Conducting a Marketing Assessment

One of the first things to do in your first 90 days is to assess overall marketing capabilities.  I would argue one should also reassess every year.  While there is no standard way to vet the current state of marketing- and every company and situation is unique in some way – there are a number of areas one should baseline against best practices, and I’ve developed and refined my thinking on this topic over the course of assessing teams during several tenures as a CMO.

Marketing is particularly challenging to assess because, unlike Sales for example, it’s a much more heterogeneous organization, meaning there are a wide range of distinct sub-functions that each have unique characteristics that determine what good looks like.  However, like accounting, there are many measurable aspects to marketing performance that can be baselined and tracked in a fairly objective manner.

At a high level, the range of areas to assess include: reviewing each discrete marketing function for maturity and adherence to best practices, including, but not limited to: analyst relations, branding, channel marketing, communications, community, customer marketing, creative, demand gen, digital marketing, events and field marketing, marketing operations and tech stack, product marketing, PR, social media, Web marketing, sales enablement and the sales development function (ADR, BDR, or SDR), whether or not it reports to marketing.

It’s also important to understand how marketing aligns with and supports other go-to-market functions, including channels, customer success, products and sales.  Having shared goals and joint initiatives certainly helps, but I’ve found that strong alignment is a continuous exercise, as it’s easy to get out of alignment.  One proven way to foster ongoing alignment is to work across functions at all levels, e.g., if the CRO and CMO are aligned, ensure that their reports, up and down the organization, are also regularly communicating and working to maintain proper alignment.

A critical part of any assessment is of course determining if you have the right leaders in place, have any key functional gaps, and whether you are operating effectively in all of the key marketing sub-functions enumerated above.   Beyond that, I have found that picking several key metrics per sub-function is sufficient to gauge overall competency and effectiveness.

Here are a few samples of key capabilities and metrics across several sub functions.

For branding, determine what metrics are in place that can be baselined and up-leveled, such as brand awareness, brand advocacy, and brand sentiment, as well as having a comprehensive brand guide. For demand gen, ABM maturity, database size and health, the demand waterfall efficiency (from responses to leads to opportunities to close, and conversion % for each stage), digital, such as performance marketing (e.g., PPC), ROMI, CPL, and CAC, among many other pipeline and efficacy metrics. For customer marketing, community engagement, product understanding, adoption (e.g., PLG), NPS, customer satisfaction, customer advisory and advocacy. For marketing communications, analyst relations and industry rankings, social media reach and engagement, and PR impact (including SOV, SOM). For product marketing, evaluate buyer personas, competitive positioning, launch planning, messaging, product content, sales enablement, and thought leadership. For Web marketing, there are a number of what I refer to as web vitality stats, and key ones include overall site traffic, new and returning visitors, time on site, page views, sessions, bounce rate, SEO and conversions (form fills, hand raisers, trials, etc.).

Another key consideration in conducting a marketing audit is to ensure it’s done in the context of the company objectives.  It’s important to: understand the competitive landscape and relative market position; review marketing plans and go-to-market strategies; review the company’s business plans, assess the branding approach, including brand architecture, brand value proposition and brand character; evaluate the marketing mix, results and measurable ROI; understand the content marketing strategy and production capacity; review demand generation strategies, tactics, and performance metrics; assess Sales and Marketing alignment and how Marketing enables Sales and supports the sales process; review metrics and reporting, including marketing KPIs; review pipeline generation, measurement and performance by all contributors (sales, marketing, BDR, partners); review organizational structure and resource allocation and identify potential gaps; evaluate the marketing budget and allocations for your company stage and industry; assess the Martech stack and tools to identify potential gaps.

Finally, it’s also important to validate your assessment with the CEO and other C-suite peers, both to gather feedback and increase alignment. Also, there are many tools I’ve found help the process of driving continuous organization improvement.  First, establish monthly and quarterly objectives for outcomes across all the marketing functions and communicate expectations for results and improvement widely and often.  Second, establish a learning culture and encourage risk-taking (e.g., making small bets, testing, learning, iterating).  Every CMO I know is of course experimenting with ChatGPT, but where can one get the most operational leverage?  How much should be done in-house vs. outsourced?  Lastly, marketing is both an art and a science and while you should measure and objectively assess across the board, don’t just major on metrics alone.   Ensure there’s also a focus on establishing brand appeal, generating breakthrough creative, challenging the status quo, establishing a differentiated market position, crafting disruptive messaging, and creating compelling campaigns that move the needle.   The competition for a buyer’s attention has never been fiercer, so find novel ways to break through the clutter and connect with your audience.   I’m sure there are areas to assess I have not covered and metrics I have not mentioned, so please suggest others for consideration, and audit away!

