Five must-knows if you want to become a chief marketing officer, by Diageo, Johnson & Johnson and HP

Diageo Chief Marketing Officer Syl Saller.
Tristan Fewings | Getty Images for DIAGEO

Far from being the "coloring in department," responsible for making people want to buy products, marketing now has a broader remit than ever.

And as industries are ever more disrupted by start-ups that think differently, brands and their guardians – the chief marketing officers (CMOs) – have an ever-harder task of keeping up with trends and working out what consumers want from them. Here are five things to know about what the job involves now for aspiring CMOs.

Business first, marketing second

Most CMOs find their role is much broader than just advertising and branding. If someone makes a complaint via social media for example, it's not just the PR team that has to think about responding, it's a broader communications issue.

"There is the convergence between the corporate communications world and marketing, because everything converges in social media and you need an integrated strategy. There is more data than ever before, there's the complexity of the media environment," said Antonio Lucio, HP's chief marketing and communication officer, speaking on a panel hosted by The Economist at the Cannes Lions advertising festival Wednesday.

"The CMO needs to be a business person and a marketer second. If you don't have a seat at the business table, you really don't matter. (You must) demonstrate that your efforts are not only building the brand but are building the business," he added.

Learn to disrupt yourself

Syl Saller, the chief marketing and innovation officer at drinks company Diageo, said the company thinks strategically about how it might be disrupted. "We have a specific strategy to think about, how are we going to disrupt ourselves, we partner with people like (venture capital firms) Prehype and Science, specifically starting from (the question) who is going to disrupt us? If it's going to be somebody, how about it's us. And we have some sort of control over that. Because it's going to happen, you can't stop it or expect it," she said, speaking on the Cannes Lions panel.

Think long term, even when the business doesn't

Businesses are often beholden to quarterly reporting, and therefore think short-term. But having a longer view will help CMOs recognize upcoming trends and consumer behavior. For Saller, marketers need to think ahead.

"We have to be the ones who have a particularly strong vision for the future, so CMOs have to operate in every time horizon. Deliver the short, deliver the medium, deliver the long (term), we have to anchor ourselves more strongly in the long (term) because the weight of the organization is going to take us back to short term in many cases," she said.

Watch out for Amazon

What does the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon mean for other businesses, especially consumer goods companies that have traditionally sold via retailer rather than direct to people?

"In terms of the marketer specifically, what it means is you have to think like a retailer like never before," said Alison Lewis, global CMO at Johnson & Johnson, speaking on the panel.

"If you think of the traditional 'funnel' of how marketers behave, awareness and consideration are at the top of the funnel and that's where marketers have traditionally spent the majority of their time.

"When you think like a retailer, you have to think about the experience someone is getting and the totality of the journey, you have to think about the advocacy, ratings and reviews, how is my experience 'landing' on consumers… because that is going to make or break the loyalty (from customers)," she added. Lewis called this complexity a "spaghetti chart," that CMOs now have to consider.

Hire tech talent – but do it properly

CMOs and chief technology or information officers are working together more closely in many businesses, and Saller has worked with Diageo's CIO on a digital "center of excellence" training for staff.

The temptation is to hire a load of tech people, but they need to be integrated properly. "When we hire people from agencies or data people, (we find) the rest of us need to up our game to understand their world. I have seen companies just try to hire a whole load of tech people and not think about what it takes to integrate them successfully and that doesn't work," said Saller.

Lucio also advocated bringing in technology experts who report to the CMO: "You need to bring these people and give them big jobs," while Lewis said Johnson & Johnson has expertise in science and brand building but not technology.

"The tech world is where we fall down, what's really cool about bringing tech people in is they really operate in this agile, learning world, (a) minimum viable proposition world which comes from Silicon Valley so they are teaching us how to do that and fail fast," she added.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.