Learn the ABCs of CMOs

To be a CMO today, you need the ABCs -- agility, bullishness, and customer-centricity. The ABCs of a CMO are both for how to work internally with your team and peers as well as externally to build your brand and drive revenue.

Let’s take one at a time.

A is for Agility

With the changing landscape of technology from desktop, to laptop, to mobile and tablet, it can be hard for even the savviest CMO to stay abreast with it all. Adopting an agile approach can help with this. 

Responsive alone doesn't cut it in the experiences you create on different devices. You must be adaptive. Think through how an audience will experience your brand and tailor your content for that audience and that delivery channel. By developing work streams that allow you to execute in sprints, your brand will be able to show quick wins in a fail-fast manner.

Don’t wait for perfection in each channel, shoot for iterative improvements along the way. Tom Wujec highlights this skill in the “marshmallow challenge” TED Talk.  He explains how kindergarten students excelled at building a spaghetti tower with a marshmallow on top because they had no fear. They improved iteratively along the way -- and kept the marshmallow top of mind as they developed different prototypes.

Apply this agile principal as a CMO, to build great brand experiences for your audiences, no matter the device.

Internally, CMOs have to be able to communicate to their most likely distributed staff in a way that keeps them informed, motivated and empowered. Think about what method of communication is best for each person: face-to-face one-on one meetings, phone catch ups, emails, grabbing lunch or coffee, etc. Use all the communication channels you have at our disposal to communicate effectively to your staff.

When a staff member walks into your office or by your desk, you need to put down whatever it is you are working on to answer their question, provide clarification, give guidance or offer coaching. Agile leadership includes accessibility and approachability.

Put your team first, and watch them grow in confidence to carry out your vision. Pivoting like this takes practice, but it’s a skill worth honing.

B is for Bullishness

Know your annual objectives. Know the goals you need to achieve to meet those objectives. And have a clear vision of what you need to do to stay on target.

This focused approach is rooted in data/insights and strategy. Instead of a million projects going on at once buoyed with a hope and prayer that they finish with a positive ROI or be completed at all, execute a few smart initiatives. Set yourself up to meet your targets with this approach – whether revenue, social engagement, lead generation, brand awareness, etc.

People from all over the organization will come to you with the next great marketing idea (because everyone thinks they can do marketing). A CMO listens to these ideas, but remains a bit bullish about sticking to the created plan that will yield the ROI to meet targets. Don’t be a pushover. Explain why you are doing the activities you are doing and what the return is or will be.

(Don’t get me wrong. If there is a change to your environment which takes you off plan, remember A is for Agile.)

Sending a weekly marketing update email to all employees keeps the good work of marketing top of mind. Communication like this helps keep “moonlight marketers” at bay and builds the marketing department’s brand for delivering in a measurable way.

C is for Customer-Centric

Customer-centricity is the key to setting your brand apart. It doesn't matter if you are B2C or B2B: stellar brand experiences gets people talking about you on Yelp, Glassdoor, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

If you know your customers’ journey with your brand and how to manage those touchpoints with a consistent and contextually relevant experience, you will develop life-long customers. Customers that will sing your praises and be your brand evangelists. Isn’t that what all CMOs want?

Marketing serves at the pleasure of the business. Listen to business requirements, then return with suitable solutions, in an appropriate timeline, for an agreeable budget. And all done with a smile on your face. If you build a department of good service, you are also building an internal brand for your department. One that others will want to be a part of and one that is credible and empowered.

People often tell me that my job looks easy. What people forget is that while the duck is coasting up stream his feet are feverishly paddling below the water. No one needs to know how fast you are paddling. Stay customer-centric, hit your targets and drive revenue with a productive, smart, happy team behind you.

While ABCs mean back to basics, agility, bullishness, and customer-centricity will keep CMOs on the path to success.

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