CMOs’ average tenure is brief. So brief that a CMO may not even see an entire strategy they developed go from ideation to implementation. The average tenure for a CMO dropped to 41 months last year, substantially lower than the rest of the C-suite.
The life of a CMO is often about finding a balance between tenaciously driving your brand strategy forward and satisfying a sometimes seemingly endless list of recurring KPIs. And all throughout finding your balance, the harsh reality is there just isn’t much time.
From that perspective, the CMOs find themselves in the position of needing to quickly show results, and they’re left having to execute brand growth in the high-pressure cooker that is B2B marketing. And what do we know about pressure cookers? What once took a day in a crockpot, can now take an hour in an Instapot, if you catch my drift. CMOs need to become the Instapot! Quickly cooking up marketing strategies and executing just as fast.
Why the quick turnover?
Unlike the rest of the C-suite, the CMO has no time for onboarding, especially in B2B – an industry that evolves faster than any other as new tech emerges daily. There’s really no onboarding phase for a CMO, instead, it’s crucial to dive right into the CMO playbook.
Building your CMO Playbook
1. It starts with your brand
Focusing on the brand is often overlooked in B2B. Orbiting in the B2B tech universe means it’s unfortunately normal to overemphasize marketing automation and lead gen. And while that is important, don’t forget your brand. This is your one and only CMO-honeymoon phase. This is your opportunity to be the new kid with a fresh perspective. Tactically, start by taking inventory of what you have.
- Do a brand audit to get an idea of the consistency of messaging and overall look and feel.
- Make recommendations on what can be improved.
- Chuck out what’s gone stale and needs to go.
- Buy fresh where you need it.
Make sure whatever brand you land on has enough legs to carry many implementations. As you look to grow and scale up your efforts, you need to have enough building blocks to keep things feeling fresh. As marketers, we’re all guilty of the cardinal sin of quickly growing bored of our own brand way too soon – so give yourself some leeway to keep consistent but yet have enough to work with to keep it feeling fresh.
2. Work with growth marketing early (this is all about demand gen)
We all know the purpose of marketing is to sell. If you’re not delivering those MQLs, you won’t have the freedom to focus on long-term, brand-building efforts. So make sure you build a marketing machine that is sustainable. Review your tech stack. Invest in what’s missing and, if you have the headcount, make sure you make this crucial hire to oversee it early on. And remember from the beginning: you’re building to scale. Try small campaigns first but the minute you see traction, double down on what’s growing. Create repeatable programs around it. The last thing you want to be doing is reinventing the wheel.
3. Review your sales enablement
We always talk about the infamous sales funnel and providing imperative educational content to make a buying decision. In B2B, the typical sales funnel is more convoluted – your customers don’t enter the awareness phase and trickle down the funnel to conversion. They need to be educated and comfortable with the information provided. If growth marketing is the machine to keep the cogs turning in the sales process, we need sales enablement and content marketing to fuel it.
The marketing landscape is changing. It always has been and always will be. In the 90s, sales and marketing leadership were one and the same. Then we diversified into separate disciplines and now we’ve got a CMO and we have a CRO. And, while the functions and titles will continue to be separate for the foreseeable future, we are once again seeing more alignment. With the rise of programs such as ABM that directly impact both sales and marketing, your playbook needs to reflect this and include making friends with Sales as soon as you can.
4. Clean up your website
Your website is your storefront…and a lot more. It’s your identity, personality, and a window into culture (internally), recruitment (externally), and platform for future growth.
In website time, 2 years is about the maximum length a website can stay static. After that, technology has changed – both likely in your own hosting and in your product tech – and your brand positioning has likely changed, too. This means you probably won’t be talking to the same audience in 18 months in the future that you do today. Which means, at least every 18 months (and that’s pushing it) your website has to reflect user changes, product changes, new flows, and even societal adjustments. Who knows how we will even digest digital media in the next year.
5. Amplifying your brand
In B2B marketing, 67% of buyers come into the purchasing situation with a brand in mind. And 94% of the time, that brand is what they end up buying.
So, focusing on demand gen (growth marketing) is key to longevity, but you must pair it with brand-building activities. You must be driving actions that get your name into those equations early on…activities that deliver new eyeballs to your ecosystem, not just reinforce your name among people already familiar with what you do.
What a lot of brands miss is ‘amplification’
What a good CMO knows is that investing in yourself matters. That’s investing in your brand with media that reaches the right audience that already knows about you and expanding to share with audiences that fit but may not know about your brand already. Working in B2B marketing, there’s an overwhelming emphasis on digital media and campaigns. We love a good ABM campaign or brand-gen campaign, but we also love the classics – billboards, airport advertising, radio, and print. And the classics that are evolving like DOOH, interactive DOOH, audio spots in podcasts hosted by the big leagues all the way down to micro-influencers running their own podcast production.
Potential marketing channels are ever-expanding and becoming more and more personal. So look at your choices, pick some safe routes but allow yourself to experiment with new avenues. The brave are often rewarded and discover more about what resonates with their audience and how to connect with them. And, in the end, that’s what it’s about. Learning more about your audience and using data to do so. We can’t guarantee your job security, but, by building a brand that people want to be part of, we believe you’ll have a better shot at extending those 41 months way past the industry average.
Cover image source: Andrea Piacquadio