Wow, has 2016 been amazing or what?

I know it sometimes feels like we’re riding a rollercoaster of new marketing technologies, of-the-moment trends, consumer behaviors and just trying to stay relevant in a changing world, but it’s truly never been a more exciting time to be a marketer. Our companies need us now more than ever.

Personally, one of my favorite parts about The CMO Club – in addition to the lifetime friendships I’ve found – is that I’m always learning new things from the members. Whether it’s sitting on stage at Summit, joining a chapter dinner, or just watching what your brands are doing in the marketplace, the endless innovation never ceases to amaze me.

So, before we wrap up the year, I thought I’d share some of my top takeaways from CMOs this year that I believe will set the stage for 2017 and really move marketing – and CMOs – to a new level.

Marketing Creativity is Shifting, Are You?

Innovation and creativity isn’t dead. In fact, it’s thriving on a whole new level.

I’m seeing CMOs intentionally expand creativity from isolated marketing campaigns into business-wide innovation initiatives. This was an underlying theme throughout our Fall Summit and I can only see it continuing to gain traction as the year continues because it is such a big point. The shift is clear, from creative ads to creative business models and creative customer engagement.

Marketers are encouraging your teams to take big risks, breaking down organizational silos, hosting entrepreneurial brainstorming sessions and building ecosystems that extend far beyond the reach of just one brand. And you know what? Huge solutions are coming from it. When we allow people to come together in new ways, we aren’t just changing the way companies think about marketing, but we are making a huge impact in the lives of everyday people.

We are Entering a New Era of CMOs as CEOs

It used to be an anomaly to see a CMO move to the CEO role, but marketers like Susan Lintonsmith at Quiznos and Frances Allen at Jack and the Box – plus several others here in The Club – are proving that isn’t the case anymore.

Why? The changing digital landscape that put the control in the customers’ hands has made CMO expertise on the customer invaluable. Possibly now more than ever, marketers have an important seat at the table – one that leads beyond the marketing department and into business development. The best CMOs share and enlist passion for their brands company-wide.

Nice Guys DO Finish First

It’s always refreshing to see that most – if not all – of our members genuinely care about their teams, customers and fellow CMOs in the Club. I’ve never had a single person tell me that the secret to their success is ‘me first’ and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

In fact, I think that the overwhelming number of CMO Club members who have volunteered to be mentors and nominated their team members for the launch of The Future CMO Club this year is proof of this in action. CMOs are creating a legacy of marketing and passing down wisdom that can’t be found anywhere else. And it’s all because of their passion to better not only themselves but those around them, too.

We have some of the best marketers in the world here and the people who are constantly dedicated to elevating their team, their brand and their peers are having the most success these days.

A Peer Network Isn’t Only Valuable, but Necessary to Stay Relevant

For me the key here is the PEER FILTER. Do you know what I’m talking about – being able to trust your peers on something you don’t have the time or resources to check into personally?

So many CMOs came up to me at this year’s events sharing insights they got from peers. They shared how their peers are such a filter for them as they don’t have the time to research every new company request to meet and show them the latest technology, platform or content distribution option.

Want inspired success in 2017? Get active with your peers and leverage the access, insight and power of those that walk in your shoes. Be nice and think about others. Approach your job like a CEO and think creatively about the whole business – not just your ad campaigns.