In this Forbes CMO leadership interview, I explored the secrets of successful marketing leadership with Arnd Pickhardt, former CMO of Lidl and winner of the ‘Visionary Marketer of the Year’ award. Arnd highlighted the unique power of a CMO to quickly change a brand’s perception and drive change. He discussed the challenge of balancing short-term sales targets with long-term brand development and emphasized the importance of a well-thought-out communication plan.
Arnd also addressed the issue of big data, noting that while many companies have abundant data, they struggle to extract valuable insights. He stressed the need for aligning online and offline marketing efforts and breaking down silos within organizations to leverage the power of digital effectively.
One defining leadership experience Arnd shared was the appreciation he received from his team at the end of his seven-year tenure in the UK. He emphasized the importance of building and nurturing a great team.
Arnd advocated for a “charm-first” approach to leadership, emphasizing the value of getting buy-in from others before resorting to pressure. He also discussed a case where he broke a rule to respond to a competitor’s challenge, leading to a successful campaign and boosting his brand’s self-confidence.
Regarding changes in leadership, Arnd discussed the need for quick decision-making and adaptability in the fast-paced digital age. He mentioned that younger leaders prefer a positive company culture and inspiring managers over high pay and long hours.
Looking to the future, Arnd identified the ongoing challenge of balancing short-term ROI with long-term emotional brand perception as a key leadership challenge. He emphasized the importance of finding powerful facts and building resilience.
In his leadership advice to others, Arnd encouraged thinking like a customer, communicating honestly, and being courageous.
Finally, Arnd expressed his interest in leading another customer-focused business transformation in the future, with a focus on tearing down silos, aligning teams, leveraging data, and supporting profitable growth.