Four Things Successful CMOs Must Master

The average lifespan of a CMO is now about 42 months. To survive, it is critical to learn from the mistakes of others who have failed if you want to extend your timeline. We have spoken with hundreds of CMOS and marketers over the years and when it comes to being a CMO in the digital age, there are 4 things to embrace in order to be successful.


When starting a new role as a CMO for an existing brand or a new organization there are high expectations. Expectations that the company will turn around for the better because of this new addition to the team. This is not always the case. CMOS want to make their mark and show that they will bring a positive change to the organization.


Some do this by ripping apart the current marketing strategy or infrastructure, redesigning the website or pursuing a rebrand. Often times these tactics work – and more often they don’t…unless there is a true strategy behind it. We spoke with a company recently that has done three rebrands and redesigns of their website in the past four years! Guess what, they are looking to do another brand transformation since they will be bringing on their fourth CMO. Yikes.


Strategies need to be analyzed and shifted from time to time. Messages might need to be changed. If strategy and messaging are in the right place, implementation of innovation and technology would be on the top of the list of positive changes. Your competition is using these tools to reach your audience too.


Whether it is comprehending deep customer analytics, reaching out to new and current audiences on social and digital platforms or the creation of seamless engagement experiences, the ultimate goal is to get the brand closer to the consumer.


1. CMO = The New Technologist


Expectations are that the CMO will spend more on technology in 2017 and 2018 than the CIO. The technology available today is helping to drive customer loyalty and expanded brand value. Technology is evolving constantly and marketing technology has grown exponentially. Technology now enables marketers of all sizes to be more efficient and focused, but it doesn’t replace strategy and planning.


Knowing and believing in your strategy and using new and proven technologies to help bridge the gaps where you are falling short is where you should place your focus. The CMO needs to understand all the latest technologies that are available. They will need to test aggressively to see what works. For success, “tech-savvy” needs to be next to your CMO title. CMO’s need to start acting like a Chief Information and Technology Officer.


The advancements in analytics and understanding the user journey are bringing brands closer to their consumers. The CMO of today needs to understand and comprehend the latest in marketing software, social media and mobile platforms, data and analytics and last but not least, the hub of all your digital efforts, the brand’s website. Does it have the right message? Is it speaking to your target audience? Does it have the right calls to action?


2. Live In The Age Of The Customer


One of the biggest challenges for a CMO is finding and fishing in the right pond that your target audience is swimming in. Knowing who your customers are, where they are spending a majority of their time online, which social media channels they are using the most can be a frustrating task. Successful CMOs go beyond the top of the funnel interactions and truly want to understand the entire customer lifecycle. With all the disruption technologies, the user journey has never been more important than it is today.


CMOS that are effective are obsessed with knowing about the brand engagement experience. They are data-driven CMOs. By continually and regularly analyzing the data, interpreting that data and transforming it into actionable insights, a CMO’s digital marketing strategy will become clear. In order to get a solid understanding of your customers and what makes them tick, analytics are critical and will help the CMO and his/her team to understand the emerging trends in the market and then take the appropriate action.


From this, the team will be able to discover some of the emotional and technical needs of the customer, which will help drive better marketing campaigns and outreach. The CMO needs to become a data scientist and at the same time follow their gut instincts.


3. Be Open Ideas To New Ideas Unlikely Places


When it comes to marketing, the options of where to spend your marketing budget can be endless. The new breed of CMO is experimenting with new channels to reach customers and prospects. Brands now have the ability to listen to what their customer has to say in real time and then respond just as quickly. But some of the ideas of where to market and how to market to your audience are coming from unlikely places. 


More and more organizations are getting everyone involved and participating from the CEO down to the recent millennial hires. Get the entire organization involved. From customer service to sales to operations, there is a lot of ongoing engagement with your customers from these teams that could lead to some great ideas on how to better reach your client base. Don’t leave any rock unturned.


Great organizations are listening to their employees about different ideas on how to make the business more efficient, creative ways to market the brand and more importantly using this opportunity to grow the “we are all in this together” attitude that so many companies truly lack. CMOS need to be leaders and visionaries and have an open mind.


4. Join The Dark Side = Sales


Recently, while attending Martech in Boston a few weeks back, our team at WDB agency was part of a discussion regarding how sales and marketing desperately need this alignment in order to survive. The companies that are succeeding understand this. We heard from various CMOs and sales leaders who echoed the same sentiment. They need to work together and collaborate with sales for success.


According to a recent Aberdeen study, 74% of best-in-class organizations have “complete or strong” marketing-sales alignment. What is even more alarming – 90% of marketers say that lack of sales and marketing alignment keeps them from reaching their marketing objectives.


CMOS are now expected to think like Chief Revenue Officers too! CMOS, when it comes to the C-suite, have the highest turnover rates. One of the main reasons for this turnover is due to poor design of the CMO role. CEO expectations are high and often times the business goals aren’t aligned with the marketing goals, or the performance metrics and marketing goals are unrealistic.


A CMO’s role should be focused on marketing strategy, overall brand strategy, and implementation. Helping to spearhead and grow a company’s sale innovation efforts as well as overseeing traditional and digital efforts in order to create revenue-growing engagements with customers is also being expected of them. But the expectations for CMOs to then take on sales pricing and management or product development on top of it all seems like a ton to ask for one person.


But for a CMO to be successful, they need to be working with the sales team consistently to understand their pain points, where the messaging is falling short and most importantly aligning with the business and sales goals of the organization. 


Often times, sales and marketing are working against each other by not communicating or they are not willing to listen to ideas coming from one team to the other. 


Join forces with sales. The Dark side isn’t so bad.



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