The First, and Next, 90 Days

It’s well established that the first 90 days is critical for any new role. There are many tools, templates and entire books to help you plan and navigate your first 90 days of a new job, from an individual contributor role up to exec level. For a CMO, or other C-suite position, when the stakes are high and the pressure to get some points on the board quickly is even more intense, it’s important to get fast traction.

To speed the path, I’ve developed a framework for a quick start which increases the likelihood of success.  For each of my tenures as a 5x CMO, I’ve refined the tools and templates based on real-world experience, lessons learned and sharing best practices with peers.   Here are a few key considerations.

First, understand and manage expectations for your deliverables.  For most CMO’s, there will be an intense focus on a few things, from increasing pipeline, to elevating the brand, enhancing communications, driving product introduction and adoption, improving ROI, amplifying global web presence, and more.  Identify some quick wins and get alignment on what you can deliver in what period of time, – with the resources you have – early on.

Second, building strategic working relationships, with your team, peers, and others is paramount.  You’re going to have to rely on others, their capabilities and commitments, to ensure success, so invest time in getting to know as many people as you can, as quickly as you can.  Fortunately, as Billtrust, our CEO, Sunil Rajasekar, is a model for how to do this well. From his listening tour, to a systematic series of visits to every heritage Billtrust office, meet and greets, etc., he connected with a majority of the company in his first 90 days.   I’ve been working on my personal version of this since joining Billtrust last January, including in-person opportunities, as well as virtual quick connects with everyone on my team.

Third, assess your team, from your direct reports to everyone on your staff, as quickly as possible.  Do you have the leaders who can help you scale, refine and deliver consistent and predictable outcomes?  If not, have candid conversations about what efforts are needed to ensure success.  Are there any gaps in resources (human and financial) to achieve the agreed-upon goals and targets you’ve established with buy in from the CEO and other stakeholders?  How soon can you close the gaps, and if not, how will it impact your ability to achieves key goals?  And so on.

Fourth, gather insights, about the company, the market, your customers and the competition.   Go broad and get input from a wide variety of resources, both internal and external.   Is there a user community to tap into?  Are there brand and sentiment tracking studies?  Listen to GONG calls, talk to customers, partners, industry analysis, customer advisory boards, etc.  Review previous research and findings, and conduct new research as needed to test hypothesis and validate assumptions.

Fifth, establish your plan.  I like to have quarterly goals and an annual plan.   I have leveraged Forrester’s (formerly Sirius Decisions) Plan on a Page format many times.  I find it a forcing function, meaning it is a catalyst to establish marketing priorities, align to company objectives, drive integration and cross-functional alignment, and visibility, and promote better communication and clarify across the organization.

Lastly, determine the concrete metrics and measures of success, and get buy in from all key stakeholders.  Without objective metrics, it’s really hard to know what good looks like, whether you’re succeeding, or falling short, and if you are making steady progress. As marketers, we all know that marketing is subjective, constantly changing, and viewed and judged through the lense of perception – so you want to reduce as much subjectivity to your actual performance, via metrics and reporting, as possible.

With the above in mind, let’s say you succeed in your first 90 days, or perhaps fall short on a few objectives and deliverables.  What is the plan for next 90 days? I would argue that, whether you’re working for a public or private company, you should renew your 90 day plan every – you guessed it- quarter.  What worked, what didn’t, and why?  Were there some quick wins that you can build on, or setbacks to take another run at? Did you marshal sufficient resources to execute the plan, or do you need to enlist additional support to increase the likelihood of increased success in your next quarter?

As a CMO, as in other C-suite roles, it’s really important to not only get feedback from the CEO, but also from your team, peers, investors and board members (if appropriate). Many of us have learned the hard way that cross-functional alignment is not a one and done goal.  It’s a journey, a continuous cycle of gathering feedback, evaluating and adjusting.  Markets evolve, industry dynamics shift, priorities change, and reflection and resets are necessary to optimize success. Be proactive, be resourceful, stick to your beliefs – the odds favor those who persevere.

