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: https://bit.ly/3BFQ7kl

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 https://renegade.com/blog/top-b2b-cmo-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

The CMO 3.0 Playbook, Part 1

We are now in what is often called Web 3.0, the third generation of the evolution of web technologies, so it only makes sense that we should also think about what it means to be a CMO 3.0.   In the early days, a head of marketing, or CMO, could rise to the top and generally remain there, with strength in one or two primary areas of expertise, such and brand and communications, demand, or products.   By the early 2010s, a one-dimensional approach was insufficient to lead a data and digitally-driven, dynamic organization.   The successful CMO 2.0 had embraced the Web, social and digital personas and commanded a much wider range of skills across the entire marketing discipline, from brand to demand to products, and also digital and Web, marketing operations and analytics, customer insights, the growing Martech stack, strategic communications, inside sales, partner marketing and so much more.

In their eBook, The CMO Playbook: Getting Off to a Strong Start as a New Chief Marketing Officer, the authors recommend: “The first 100 days in a new position is a unique window of opportunity before you become fully entrenched in the demands of the role. Getting off to a fast start (and preparing before day one) can earn your CEO and organizations confidence and give you the momentum to achieve great long-term performance. We have seen many successful marketing leaders follow this tried-and-true 8-point plan:”

  • Prepare yourself during the countdown
  • Align expectations
  • Shape your marketing team
  • Craft your strategic agenda
  • Start transforming culture
  • Manage your boss
  • Communicate
  • Avoid common pitfalls

In a recent Cap Gemini report entitled A New Playbook for Chief Marketing Officers, the authors noted “we believe six focus areas are critical to ensuring CMOs are prepared for the future in a data-driven marketing environment:

Create a clear vision for the marketing strategy; Implement a framework-driven data-collection process; Ensure talent is equipped with a baseline of data and creative skills while allowing for specialists; Accelerate collaboration across the marketing ecosystem; Reimagine the customer journey with real-time engagement; and Integrate long-term brand.” building and short-term marketing engagements.

In my interview with Alan Hart of Marketing Today, I shared a modern day perspective on The 5 Cs of Marketing and the associated CMO Playbook,, including culture, coaching, campaigns, category, and courage.  While all five are critical to leading a high performance marketing organization, I would argue the culture, coaching and courage are most important.  

Let’s start with culture- in the post-COVID hybrid-work environment, it’s so important to not only choose the right culture, but to join one where the CMO can help shape it in a positive manner.  I have been privileged to be part of Emburse’s executive leadership team for nearly three years and over that time, I’ve influenced the evolution of our core SEEIT values: Sincerity, Empathy, Empowerment, Individuality, and Teamwork.

I’ve also been able to coach and shape my team, both in term of who we hire, how we recognize and reward achievements, and who we promote. It’s helped us create a very supportive and simultaneously high performance team.

Lastly, having the courage of one’s convictions, to stick to your priorities and plans, gain cross-functional buy-in for key initiatives, take appropriate risk, and stand your ground if you face unreasonable push back or criticism.   All this takes courage.   I’ll share more CMO Playbook insights in part 2.

Managing change and keeping teams motivated in turbulent times

Even as COVID cases have been diminishing in many parts of the world, the dual challenge of generationally high inflation rates and stock markets bobbing in and out of correction territory are enough to make an already weary staff even more anxious about what’s to come in the future. Below are a few tips on how to navigate a variety of change challenges resulting from: business disruption, economic uncertainty, acquisition integration, and growth; which will also help you attract and retain high performance staff. For each challenge, I will share a variety of approaches that can help teams adapts, maintain a sense of calm amidst the storm and most importantly, continue to motivate your teams and help them manage through multiple change curves successfully.

BUSINESS DISRUPTION

Like most companies, Emburse has been experiencing business disruption on a continuous basis, starting with the outbreak if COVID in 2020 and continuing into a very uncertain economic climate in 2022.

Having the right attitude and approach makes a huge difference in business outcomes. In early 2020, just prior to COVID, we created a new set of values for the company that has brought everyone together and helped us navigate through a wide variety of challenges. The SEE IT core values – Sincerity, Empathy, Empowerment, Individuality, and Teamwork – have been fully embraced across every function and role and for ore than two years now. We regularly recognize how staff are living these values in very concrete and impactful ways via our internal and external social channels, bringing us closer together as one unified company with a common purpose to Humanize Work.

