Most blogs and articles tell you how to avoid worrying about this and that.
This blog is different.
With the shortest tenure of any of the C-suite positions, Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) instinctively worry and the list of concerning issues is vast. Rapid changes in customers, technology, data privacy and more make it a very challenging time to be in marketing.
However, here are 5 good ideas for CMOs to really focus on:
1. Customer Research. Everywhere you turn, the focus is on the customer experience. However, you can’t improve the customer experience until you have deep insight into your customer. Unfortunately, one of the first line-items to get cut in any budgeting exercise is market and customer research. After all, why fund this when you can go to 3 more events and collect some business cards and give our stress balls. CMOs must make sure they have ample budget and resources to conduct the right customer research to fully understand the customer’s buying preferences, habits and processes.
2. Data Quality. Every day, you’re making decisions based upon the data in your marketing systems/applications. However, how “fresh” is that data?
Do you have an automated way to update the data to keep track of people who change titles or switch jobs? Do you have an enrichment strategy to reliably add phone numbers and email addresses to event attendee lists? How to you ensure that data that is entered by sales or other customer-facing teams is entered properly and consistently? Without solid strategies to address these issues, even a pristine CRM or Marketing Automation implementation can turn to garbage in an amazingly short timeframe. If this requires the CMO to become “buddy-buddy” with the IT team and CIO, so be it. Which brings me to my next point…
3. C-Suite Alignment. Not only does Marketing need a proverbial “seat at the table”, CMOs need to be tightly aligned with other execs. The two most frequently mentioned are the CEO and the CRO or head of sales. However, having a close tie with the CFO is critical; CMOs need to provide CFOs with transparency into their marketing spend and ROI in a proactive manner. Additionally, CMOs need to have a tight relationship with CIOs and CTOs since more and more of the CMOs work involves MarTech and AdTech systems, data, integrations and leveraging AI/machine learning for deeper insight.
4. Go-to-Market Consistency. Is marketing spending and allocating resources in a manner that is 100% aligned with Sales and the GTM strategy? Is the split between large, medium and small accounts aligned? Is the spend across geographies aligned with where the company is expecting to see revenue and growth? Is the marketing investment across routes-to-market aligned with the sales and partner strategy? As the year progresses, it is easy for this to become misaligned and needs to be something continually reviewed.
5. Innovation. Sometimes it is easy to get so wrapped up in trying to “make the number” and meet all of the different demands that you’re simply not innovating. It isn’t that you don’t want to innovate; it’s just that innovation takes an investment of time and sometimes money too. Marketing is evolving so quickly that if you’re daily, weekly and quarterly plans don’t clearly involve some type of innovation, you’re falling behind. CMOs should make sure their plans clearly highlight areas of innovation and the results these new approaches and technologies are generating.
It’s never popular to add “To-Do’s” to someone with an already-heavy workload. However, these five areas are critical to both the short- and long-term success of every CMO.