Speed the Path to CMO

The Top 1o Things to Do

I am currently mentoring a couple of folks who have either recently become a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), or are on a path to becoming one, so I thought it’s be good to share a few tips on speeding the process.

Not surprisingly, I asked ChatGPT to generate a few ideas, which I’ve adapted and augmented through the lense of having been a CMO for nearly 14 years.

Becoming a CMO is a highly competitive and challenging process that requires a combination of education, experience, developing a broad range of specific skills across marketing sub-functions, outstanding leadership and communications abilities, and a bit of luck and good fortune. Here are 10 things you can to take to speed up your path to becoming a CMO:

  1. Be intentional.  The most important and impactful thing to do is to be intentional- it’s true in life and work. Map out a timeline, career path, progressive steps and milestones to get a sense of what it will take, and how long, and ask a few CMOs you know to provide feedback on whether your goals, steps, and timeline are realistic and achievable.
  2. Build a strong foundation. Start by pursuing a marketing-related degree, such as a Bachelor’s in Marketing or Business Administration. This will provide you with a solid foundation of marketing principles and practices. Consider pursuing a Master’s degree in Marketing or an MBA to deepen your broad business knowledge and add skills in the field.  Of course, if you’re in B2B Tech or SaaS, technical degrees are also good.
  3. Gain experience. Look for opportunities to gain experience in different marketing roles, such as revenue marketing, marketing communications, product marketing, digital marketing or marketing analytics. This will help you develop a broad range of skills and a deep understanding of different aspects of marketing. Try to take on roles that will give you exposure to different areas of marketing, and where feasible consider lateral moves, say from demand gen to product marketing as a way to cross-pollinate and expand skills.
  4. Develop a broad skill set. To become a CMO, you need to have a strong skill set that includes strategic thinking, leadership, communication, data analysis, and creativity.   You have to possess strong drive, passion, intensity, leadership and communicate effectively across the organization. Focus on augmenting these skills by attending training programs, conferences, Webinars and workshops.
  5. Network. Networking is a crucial part of advancing in any field, and marketing is no exception. Attend industry conferences, join marketing associations, peer groups and connect with other marketing professionals. Networking can help you learn about new trends, job opportunities, and gain insights from experienced marketing leaders and will support your growth throughout your career.
  6. Be proactive. Take the initiative to lead marketing campaigns or projects within your organization, even if it’s not in your job description. This will demonstrate your leadership skills and your ability to drive results, raise your visibility and increase opportunities to expand your scope of responsibilities.
  7. Stay up-to-date. The marketing field is constantly evolving, and it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies (AI/ML, etc.), and best practices. Read industry publications, attend webinars and workshops, and participate in online marketing communities, forums, Slack channels. Give to get where appropriate.
  8. Be adaptable. The world of business is constantly changing, so it’s important to be adaptable and willing to learn new skills and strategies. Keep up with the latest business and marketing trends and technologies, and be willing to try new things. Test and learn. Iterate and improve. 
  9. Be results-oriented. As a CMO, you will be responsible and accountable for driving business growth through marketing and in partnership with all related functions. Focus on achieving measurable results and use data, analysis and insights to guide your decisions and strategies.
  10. Be at a supportive company.  In addition, ensure the marketing leader is personally committed to learning and development for the team. As you grow and progress, make sure to pick companies that genuinely support career growth with tools, courses and detailed guidance, and ideally, also have a formal mentoring program. I’m proud to say that at Billtrust, we do both.

Since becoming a head of marketing and, more recently a CMO mentor, I’m proud to say that 14 members of my marketing teams have progressed their careers to become CMO’s, so clearly developing talent is one of my passions.  Your unique path will include challenges and setbacks along the way.  Getting to your career goal requires hard work, dedication, patience, a few breaks and a great support system.  Even if you get a bit off track (COVID, work/life balance, restructuring, etc.), stay the course and keep focused on the ultimate goal.

In a future blog, I will cover how best to survive and thrive as a CMO.  In the meantime. I’ve covered some CMO pitfalls to avoid and best practices to adopt as a CMO in previous blogs.  Here’s to getting on a purpose-based, progressive path to your achieving your career goals!