ACQUISITION/INTEGRATION

In May 2015, Lexmark purchased Kofax and merged it with Perceptive and Readsoft, creating a unique combination of very different cultures. The biggest marketing challenge became integrating one sizable team of nearly 300 staff within a new marketing structure, as the nexus of control over the software business had shifted for many from the Kansas City, MO area to Irvine, California. I sensed a lot of the team based in Kansas City felt they might be removed from the decision making path, and thus feel like second-class citizens. So I created an organizational development approach and structure that blended talents from around the world was able to elevate and integrate widely dispersed teams from all locations.

Using work-streams, new cross-business unit groups were formed around key marketing functions such as demand generation, marketing operations and product marketing. We documented the various business practices across the portfolio, workshopped to find best practices and accommodate what could be done differently for certain customer segments and geos, mapping out the integration milestones and deliverables over time.  Organizational teams were also blended such that a manager might be in one city, and the team in another to better foster a sense of “one team” across all boundaries. Over the course of the first year, we were able to sustain a very high level of engagement and very low attrition and I attribute that to the people-focused and structural approach of being “inclusive” and empathy that our marketing leadership team expressed in finding common ground with the newest team members. This may seem standard operating procedure now in the Zoom hybrid world, but at that time, it was not a given that remote work could actually work on a sustained basis!

GROWTH

During my tenure at Pega, the company grew from around $200+ million to over $500 million and in that time, the marketing team also more than doubled. As the team grows larger and meets its objectives, it remains a challenge to both managing and motivating the team on a sustained basis. As we reached each successive milestone, the expectations for performance were increasing and I found that some folks were not able to keep pace.

Roles changed and new people were hired. For some, it became time to move on. The evolving position requirements outgrew their natural development path, comfort zone or preferred organizational size. While some left and new people came in, ultimately the organically evolved team was not only able to keep pace, but also increased measurable contributions to the business.

ADAPT TO CHANGE AND FOSTER THE RIGHT BEHAVIORS

In addition to having strong core values, like the SEEIT ones described above, one of the ways I’ve been able to help my teams navigate successfully through change curves is to establish a peer-based recognition system that recognize and reward team members to adopting the right behaviors to help drive business growth and deliver better outcomes.

In order to foster better team performance, most of the marketing recognition programs I’ve deployed foster these behaviors:

  • Customer Focus/Pipeline Contribution
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Innovation/Process Improvement
  • Communication/Brand Champions
  • Taking Initiative/Effective Leadership
  • Adapting to Change/Digital Savvy

And, during challenging times like these,  it’s also important to adhere to a few key principles and “walk the walk”:

  • Foster the right behaviors
  • Increase communication
  • Get together whenever possible
  • Start/continue recognition programs
  • Maintain a sense of humor and have some fun!
  • Prioritize and stay focused
  • Be present and empathetic
  • Be authentic and human

I’m often said, change is inevitable, so either you embrace change and get comfortable with the fluid nature of business and organizational structures, or it’s going to a much rougher ride through the constant waves of changes that now seem unrelenting.

And finally, take the time to get to know everyone on your staff, meet virtually, in person and in hybrid configurations as often as possible; be understanding of the unique challenges everyone is facing, and have a lot of fun in the process. This type of approach will greatly increase staff engagement and retention. Happy adapting, ever and always!

Don’t just expense it, Emburse it!

It’s no longer good enough to give your team outdated, complex software solutions just because that’s the way it’s always been. It’s time to empower your team with modern spend management solutions.

“It’s OK – I’ll expense it,” used to be a mantra of business travelers around the world when picking up the tab. The drawbacks of being away on a trip were somewhat mitigated by the ability to charge everything back to the company. 

That was fine until time came to, well, expense it. That meant digging out receipts and maybe the accompanying credit card slips, filling in the spreadsheet, mailing it off, and then sending it to your finance department. After a few weeks of radio silence, you’d get a check from the company. 

Things have generally gotten better since then. The spreadsheet has mainly been replaced by a software program, and instead of mailing hard copies, you can take pictures of receipts and then upload them to start the reimbursement cycle. It’s often still pretty painful though. Clunky software that still needs far too much manual input, and an inefficient approval process that can delay reimbursement.

Watch: How do you Emburse it? Make your expense process even easier.

