5 marketing skills CEOs need

You can rely on others to manage most of your marketing, but there are some skills you need yourself

Moe Rubenzahl
2 min readJul 6, 2021

Some of my marketing consulting work is to help CEOs learn marketing ideas that can’t be delegated. Even with a brilliant marketing staff you and your executives need these skills and habits as part of your everyday thinking.

Photo by adrianna geo on Unsplash

1. Constant focus on the customer. When we focus on products and innovation, we can lose sight of the customer. Asking ”What is the customer’s problem?” places your teams back on track. It’s a question you cannot ask too much!

2. Understand benefits vs. features. This is perhaps the hardest skill. We all talk about what the product can do; those with customer empathy ask what the customer can do with the product[1]. As CEO, you are the final stop. You must be able to spot feature-speak and coach your staff to think “benefit.”

3. Brand. You’re not an expert in branding, but you do need to be expert in your brand. It has been said that the only true brand manager is the CEO. The strongest and most valuable brands in the world[2] — names like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola — are ones where top executives speak the brand promise fluently and frequently.

4. Messaging is the final result of brand, customer, and benefits. Is your messaging on-brand, benefits-focused, and unfailingly customer-centric? You do not need to write the messaging but you need to be a sharp judge of it.

5. Insist on understandability. Marketing is full of charlatans who claim to be “experts” in the latest marketing trends and wrap their practice in technical-sounding jargon. If they can’t explain how it works in ways everyone can understand, there is something wrong.[3]

Mastering these five skills will help you manage your organization and understand what your sales and marketing staffs are accomplishing.



Moe Rubenzahl

What CEOs need to know about marketing. I bring 35 years of big-company marketing experience to small companies and their CEOs.