Sales & Marketing Alignment

Align Marketing & Sales Teams to Improve Go-to-Market Success

I presented this topic at the recent CMO Connect conference. Working closely with my Sales counterparts has been a hallmark of my career since I became a CMO.  In fact, my second blog was entitled:  Sales and Marketing: Why can’t we all just get along?, so I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite awhile and, more importantly, working with colleagues to ensure mutual success.

In the talk, I cover strategies and tactics to create a unified Go-to-Market motion for Sales, Marketing and Customer Success. I delve into successful approaches to creating cross-functional alignment, designing winning strategies, overcoming obstacles, and achieving results.

Key takeaways include:

•         How to create a cohesive go-to-market motion – from strategy to alignment to execution

•         How to overcome obstacles by creating alignment when functions are working at cross purposes

•          Creating a “flying formation” with shared goals to build a unified team

The talk delves into two critical components of alignment and covers related topics to ensure a successful GTM motion:

  • Creating a Cohesive GTM Function
    • Mis-alignment is Common
      • Joint Planning and Shared Goal
      • Ramp for success via phased growth
    • Cross-functional Collaboration
  • Overcoming Obstacles to Alignment
    • Drive Alignment Across the Buyer’s Journey
    • Orchestrate Cross-functionally
    • Incorporate continuous Feedback
    • Measure Success to Maximize ROI

A recent survey conducted by Chief Outsiders among mid-market companies found that nearly one-third of C-suite executives noted a misalignment between their sales and marketing teams. Further, only one-third of that group reported that their sales and marketing teams were working toward a common set of goals.

This underscores the importance of making sure sales and marketing are aligned through all stages of the customer’s buying journey.  It’s also critical to have ongoing check-ins and reviews on progress towards goals and overall areas for improvement to ensure the teams stay in alignment and optimize outcomes.

If you’re interested in viewing this 20 min talk, it’s right here:

In more challenging economies, it is even more important than ever to work work closely with your counterparts to optimize outcomes and ensure mutual success! Here’s to aligning Sales & Marketing, better together!

Predictable Marketing in 2023

My prediction for 2023 is that marketing will be more predictable than ever. Meaning it will become easier to predict the outcomes of more marketing initiatives and investments than ever before due to advances in technology, especially predictive ones that can track customer behaviors and intentions through digital signals and other mechanisms.

For a simple definition of predicable marketing, I asked my new favorite bot, ChatGPT: “Predictable marketing is a method of marketing that relies on data and analytics to anticipate and meet the needs and preferences of customers. The goal of predictable marketing is to create a consistent, reliable, and predictable experience for customers by using data-driven insights to understand their behavior and tailor marketing efforts accordingly.

To achieve predictable marketing, companies often use a variety of tools and techniques, including customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation software, and data analytics platforms. These tools allow companies to collect and analyze data on customer interactions, preferences, and behaviors, and use that data to create targeted marketing campaigns and personalized experiences.

Predictable marketing can be effective because it allows companies to deliver relevant, valuable content and offers to their customers, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. It can also help companies to optimize their marketing efforts and improve their return on investment by targeting their efforts more effectively and reducing the risk of wasted marketing spend.”

This last paragraph is of course the “holy grail” of marketing: optimizing investments, programs and tactics to increase both marketing efficiency (ROI) and effectiveness (Impact). As a CMO for nearly 15 years, I’ve been compiling empirical data on what I’ve call “The ROI of Everything,” which is a data-driven approach to making marketing investments. It starts with a discipline to only spend dollars when outcomes can be modeled, measured and adapted to ensure optimal returns. A very simple one can be applied to an in person event or trade show investment by this equation: # of qualified leads x opportunity conversion % x close rate x ACV / event cost (including T&E) = >1.

For example, if one invests $10,000 for an event that products 100 leads, it might seem like a good investment on the surface, but it might not be. Here’s the math from a past one where my company exhibited. 100 leads x 10% conversion x 30% close x $3,000 ACV /$10,000 = .9, so this event ROI was less than one, not including T&E. Now there may be reason why a company would still attend the event, but it won’t produce a positive return relative to other investments, such as purely digital programs, which I’ve typically seen returns of at least 3:1, and sometimes much higher.

