Indeed, many CMOs come and go. Some decide to move on for greener pastures; others crash and burn. Don’t be the latter. Rather than fall prey to misplaced expectations and relentless change, break free by using your skills and talents to harness and direct the power of change. Let’s become change agents who drive profitable business growth, i.e., Chief Growth Officers.
Following are five ways CMOs can expand their influence and impact, straight from my career.
1. Market yourself: Our jobs are to market our companies, our brands, and our products, but what about ourselves? Being a great CMO means facing out to the market and keeping one’s “finger on the pulse” of the customer at all times. But what about facing in? Years ago I began to evangelize my capabilities and how I was contributing to the business. Yes, it takes time, but you have to do it. One way to spread the word about yourself and marketing’s broad capabilities is to ask trusted colleagues to speak for you and for the importance of the CMO role to the business. You know how to get customers to speak for your brand--it’s the same difference.
2. Think big: You have boundless know-how, so use it. Think beyond what others may say is traditional marketing territory. Volunteer for tough assignments; fix what’s broken and improve it. Marketers are problem-solvers. We are thinkers who know how to assess a situation and call on various resources to get the job done. Why not use these capabilities in new areas? To change others’ perceptions of you and the CMO role, you’re going to have to do some unexpected and even surprising things.
I started running business development and strategic alliances a few years ago, which were carved off from sales. I soon found I was well-prepared to do things for which I wasn’t formally trained. At the same time, I brought unique talents and a fresh perspective to the table.
3. Take risks: Part of thinking big means taking risks by entering new and uncharted territory. Marketing has many areas in which to grow and expand, like leveraging big data, mobile, and social. But let’s go beyond that. I mentioned my move into strategic alliances; I’m now running product management as well. Several other areas where CMOs should have considerable influence include M&A and R&D. Product acquisition and development should be driven by a clear understanding of the market, where it has been, and where it might go. Who better than the CMO to give critical insights on such ventures?
4. Set the right expectations: It’s one thing to promise the world. It’s another to deliver it. While marketing your talents, capabilities, and the importance of the strategically integrated CMO, don’t forget to set proper expectations. Architect your initiatives from the start. Build from small to big. Establish and promote early wins and build on them. Get the right measures and responses in place. Manage the timing and delivery of value based on resources and market opportunities.
If you’re beholden to bookings and sales (and you should be), measure the full business cycle--not just responses to programs in the field. It’s not just about traffic, lead generation, or even appointment setting. Strategic marketing is about the full business cycle, from identifying new markets, to product development, to customer acquisition and retention, to establishing and building on long-term profitability.
5. Change yourself: Just as the market never stops changing, neither should you. I love change. I get itchy every 18 months or so and need a new challenge, so I keep on the lookout for new opportunities.
A great method for change and growth is to transfer talents. Create a bridge to new roles and responsibilities. Begin by selecting nearby areas where problem solving, communication, and leadership are needed.
When you continually remake yourself, you’re igniting exponential change because you’re giving more runway to others. The more we stretch up and out to expand our roles, the more the entire business can grow. Now that’s real impact.