Navigating Challenges and Achieving Quick Wins
Navigating the initial 90 days as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) can be a make-or-break period. This challenging journey often involves establishing trust, performing gap analyses, and executing a comprehensive strategy. Here’s a structured approach to make your first three months as a CMO count.
1. Building Allies and Educating Leadership
Understanding the Role: Many view the CMO’s role as primarily focused on advertising or social media. However, the reality is far more complex. It’s crucial to educate leadership about the essential elements of marketing, often returning to the basics: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
Trust and Understanding: A lack of trust and understanding often plagues CMOs. Red flags emerge when CEOs or COOs start micromanaging or questioning marketing strategies. This is a signal to over-communicate and involve leaders in a way that focuses their attention on essential matters.
Meeting Them Where They Are: Your role involves educating the leadership team, guiding their focus from where they are to where they should be, considering both time and resources.
2. Conducting a Marketing Gap Analysis
Aligning with Company Vision: Understand the company’s direction and assess how well the marketing aligns with this vision. Identifying gaps not only demonstrates your systematic approach but also provides a measurable baseline for future comparisons.
3. Creating a Comprehensive, and Tactical, Marketing Plan
Addressing Identified Gaps: Your plan should aim to close these gaps. This might involve changing the team composition, switching vendors, or overhauling messaging. Ensure all actions are directly linked to closing these identified gaps.
Balancing Long-term Strategies and Quick Wins: Given the typically short tenure of CMOs, especially in SaaS companies, it’s essential to balance significant projects with quick, easily understandable wins. These wins build credibility and momentum, crucial for maintaining leadership support.
Insights from a Fractional CMO
My Experience: As a seasoned fractional CMO, I emphasize the importance of identifying allies and toxic resistors from day one. The significance of mindset and the impact even a single resistant individual can have on marketing efforts is massive.
Early Wins and Client Realizations: Clients often lack clear goals, which become apparent during initial discussions. Clarifying these goals is a crucial early win, aiding in the development of a tailored marketing strategy.
CEO’s Understanding of CMOs: CEOs should recognize that CMOs are strategic thinkers, deserving of a premium for their experience. CMOs offer a holistic view of the company, contrasting with the often product-focused perspective of CEOs.
When Not to Hire a Fractional CMO: Humility is vital. If a CEO is unclear on their goals or unwilling to trust the process, hiring a fractional CMO might not be the right decision. Moreover, a CMO can’t fix a fundamentally flawed product; the focus should be on product development first.
The journey of a CMO is fraught with challenges but also filled with opportunities. By building strong relationships, conducting thorough analyses, and implementing strategic plans, a CMO can significantly impact the organization’s trajectory. Remember, it’s not just about putting lipstick on a product; it’s about strategically guiding the company towards its marketing goals.