Ross Graber, principal analyst at Forrester, supports the idea of more predicable marketing: “Concerns about a recession and economic instability will push B2B companies to pursue more predictable growth strategies in 2023. These strategies will focus chiefly on existing customer growth, complemented by tightly targeted approaches to winning new business.” I would add that more companies will also hone their ICP (ideal customer profile), refine target segments and customer engagement strategies to increase focus, prioritize resources and improve outcomes.

One final thought on the minds of most marketers I know as we enter 2023: increasing contribution to pipeline, whether to acquire net new customers, or grow existing ones or both. This is always a hot topic due to the imprecise nature of attribution in complex B2B sales (e.g. characterized by larger buying committees, longer sales cycles and a wide range of selection criteria). During my first CMO tour of duty, I wanted to demonstrate marketing attribution, so I manually constructed the anatomy of a win by compiling all the Sales and Marketing touch points during the buyer’s journey. It was a very labor-intensive, time consuming task. Fast forward to the present and there are many platforms, such as Demandbase, 6Sense and ZoomInfo, that can track and document every interaction that either progresses a prospect from contact to close, or loses them at some point in the journey. What is great about these platforms is they can help galvanize Sales, Marketing, BDR/SDR organizations to align around more engaged prospects and in so doing increase overall GTM (go to market) efficiency. Gone are the days of “spray and pray”- let’s welcome in the era of plan, progress, and produce predictable pipeline and realize more revenue. Here’s to 2023, the year of #predictablemarketing.

Avoiding CMO Pitfalls – Part 2

In Part 1. I shared 7 common pitfalls for CMOs, including: Is this the Right Role?, Setting Expectations, Out of Alignment, Out of Step, Know the CEO, Board Meeting Misses, and The Honeymoon is Over!  In Part 2, I’ve enlisted a number of CMOs and CMO advisors to share some of their favorite pitfalls.  My hope is that you can either avoid most of the same mistakes entirely, or at least minimize their impact. 

Not have clarity over the scope of your role.  The the CMO is a very standard title for today’s head of marketing, not all roles have the same breadth of scope.  Some don’t have comms or Web site reporting into marketing.  Some don’t have analyst relations or, can you imagine, product marketing!  And most don’t have customer success, support or other key functions that touch the customer.  As Seth Godin says, CMO’s shouldn’t just be the Chief Hype Officer. He asserts: “If it touches the market, it’s marketing.”  That’s why CMO’s need  to stake out appropriate scope to support their charter and ensure they have the authority, budget and staff to succeed.

Over hiring to your strengths.  Jon Miller, CMO of Demandbase and former co-founder of Marketo, says: “Marketing is a complex function, typically spanning Demand Generation, Corporate Marketing, and Product Marketing at a minimum.  Every CMO comes to the function with a “major” in one of these areas and at best a “minor” in a second area — and a gap in the third.  A common pitfall is over-hiring into your major.  This happens since we know the most about that area and are most familiar with what’s needed.  But in reality, we need the strongest team in the areas where we are weakest, to complement our gaps.” I would add that as you hire to these other strengths, also ensure they are drivers and aim for continuous improvement to not only ensure success in year one, but on an ongoing basis.

Not in balance with the needs of the business.  As Ian Truscott says:  ”we need to balance our desire with doing the right thing from a pure marketing perspective and the needs and wants of the business. For example, we naturally want to be bold, to differentiate for our brands to stand out in the market, but the company needs to be with you as you take that path, as it probably requires a consensus for that level of change- if perceived as too much, it could result in the loss of C-suite and/or board support.”  If you have a commitment to long term brand building, it makes sense to have a dedicated branding budget, but not at the expense of meeting pipeline contribution needs.  Stay on balance and in sync as all times.

Market your marketing.   This is one I’ve heard from dozens of CMOs, who, despite doing great work, are often perceived as not contributing significantly to key goals and objectives.  As Kevin Doohan says, “there’s value in sharing marketing strategies, activities, and results with employees across the company. If I’m making a huge impact and driving business but the company at large doesn’t know, I could be in trouble. Marketing is the most second-guessed function and everyone thinks they’re an expert. Educating them on what we do and the tangible impact we make helps them become allies instead of critics.”

