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

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