like things are changing on nearly a daily basis. Additionally, it can be hard to learn up to the minute information in an educational environment. That means that getting started in the field can be an extremely daunting task. One of the best ways to break onto the scene is to make connections with those who know the industry and who are actively working in it.


Engaging a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) in meaningful conversation (not just asking for a job) is an excellent way to learn more from the front lines. However, taking the plunge to begin chatting with a knowledgeable expert is a big step. Being prepared for this type of encounter can help you turn a simple chat into a conversation that could open doors! So, what should you do if you have the opportunity to chat with a digital marketing guru at a conference or other event? Consider these steps.

#1 Understand Digital Marketing Terminology – Take some time now to study your digital marketing speak so you can keep up with the experts in conversation. (Tweet this) To the uninitiated, it could seem like a conversation about digital marketing is spoken in a completely different language. This glossary is a great place to start your education.

#2 Ask Non-Threatening Questions – Keep your questions friendly so the CMO understands you are truly interested in his or her knowledge—not in his or her ability to help you get a job. Two types of questions, you may want to ask include:

  • Organizational Learning Questions – These questions include those about the marketing program of the company as a whole. It could include questions about the company’s culture, competitors, and potential future changes. 
  • Digital Strategy Learning Questions – This includes questions about lead building, customer retention, distributing digital content or content marketing. Showing an interest in how the CMO accomplishes these important tasks will make him, or her open up about the job as a whole.
Here's some examples:

#3 Dig Deeper – Don't just stop with one question—ask three follow-up questions to gain a better understanding of the particular subject. For instance: If you asked a question about an organization’s content marketing program and you found out the company utilized a blogging program you might follow up and ask “Why do you use a blog?” “Why blogging instead of article marketing?” “Why are you planning to expand your blogging program?”  Another alternative is to ask the CMO to tell you more. For instance: “Tell me more about how you integrate blogging with social media.” 

"Tell me more" - 3 fantastic words to unearth deeper insights. (Tweet this)

#4 Leave the Door Open – When you feel the conversation winding down, do not let it end without finding a way to leave the door open to further communications. Ask if you can connect on LinkedIn or indicate an interest in following his or her work on Twitter or the company blog. This opens the door and allows you to engage with the CMO down the road if you should have a need. (Tweet this

While it can be a bit nerve-wracking to approach that CMO, the benefits are well worth a few minutes of sweaty palms.

Prepare yourself for this big day and get ready to make a connection that could turn into something incredible.

Want to learn more about engaging with experts in digital marketing and how to launch your own digital marketing career? Download the free ebook Breaking Into Digital Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Launching Your Career in Digital Marketing.

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Topics: For Recent Grads