Not Nurturing C-Suite Partnerships – As Drew Neisser notes, “beyond building bonds with the CEO, CMOs are well-advised to nurture relationships with their C-suite counterparts especially the CFO, CRO and CHRO.  With the CFO, build metrics for success with them. You’ll know you’ve done it right when they come to you and say, “if I gave you another million, what could do with it?” With your CRO, start by presenting all data to your board together. Run all budgets and projections by them. Work with them to build a truly predictive revenue engine .And with your CHRO, work with them to define and build a crystal clear and empowering culture. You can’t grow if you can’t retain, attract and inspire great people.”

Inadequate measures to build credibility.  As Jon Russo notes, “measurement is tied to CMO credibility and getting measurement right matters.   Think of measuring ‘C’hannels (capital C) of your go-to-market motion vs. ‘c’hannels (lowercase c) of webinars, LinkedIn ads, events, etc.   The Channel (capital C) takes a more strategic approach.   The key dialogue in Channel measurement as a CMO is to lead a conversation around how Marketing is performing relative to all other go-to-market motions – which can range from Product Led Growth, Freemiums, SDR/BDR sourced, Sales sourced, Marketing sourced, Partner sourced, and/or referrals.  Reporting out on how Marketing contributes to the business in isolation isn’t enough context for non-marketing leaders and can be viewed as self-serving.   The contribution each Channel drives to the business (the combined go-to-market motion) can then help inform company leaders and the board how to best forecast future growth, where to best allocate resources as well as where to hire next.”

Forgetting why you chose Marketing in the first place.   I’ve met hundreds of CMOs in my career and almost to a personwhat draws people to this field is it’s a full brain function, requiring both right-brain (visual and intuitive) skills and left-brain (more analytical) thinking.  It’s an art and a science.  You have to be at once precise with numbers and grasp a wide range of ideas at the highest level of abstraction.  You need a both a command of technical information and to be creative enough to find solutions when none exist.  And most of all, you need to have fun in the process and make sure your team is also doing the same.  If this description doesn’t resonate, it may be time to rediscover your purpose, or perhaps pivot to another function that better suits your work style and preferences.

#CMO #GrowthScaler #CMOMentor #StrongerTogether

The 5 C’s for Modern CMOs- Part 2

Let’s face it, CMO’s love the letter C, so by popular demand, here’s part 2 and 5 more C’s for maximum impact:  Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Clarity, and Consistency.

If you missed part 1, the first 5 C’s for maximum impact are: Culture, Coaching, Campaigns, Category, and Courage:

Starting with the Creativity, this is the foundation for savvy marketers or some might say our raison d’etre. Many of us choose marketing as a career because we love to create something new, different, fun or provocative.  Especially when you are competing for share of mind and market vs. a much larger, established (but sometimes slow) brand, you need creative muscle to challenge the status quo.  Being creative is a way to wield more power than your size (think David vs. Goliath) and build momentum with a novel way, a new idea or a better articulation of a solution to unmet customer or market need.

Next is Communication, and shouldn’t every marketer excel at this?  I pride myself in the learned ability to improve all external communications, but equally as important is communicating effectively internally, within the C-suite, across the organization, and 1:1 with staff. It’s also the key to driving successful initiatives and getting through to any audience. I like to anchor all communications on clear, concise and compelling (ok I’m going crazy with C) messaging.  After all, that’s how you break through in a sea of sameness and become more attractive to potential buyers.

Collaboration is the 3rd C.  It may be a given that organizations that foster greater collaboration do better than those that don’t.  And now that we’ve all become inured to video collaboration, the ability to collaborate across to groups, teams, departments and divisions is expected- nevertheless, just participating in a Zoom call together is not tantamount to true collaboration. It requires good listening skills, empathy, understanding and effort.  Our innate self-interest must be set aside to foster greater cross-functional collaboration, and by pursuing this road less travelled, better organization adapts and learn to thrive via good human collaboration (#humanizework).

The 4th of 5 C’s Clarity.  First, thanks to @Drew Kiran for sharing that we need “clarity of our goals, mission and KPI’s.”  In addition, I just think clarify applies to most things in marketing:  GTM, Positioning, Messaging, ICPs, Personas, Purpose and Campaigns.   Clarity is what sets you apart and helps make a connection with customers, stakeholders and your market at large.

