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Survive and Boost Your Position as a CMO

By now you’ve heard the statistics — the average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) lasts less than two years in the job. They have the world’s largest collection of headhunter Christmas cards. Realtors and moving companies keep them on speed dial.

You’ve also heard the statistics about online marketing — budgets are up, web traffic and searches are increasing, business sites and landing pages are growing by the millions. From the boardroom to the sales desk, expectations are rising. And your future is inevitably tied to these often unrealistic standards.

How CMOs survive in the age of disruption

It doesn’t have to be. CMOs can improve their chances of surviving and thriving in their new positions by addressing the needs of the boardroom, CEO, and CFO with a steady flow of information they can understand and use; and by creating a corporation-wide buy-in of the company’s annual online marketing efforts, including agreed upon:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Strategy for reaching those goals
  • Resources to implement the marketing plan
  • Fair and logical metrics for measuring success
  • Reliable analytic tools and assistance
  • Latitude to adjust tactics
  • Opportunity to package and present results

Consider your metrics

What actions and strategies will help CMOs put metrics to work for them? Once you get systems deployed, how do you make piles of profit out of mounds of data? What follows are ten key strategies – plus a bonus.

Create a benchmark

You need a starting point. What are your market position, name recognition, search engine keyword positions, website traffic, conversion rates, sales, profits, et cetera? And you need to address the challenges of measuring intangibles when choosing your metrics. If you worry that having a benchmark may show that nothing happened, then you’re worrying about the wrong thing.

Explore the universe

The breadth of data and analytic tools available today could not have been envisioned even five years ago. Survey the universe of what’s possible in analytics before you settle on the best means of finding out what works and what does not.

One size does not fit all

Select metrics that make sense for your current employer, not your last one. If you’re now selling funeral plots, for example, forget the customer retention metrics you used peddling t-shirts. A B2B enterprise probably doesn’t care about gross visits, and they look for lead generation; to a retailer conversions mean everything.

Measure the vital, not the easy

You may have inherited some irrelevant metrics that need updating. If the current system does not let you track sales and transaction figures relative to a specific promotion, keyword or campaign, for example, raise a red flag. The system needs to be changed.

Keep it simple

The moment that sales moved online, a data explosion occurred. The possibilities for analysis are overwhelming and potentially paralyzing. Don’t let them be. Boil your metrics down to what is most important for measuring progress toward meeting your goals. Unless you’re an expert with time on your hands, hire a firm that regularly integrates analytics into successful online marketing.

Seek out operations

Operations have to justify many kinds of expenditures to management. They may use some metrics related to ROI, et cetera which could tell you what kind of information the corporate decision-makers are accustomed to seeing.

Consider your audience

Are you touting conversions when the CFO is looking at profits and sales? Collect the information you need to track and adjust your marketing program, but disseminate only the knowledge that your audience will find relevant.

Get management buy-in

As tempting as it is to hide the magic behind the curtain, you get longer-lasting internal support by involving management throughout your marketing planning, implementation, measurement, and adjustment process.

Keep asking: what’s important?

In the fast-paced world of online marketing, it’s easy to lose the compass. Set up a time each month to step back and reassess: is what we are doing the best way to get us where we want to go?

Revise and conquer

It is so tempting — you have done your lobbying-best to get management’s buy-in for your online marketing plan, so why make changes just because your latest campaign failed to perform? Fix it and tell them why; at the end of the day you’re being measured by the results of your actions, not the actions themselves.

Get help

Ironically, the more some CMOs need help, the less likely they are to ask. The real talent in being a successful CMO is knowing the questions to ask. Share that philosophy with management during your interview and repeat it often after you come on board.

Social Business Networking Brings Significant Commercial Benefits

Business and networking are a natural combination. The term ‘networking’ is a relatively new name given to an activity that successful business leaders have used for generations – building a wide range of contacts to whom they can turn for a variety of commercial and social reasons.

The connection between effective networking and business success is explained in the well-known sales phrase: “People buy from people.” There is considerable truth in this because, as naturally social beings, we generally prefer to buy from individuals with whom we have a relationship.

This fact has been obscured by modern retailing, where we have become used to purchasing from large faceless organizations, either in stores or over the internet. However, these are typically low-value transactions and when it comes to more significant purchases most of us prefer a stronger element of human contact.

Business and Networking Success Takes Time

The business owner wanting to leverage networking to achieve success must be prepared to invest time in the process, and they need to understand that they will not see results immediately.

Networking requires time because it is based on relationships being established and developed. The process of creating a relationship does not have to take very long — a five-minute conversation is enough to confirm contact with someone and to exchange cards. Speed networking events take this to an extreme, with networkers being given only a minute or two in which to explain what they do before moving on.

Shared experiences with other business ownersDeveloping the relationship will take longer, and it could be months or even years before it brings tangible commercial benefits. Some relationships will never bring a benefit, but it is impossible to tell at the outset which ones will be the most fruitful. It can also be difficult to measure the benefit of many relationships because networking often leads to referrals, but the business owner cannot always be sure who has referred new customers to them.

Business and Networking Success is Built on Trust

Trust is a vital component in commerce. People buy from organizations that they trust, and that trust is built over time by delivering a consistent quality of service.

Networking is also founded on trust. When individuals meet in a networking environment, they exchange ideas and information, and much of this is taken in good faith. However, the information is usually validated by speaking with other people.

For example, someone who needs their car repaired might talk to a vehicle mechanic who explains that they do work on behalf of many local people, implying that they are well-regarded. The individual with a car might then speak with someone else and them whether they use that particular mechanic.

The reply they receive can significantly alter their perceptions — they might be told “No, he’s not very reliable” or “Yes, he provides excellent service for a great price.” Both comments contain valuable information, and although they are highly subjective and represent only one person’s view, they could directly affect whether the mechanic gets the business.

Trust is won over time and can be lost very quickly. This is another reason why having a strong network benefits business because most organizations will have the occasional failure and dissatisfied customer. However, they will usually have many more satisfied customers, and a strong network will help with promoting the positive messages.

Networking is not a mysterious activity conducted in highly orchestrated ‘networking events.’ It is the day to day process of talking to people, listening to what they have to say and sharing news and information. A proactive approach to networking should deliver commercial and social benefits in the long term.