It’s Time for Chief Market Officers to Play Offense

The role of the CMO has been criticized in recent years.

According to a survey, two out of three CEOs believe that marketing directors lack the business acumen or leadership skills needed for their role. Perhaps that’s why some big companies like Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt, and Uber are abandoning the feature altogether.

If companies do not understand the value that CMOs can add to the business, it seems that our work wants to push a stone uphill. This puts CMOs in a defensive position: they always strive for space to contribute to the company’s well-being.

It is time for CMOs to take the offensive.

Rethink Marketing

An investigation found that CMOs are hampered by the company’s lack of understanding of their power. We often find ourselves in a no-man’s-land between sales and marketing, which obscures the role of the CMO and makes it more difficult to prove its value.

Fortunately, forward-thinking CEOs are starting to allow their CMOs to go beyond tactics, rather than focusing on their markets. In fact, 83% of CEOs worldwide say they believe that marketing can be a major driver of growth.

But we, CMOs, can take it a step further. I see a chance to become a market director, so I changed my position. I studied what great industry leaders do and learned a lot about me, my team, and my company in the meantime.

It takes a lot of work to make that change, and here’s what I learned about the main areas that market managers should focus on.

Develop a strategy

Your strategic plan is a living document that records what your goals are and how you can achieve them. Long-term multi-year strategic plans, full-time goals, and key results (ECRs) are understandably popular, but a plan with a shorter timeline is a better place to start:

  • Stay focused on time and year. What are your goals for the next semester?
  • Develop measurements that will inspire your team. How will you measure success and communicate with them?
  • Ask how you can improve your business every day. What else can you bring to the table to strengthen your strategy?

Instead of OKR, I use V2MOM (vision, values, methods, barriers, and criteria) and I have seen it well with other companies. He helped me develop clear and prioritized strategic plans as a market director.

Collect customer information

The main task of a CMO is to understand the market. To do this, we need customer information – a complete understanding of what our customers really want from us.

However, today’s B2B buyers do not openly share this information. Instead of raising their hands by filling out forms or downloading blocked content, shoppers are researching what my team calls the Black Funnel: anonymizing their data and forcing marketers to guess.

To unzip the dark funnel and get real information, I recommend…

  • Manage your Total Responsible Market (TAM) and your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Once you understand who your market is and what it looks like, you have a starting point.
  • Use historical model analysis on customer data. You have technology tools, including artificial intelligence and big data that can help you find historical patterns and identify which accounts look like your previous most successful accounts.
  • Identify your ideal customer profile in the market (IICP). The information above provides an overview of which accounts are ready to proceed with the purchase journey; these are the ones that make up your IICP.

Backing up your plans with data not only drives change but also highlights many of the hidden purchasing processes. You can see each step of a customer’s journey and plan accordingly.

Design your category

Market leaders not only represent the market in their organizations but also determine the position of their companies in this space by designing categories. Otherwise, what you do in marketing may not be what the market needs, or worse, you may be in a tight market, without the necessary distinction to compete.

There are many category projects; I recommend focusing on these key points to get started:

  • Determine your brand positioning. You need to know your business and make sure that your values and identity are reflected in everything you create. This knowledge contains guidelines that can help you build your brand in a targeted manner.
  • Develop a strong categorical view. Ask yourself: how are you going to get out of your space and move to the place where a real change is taking place?
  • Map your message. With your story in hand, create your bulletin board to keep everyone, from the CEO to the BDR, in line with your corporate message.
  • Build your “market architecture”. Bring your product team to build your incredible chip stack. But don’t get lost in the weeds; keep it simple and digestible so that you logically distribute the resources provided among the things customers need.
  • Complete a category plan. The plan should be a vision not only of what you are doing today but of where you and the market will be in the future, including key partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and roadmap products that provide you and the industry with an attractive destination.

Control corporate culture

A great corporate culture creates a community of employees, partners, and customers, driven by an objective. It is powerful. And as champions of corporate culture, CMOs can exercise power.

If you’ve never thought about corporate culture, where do you start? This is what worked well for me:

  • Create your first team. These are your executive colleagues. Build, support, and customize them first and become the champion of culture.
  • Encourage your sales team. Celebrate them and their victories. For example, my team organizes Field Kickoff, a large family reunion party where the First Team shows salespeople how much they care about them.
  • Communicate transparently. No happy conversations or sugary news – be honest when things are not going well and rejoice when they are (V2MOM helps you define public goals for which you want to be held accountable.)
  • Live your values. You are an advocate of culture, so you must personally demonstrate the importance of the company’s values!