The 5th C for maximizing marketing’s impact is Consistency.  This is of course true for every aspect of marketing, consistent product marketing, demand generation, creative execution, messaging and content.   But above all else, consistency of brand expression is paramount.  It’s far too easy to vary the applications of brand identity and communication, and in so doing, dilute the brand.   What makes a brand distinct more than anything is repetition. Think about the best known and valued brands- they are exemplars of consistent design, expression, and personality, and in some cases, taglines (Just Do It).  That’s how we come to know and love the brands we do. #CMO #B2B #GrowthMarketing #CMOMentor

The 5 C’s for Modern CMOs

In today recessionary economy, you need to focus on the 5 C’s for maximum impact: Culture, Coaching, Campaigns, Category, and Courage.

Starting with the 1st of 5 C’s, Culture, marketing has a major impact fostering a vibrant company culture to help recruit and retain staff. Marketing 3.0 also shapes customer, prospect, partner & employees engagement.

The 2nd of 5 C’s for maximizing marketing’s impact is Coaching, from providing direction and development, to empowering, inspiring and course correcting- coaching is essential for successful CMOs, both with their direct reports and through all levels of the organization.

The 3rd of 5 C’s for maximizing marketing’s impact is Campaigns that build brand & generate demand together- delivering a diversity of lead sources to propel pipeline.  Increase response rates through message clarity and a compelling, quantitative value proposition that breaks thru and delivers ROI.

The 4th of 5 C’s is Category- think about how your company can pivot to redefine & reposition to win? @Emburse, it’s Spend Optimization, our differentiated offering with analytics and insights to help optimize spend and increase financial resilience.

The 5th C for maximizing marketing’s impact is Courage- marketing needs will, skill, fortitude, thick skin, boundless energy and creativity- but more than anything, in a sea of sameness, it takes courage to stake out with a differentiated brand promise- for Emburse, it’s HumanizeWork and deliver impactful initiatives that move the needle and alter trajectories.  

#CMO #CMOMentor #FullStackMarketer #Marketing3.0

Avoiding CMO Pitfalls

As a four-time CMO, I’ve made my share of mistakes, so I thought it would be helpful to share seven lessons learned in the hope that you can either avoid some of the same mistakes, or at least minimize their impact.

  1. Is this me? Let’s actually start with determining if the CMO role you are in or will be offered is right for you.  Just because the market and money are compelling, it still must feel right, and for me the company culture, management team and having shared values are more important than how exciting the opportunity appears.  Good times will come and go and when the going gets tough, is this a leadership team that can hold together and support one another or will it fray and eventually come unglued?
  2. Setting Expectations This is something that should be done ideally before you even start a new CMO role to ensure that what you are expected to do is in line with your expertise, and you have the budget and resources to deliver.   It’s also true that as companies grow and change, expectations also continue to change, so success requires that one is always calibrating and confirming what is expected so you can consistently deliver positive outcomes…which leads us to:
  3. Out of Alignment.  It should almost go without saying that the Go-to-market teams (Sales, Marketing, Channels, etc.) need to be in alignment.  I’ve often found that during the course of any given year, however, priorities can shift at a company or within one or more functions, and as a consequence, it’s easy to actually get out of alignment, which can cause perception or performance issues that require extra effort to rectify.  I mentor other heads of marketing who are earlier in the career trajectory and this is one area that I counsel to correct as fast as humanly possible.  Getting feedback is a given, what you do about determines how quickly you can regain alignment and get back on the path to long term success.
  4. Out of Step.  This one is somewhat related to the previous one, but it has more to do with the cadence of the business.  Some businesses operate in a very structured, formal fashion, and some are so agile and organic, it often feels like it’s run on the whim of the CEO/founder.  If your approach is to operate instinctively, the first type of operating environment is not for you.  Conversely, if you like everything documented in formal, inter-connected plans and like to review options in depth before taking action, the second cadence will be very unsettling and become intolerable over time.
  5. Know the CEO.   The world was different before COVID and a lot of us went to offices more regularly, and had exec team offsites and board dinners, which made it much easier to get to know the CEO you worked for.  Understanding their likes, dislikes, personal interests and so on can only help you with the important things noted above, such as meeting expectations, staying aligned, keeping in step and building a trusted relationship where you can give each other objective feedback and not get out of sync for very long.
  6. Board Meeting Misses.   Having attended more than 60 board meetings at both public and private companies, I’ve seen a little of everything, but the worst thing for a CMO (other than getting fired) is to make a presentation or share results that don’t go over well.   The best advice I got after a particularly tough meeting was to develop a couple of board member allies, who along with the CEO, can coach you to ensure that your viewpoint, data and topical discussions will be well received, and thus help build your credibility, rather than diminish it.
  7. The Honeymoon is Over. The cold reality is that the average tenure of a CMO is still around 3 years (pat yourself on the back if you’ve passed that milestone), and while everyone generally gets a one year honeymoon, it doesn’t last forever. I recall in my 2nd annual review with a CEO he said bluntly “you didn’t do as good of job as your first year.”  The feedback didn’t feel good, but he was right, and I took it to heart to re-commit to making an even bigger impact in year 3 as in year 1. 

