The role of the COM has been attacked in recent years.
According to a study by Accenture, two in three CEOs don’t believe their marketing directors have the business acumen or leadership skills their role demands. Perhaps that’s why some prominent companies like Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, and Uber are dropping the position altogether.
When companies fail to understand the value CMOs can bring to the company, our work can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill forever. This puts CMOs in a defensive position – they are always fighting for the place that contributes to the wellbeing of the company.
It’s time for CMOs to take offense instead.
Reconsider the “ing” in marketing
CMOs are handicapped by their organization’s lack of understanding of the power they wield, research by Korn Ferry has shown. We often find ourselves in a no man’s land between sales and marketing, which tarnishes the waters of the CMO role and makes it harder to demonstrate its worth.
I’ve been on both sides of the marketing and sales fence and found that merging the two functions under Sales doesn’t work. The requirements between the two teams are different, and when members of the marketing team get caught up in month-to-month reactionary tactics, they lose the time it takes to think about the long-term prospects of the market in order to create long-term value.
Many of the challenges CMOs face are related to the term “marketing” itself. It is a verb that includes creating blog posts, press releases, events, and lectures – all tasks, not strategy. Such expectations leave many CMOs stuck and cannot step back. A step back is necessary, however, in order to understand the needs of the market and to align the company strategy accordingly. No wonder we wear each other in rags!
Fortunately, forward-thinking CEOs are starting to empower their CMOs to go beyond tactics and focus on their markets instead. In fact, 83% of global CEOs believe marketing can be a major growth driver.
But we CMOs can go one step further. I see a shift to Chief Market Officer which is why I changed my title. I studied what great market leaders do and learned a lot about myself, my team and my company.
This shift takes a lot of work, and here’s what I learned about the key areas that chief market officers need to focus on.
Your strategic plan is a living document that details what your goals are and how you will achieve those goals. Far-reaching, Multi-Year Strategic Plans with Goals and Key Results (OKRs) are understandably popular, but a plan with a shorter timeframe is a better place to start:
- Focus on the quarter and the year. What are your goals for the coming quarter?
- Develop measurements that inspire your team. How will you measure and communicate success to them?
- Ask how you can improve your business every day. What else can you bring to the table to improve your strategy?
Instead of OKR, I use V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measures) and have seen that other companies use it well. It helped me develop clear and prioritized strategic plans as Chief Market Officer.
Gain customer knowledge
The main job of a GMO is to understand the market. To do this, we need customer knowledge: thorough knowledge of what our customers really want from us.
However, today’s B2B buyers don’t openly share this information. Instead of raising their hands by filling out forms or downloading gated content, buyers research what my team calls a dark funnel – anonymizing their data and forcing marketers to guess.
To unpack the Dark Funnel and get some real insight, I suggest that you …
- Master your total addressable market (TAM) and your ideal customer profile (ICP). Once you understand who might be in your market and what they are like, you have a starting point.
- Use historical pattern analysis for your customer data. You have technical tools, including artificial intelligence and big data, that you can use to find historical patterns and determine which accounts are similar to your most successful previous accounts.
- Define your customary ideal customer profile (IICP). The above information will give you a glimpse of the accounts that are ready to move into the purchase path. These are the ones that make up your IICP.
Backing up your plans with data not only motivates change, but also illuminates a large part of the buying process that is not visible. You can see each stage of a customer’s journey and plan accordingly.
Design your category
Chief Market Officers not only represent the market in their organizations, but also establish the positioning of their companies in this area through category design. If you don’t, what you are marketing may not meet the demands of the market – or worse, you may find yourself in a crowded market without the differentiation required to compete.
A lot goes in category design; I recommend focusing on the following key points first:
- Define your brand positioning. You need to know your company and make sure that its values and identity are reflected in everything you create. This knowledge creates signposts with which you can specifically build your brand.
- Develop a strong POV category. Ask yourself: How are you going to break out of your space and move into the place where real change is happening?
- Assign your message. With your narrative in hand, you can create your news bulletin to target everyone – from the CEO to the BDR – on your company’s news.
- Build your “market presentation”. Bring your product team to create your awesome stacking slide. But don’t get lost in the weeds; Keep it simple and digestible so that it logically breaks the features you provide into the things your customers need.
- Create a category blueprint. The blueprint should provide an overview of not only what you are doing today, but also where you and the market will be in the future – including key partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and product roadmap elements that will make you and the industry compelling Offer.
Mastering corporate culture
A great corporate culture creates a community of employees, partners and customers that is guided by a single purpose. It is powerful. And as culture advocates, CMOs can wield that power.
If you’ve never thought about corporate culture, where should you start? The following worked fine for me:
- Build your first team. These are your fellow leaders. Build them up, support them, and align them first as you become a culture champion.
- Delight your sales team. Celebrate them and their victories. For example, my team is doing the Field Kickoff – a big family reunion-style party where the First Team Sales shows how much they care.
- Communicate transparently. No happy conversations or sugar coating news: be honest when things don’t work and cheer when they do. (V2MOM helps you set public goals that you want to be held accountable for.)
- Live your values. You are the culture champion so you have to show how important the company values are to you personally!
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With the elements outlined above, we chief market officers can build an understanding of our markets, create a measurable plan to help our businesses succeed, and highlight the leadership qualities we bring to the table.