As a marketer, there’s nothing I love more than learning from the best and brightest in the industry. So when Business Insider released their 2024 list of the 34 Most Innovative Chief Marketing Officers, I couldn’t wait to dig in.

This year’s crop of CMOs are navigating some major challenges – from the death of third-party cookies to the rise of generative AI. But they’re also discovering innovative ways to engage customers, drive growth, and future-proof their brands. They’re taking a truly strategic, long-term approach to marketing. Rather than chasing the next campaign or sales promotion, they’re focused on building strong, differentiated brands that can weather any market conditions.

So what can B2B and B2C companies learn from these marketing leaders? Here are 5 key lessons:

1) Harness the Power of Partnerships

Take Andrea Brimmer from Ally Financial as an example. Her aggressive investments in women’s sports have generated enormous brand trust and recognition. In a B2C context, this kind of partnership can foster consumer loyalty and broaden audience reach. For B2B brands, similar alliances can be formed by supporting industry events or educational programs, ensuring long-term value and market positioning.

Application: Align your brand with complementary partners that resonate with your company’s mission and values. This creates powerful associations that consumers will remember, linking your brand with trusted and impactful partners.

2) Innovate with Emerging Technologies (but don’t forget the basics)

Many of the top CMOs are pioneering the use of emerging technologies like generative AI. Emma Chalwin from Workday is leveraging generative AI to cut down on campaign development time and enhance personalization. This innovation can be mirrored by CMOs and marketing executives aiming to build robust data analytics frameworks, driving both consumer insight and creative execution.

Application: Introduce AI-driven tools to aid in hyper-personalization and predictive analytics. Whether it’s through chatbots, AI-driven ad campaigns, or predictive behavior analysis, this approach can optimize marketing activities and offer targeted solutions to your audience.

3) Embrace Content Diversity

Another common thread among the top CMOs? A willingness to experiment with new marketing channels and reach new target segments. Ryan Ostrom of Jack in the Box exemplifies how aligning marketing efforts with pop culture can create memorable brand experiences. Jack in the Box’s “Late Night Munchie Meal” campaign featuring Snoop Dogg resulted in substantial sales bumps.

Application: Engaging with industry influencers and thought leaders can drive brand authority. The key is consistency—ensuring each quarterly campaign builds upon previous successes to develop a coherent brand narrative.

4) Foster Inclusive Marketing

Dara Treseder at Autodesk focuses on accessibility and inclusiveness in her marketing strategies, driving corporate responsibility alongside brand growth. CMOs and marketing leaders should take note: inclusivity isn’t just a social good; it’s a strategy for expanding market reach.

Application: Incorporate inclusive marketing practices that consider diverse customer bases. This can involve everything from featuring diverse models in campaigns to making products accessible to people with disabilities. For B2B, this could mean creating programs for minority-owned businesses.

5) Leverage Your Core Data

Marcus Casey of BMW North America created a powerful “data spine” to connect customer data across various platforms. This comprehensive data approach allowed for exceptionally targeted campaigns, resulting in high engagement rates.

Application: Implement a centralized data system to unify customer data. This not only aids in future-proofing your marketing efforts but also offers invaluable insights that can be used to enhance personalization, optimize spend, and measure ROI effectively.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from these innovative CMOs? They’re taking a truly strategic, long-term approach to marketing. The overarching lesson from these innovative CMOs is clear: developing a long-term, consistent marketing strategy pays off. Random, sporadic marketing efforts can lead to brand confusion and wasteful spend. Instead, aligning all marketing activities under a unified strategic vision is key for sustained growth and brand recognition.

Rather than chasing the next campaign or sales promotion, they’re focused on building strong, differentiated brands that can weather any market conditions.

For CMOs, CBOs, and marketing leaders, the challenge is to take these lessons and adapt them to their unique brand contexts. By leveraging partnerships, emerging technologies, diverse content, inclusivity, and robust data practices, you can build a cohesive and compelling brand narrative that drives long-term success.