It should be easier than this. And it is. Instead of just expensing it, you can empower your employees to Emburse it. Provide them with the Emburse Spend policy-backed corporate card which automatically integrates with the expense solution so they can simply make a purchase, be prompted to capture a receipt image, and Emburse it. Everything else is done automatically on the back end, and in real time. No more creating expense reports. No more verifying if spend is in policy. No more manual entry into the payroll or accounting system. 

The same applies to invoices. The days of having to send hard copy or emailed invoices through the approval chain are in the past. Check runs need to be consigned to the history books. Juggling invoices to see which needs to be approved fastest isn’t just inefficient, it also misses huge opportunities for discounts and rebates.

Watch: Learn how you can make accounts payable straightforward when you Emburse it.

Emburse is the modern way to optimize spend. We empower businesses with trusted expense management, AP automation, corporate card and payment solutions so they can focus on what matters most. If you process expenses, invoices and/or payments, or use purchase card, you can now simply Emburse it and get everything done in a more intuitive, user friendly, and productive manner.

If instead of time-consuming, manual processes, you simply Emburse it, it’ll not only make your employees happier, but also deliver huge time and productivity efficiencies, better insights for more informed decision- making, and very tangible financial value for your organization.  Now more than ever, it’s time to Emburse it!

Who Owns the Customer?

In most companies, if you ask this question, you’ll often hear “we’re customer driven, so of course everyone owns the customer.”  The problem is that when everyone owns the customer, no one actually does. This lack of true customer ownership is in part caused by the fact that most companies are organized along functional lines (i.e., sales, marketing, customer success, support, finance, etc.), so it’s naturally difficult to achieve a true cross-functional approach that enables the organization to holistically manage the customer relationship.

What complicates the goal of customer ownership further is that each functional area often has disparate systems and databases that gather and store customer information.  Moreover, those areas do not consolidate that info in a meaningful way.  Traditionally, CRM software has become the system of record to best address the customer data silos challenge, to try to unify sales, customer success. service and marketing information for the promised 360 degree view of the customer .  For many reasons, this data-centric approach has largely failed. Just combined databases, not an easy task for sure, does not incorporate a full picture of customer behaviors, attitudes. interests and intents, which are more the collective gestalt of their interactions across all venues and touch points, from Web site behavior, to on-line community activity, user group feedback, voice of customer insights, and of course social media communications.

There are a wide variety of technologies, from ABM to intent signals to AI that are extending the CRM paradigm to address these gaps and aggregate more customer information into a consolidated and contextual database.  While most often, companies updating their CRM systems are promised a 360-degree view of customers across say marketing, sales, and customer success, the reality is that the customer experience is far broader than a database, it’s the sum total of every interaction with the company, from Zoom calls to customer forums to industry events and social media. This makes it particularly challenging to bring all the relevant customer information together, and creates an organizational and/or structural gap that inhibits customer centricity because there is no function truly empowered or accountable for the customer.

There are various organizational approaches that companies have chosen to attempt to solve this operational dysfunction.  Some companies have appointed a chief Customer Experience Officer, a Customer Loyalty Officer, or a Chief Customer Officer.  These executives typically have either an organizational responsibility or an advisory role. In the former case, the “customer owner” who has staffing and budgetary resources is much better equipped to drive the organizational changes required to effect meaningful change in how the customer is managed.  In the latter case, an advisory position that has the mission to drive customer centricity, but lacks staffing and budget, will struggle to effect change even if the individual is part of the senior executive team.  The may depend in a large part on the influential or personal power of the individual chartered to “own” customer experience, loyalty, etc., however, without direct control over people, budgets and systems, the gravitational pull of functional imperatives to, for example, do what’s right for sales, marketing, or service, adhering to an “inside-out” company goal directive (vs. an “outside-in” customer approach) inhibits the advisory executive’s impact on customer centricity.

What’s a company to do when there is no designated companywide customer owner?  It is still possible to begin the journey towards customer centricity by aligning functional objectives across two or more functions, such as sales, marketing, and customer success.  Someone needs to at least own the cross-functional responsibility to ensure that goals and benchmarks are established, and regular measurements (such as continuous or periodic tracking) are taken to record progress against the stated objectives.  In many companies, since marketing owns key elements of the customer experience (e.g., communications, Web, social media, customer advocacy and loyalty programs), it is the most likely group to lead the effort to align functional groups and drive initiatives to integrate customer management.  Customer ownership is a journey that has to start somewhere, and it often starts with one person raising their hand to tackle the inherent structural impediments of functional organizations vs. customer centric ones.  Anyone game?