In your company, is marketing seen as a strategic contributor to business success or the group that puts “a pretty bow on it”?
Marketing is exceedingly more than that pretty bow. And it’s up to us, as CMOs, to exploit marketing’s true power. But to do this we must become multifaceted because our discipline is multifaceted. Let’s build and run dynamic organizations that drive business growth.
Multifaceted CMOs are concerned with the many factors that impact the health and growth of the business. They focus on and accomplish things that are, for the most part, unseen. Put simply, multifaceted CMOs are great business people. If CMOs are not moving the business forward in a measurable way, then they are not living up to their true potential. They are not exploiting marketing’s true value.
Marketing at its fullest and best is a complex discipline that runs a sophisticated and powerful engine. To be great business people, CMOs must understand how this engine runs. We must know how and when to pull the right levers to move the right cogs–or business drivers–to impact revenue, increase profitability, and generate growth.
This high-level understanding of interconnected elements that impact business growth is a must. The multifaceted CMO has it. Many of us get mired in the day-to-day. We become focused on the wrong things, such as lead generation or event activities. Thus, we report on less-than-relevant metrics. In fact, a recent Forrester study reported that just 8 percent of B2B CEOs rely on marketing data to make decisions. Ouch. Analyst Laura Ramos states, “CMOs can’t continue to rely on measures like brand awareness, trade show scans, or website traffic to demonstrate the benefit their departments deliver.”
How do we turn this ship around? Following are three ways to get started and exploit marketing’s true power.
1. Measure The Right Things
Stock price is one of the most significant objective measures of my performance. It’s linked to bookings, revenue, and recurring revenue growth rates, which, in turn, are linked to marketing’s impact on the sales cycle. So, as a multifaceted CMO I have to understand how everything marketing does–product development, marketing communications, strategic partnerships, investor relations, international expansion, and much more–impacts the business. Yes, it’s a tall order, but it’s incredibly important.
One of the first things I did in my current role was to shift what we measured from leads to impact on closed business. Building a revenue performance management model wasn’t easy, and it took almost a year to accomplish. But it was well worth it. Marketing has a powerful impact on the business. Now that we’ve objectified it, we can measure, monitor, and adjust for greater success. If you don’t know how your engine works, then you can’t optimize it for performance.
2. Relegate And Delegate
Choosing what not to do is just as important as choosing what to do. I manage a series of trade-offs day in and day out. “Do this because more people will buy.” “Don’t do that because it’s not a growth driver.” Now that you know how your engine runs, you can decide what sort of fuel optimizes mileage or boosts acceleration. We all need to learn how to say no–to defer or to eliminate–because not everything you and your team might do is aligned to business growth.
Become intentionally strategic about how you delegate. Do less so that you can do more. It may be difficult to ask someone who’s not quite ready to jump in. But it’s good for that person, for you, and your company. I’m really great at webinars, but I’m no longer our main speaker. Nor do I create webinar content. Others have stepped in, they are growing, and I am able to elevate my focus. And the business benefits.
3. Expand Marketing’s Boundaries Even Further
Because marketing is a multifaceted machine that moves business forward, your business is part and parcel of an increasingly interconnected and fast-moving world. This presents even greater opportunity for growth. Identify forces outside of your obvious purview to generate new revenue streams.
I mentioned in a previous article on CMO.com, “Five Ways CMOs Can Expand Their Influence and Impact,” that marketing should be involved in M&A, and that’s just one example. How about tapping new markets and new geographies with strategic partners? Find the fastest route between two points; join with those who have a deep market understanding in new regions and with new customer segments. Partnerships can simultaneously accelerate growth and eliminate complexity.
Becoming a multifaceted CMO is up to you. You can choose to be a point person and deliver pretty bows. Some CMOs reside comfortably here and make contributions around messaging, communication, and demand generation. These are all important, but they are not a long-term business growth strategy.
In closing, I’d like to address CMOs who may be struggling to expand their role. Even if your CEO only wants a pretty bow, I challenge you to give more–much more. My next article will be about just that: what your CEO really wants. We marketers strive to delight our customers, so why not our CEOs, our companies, and our shareholders as well.