These days, CMOs have more to juggle than ever before. They devise overall company strategies, take products to market, liaise with the PR partner, play a part in investor relations, helm lead-generation and content marketing campaigns, pen thought leadership pieces, oversee social media strategy and internal communications, speak at conferences and trade shows and—on top of all that and more—fulfill the specific needs of the C-suite.
To add to that mayhem, they manage everyday requests from the sales team as it works to land new deals and clientele. At the center of this maelstrom should be a meticulous dedication to providing a target clientele with products and services they truly need and an implicit necessity of listening to what those needs are.
I once worked with a company whose head of sales insisted he and his team couldn’t sell the existing product to the company’s target clientele. The CEO stepped in personally, spending time with clients and potential customers to identify real needs for which his company could provide helpful solutions.
That chief executive took it upon himself to intervene by setting up a client road tour with his CMO. Together they were willing to listen to and work with clients and their own product teams rather than take someone else’s word for it. The end result was a stronger offering, faster onboarding of clients who felt they had been heard, and a new head of sales who was also a better listener and team player.
To avoid those scenarios altogether (no one wants the CEO breathing down necks, believe me), I compiled a quick checklist for CMOs and marketing pros heading into the new year to make sure your corporate marketing strategy is prepared to hit the ground running and avoid those reactive moments that kill momentum for a product or company.
1. Have fresh customer insights and research on target clientele and competitors. Consumer and competitive research can get stale quickly; make sure you’re always at the forefront of the latest research.
2. Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize your prioritizing. Remove the busy work and focus on efforts that have solid ROI potential. Have a method for determining what is and isn’t business-critical for the CMO. Whatever doesn’t make that list should be delegated; don’t overwhelm yourself unnecessarily.
3. Review your team and talent. Have the right team and resources in place so you can delegate important tasks and maintain a system of accountability that empowers teams to work independently toward the same goals and success measurements.
4. Build robust reporting for C-suite digestion. Establish a reporting structure that highlights high-impact, cohesive metrics across marketing functions that can generate discussion in the C-suite and boardroom. Take a deep dive into competitor coverage, executive positioning, share of voice, web traffic and more.
5. Break down barriers and maintain strong internal relationships with:
- Your head of sales so you’re constantly eliciting strong feedback and identifying fixable issues that can lead to further growth;
- Your head of product, so you can create a go-to-market strategy around launches that integrates marketing, advertising and public relations;
- Your head of HR because if you’re company is looking to grow and attract top talent then you need a marketing and PR strategy that supports this and promotes your culture.
- The CEO (of course): Determine how you want to position the chief executive and what level of visibility he or she is comfortable with, so you can customize a media relations or thought leadership plan;
- The CFO: If you’re public, in the process of going public, are getting acquired or plan to make an acquisition, know how your efforts support various exit strategies.
- Avoid compromising positions. Develop a crisis communications plan that addresses such issues as product flaws, recalls, disgruntled employees or customers and more.
CMOs can’t do it all on their own—and they shouldn’t feel they have to—so let’s talk about how integrating the right public relations partner can alleviate some of that burden and augment your existing or desired marketing strategy.