In summary, it’s a hard job, so don’t go it alone.  I’ve been a part of CMO peer groups since first becoming a CMO over a decade ago and I find them to be invaluable.  The ones I’m involved in most recently are the CMO Huddles, The CMO Club and CMO Coffee Talk.  Also, if you find yourself in need of a coach, Drew Neisser of Renegade Marketing has a vetted list of 7 coaches #CMO #CMOMentor #GrowthAdvisor #HelpEachOther

The CMO 3.0 Playbook, Part 2

In the CMO 3.0 Playbook, Part 1, I discussed how CMO’s should have a concrete game plan for the first 100 days, and the key competencies and areas of focus that are essential for leading high-performance marketing organizations.  In part 2, I will share more advice on constructing a modern CMO playbook. 

Last fall, I was fortunate to be part of the CMO Club’s Peer Advisory Board brought together to discuss how CMOs can maximize the impact they have across the lifespan of their role.   We outlined four broad CMO playbook areas of impact: the role of marketing, cutting about the noise, building an impactful team and driving results and accountability.  While all four of these are important, I would argue that the last two, building and retaining a strong team, and delivering measurable results, are even more important in the post-COVID era.

Some of our insights were shared in a Forbes article entitled How Can Marketing Leaders Maximize Their Impact Now And In The Future? by David Benjamin and David Komlos. The authors talked about the importance of having a very strong network of peers to help CMO navigate dynamic markets, especially during turbulent times.  According to Gabriel Cohen, CMO of Monigle: “…relationships with other CMOs enable you to pick up the phone and call someone about something you might be struggling with, and to give back to them when they need your advice. That’s how you become better.”  Ever since I first became a CMO, I’ve been part of strong peer groups that continue to inspire and support me in the unending quest to increase the value of the CMO and marketing.                     

The demands on the CMO are changing as a result of the pressing need to increase business impact.  According to John Ellett, Senior Partner at Prophet, the ability to build a high performance team is more important than ever.  He cites Jennifer Ross, VP and senior research director, CMO Strategies at Forrester: …”leaders must start with defining the capabilities needed to achieve the desired outcomes. That list isn’t short – augment customer insights, enhance brand relevance, generate demand, drive leads, improve conversions, create better customer experiences, launch new products, energize channel partners, enable sellers, optimize media spend, engage employees, open new markets and host successful events, all by developing stimulating content and leveraging the martech stack.”  All of these competencies, and more, are required for a modern CMO to deliver more measurable impact.

Today, many CMO’s are even broadening their roles by taking on specific additional functions that do not traditionally report into the head of Marketing, such as Chief Customer Experience Officer, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Product Officer.  Whether a CMO seeks to expand their designated areas of responsibility, or not, I feel that almost all CMO’s should operate as Chief Growth Orchestrators.  To drive growth, CMO’s need to have exceptional cross-functional collaboration skills, be great change agents and align and motivate other functions to achieve extraordinary outcomes and outsized returns.  While It’s critical to have a playbook to win in the global economy, and the pressure to succeed is relentless, I truly believe there’s never been a better time to be in marketing and a CMO.   Here’s to raising the game!  #CMOPlaybook #CMOMentor #ChiefGrowthOrchestrator #CMO