You’re racing to the next meeting, getting pinged with sixteen different messages, then an executive colleague pulls you aside for a five-minute briefing on a marketing request. Five minutes should be enough to cover everything, right?
It seems like everyone has some understanding of marketing as a function, but few are aware of what great marketing actually takes. In fact, CMOs’ jobs have never been more complex. For example, 75% of consumers tried a new shopping behavior in the last 18 months, and only 11% of organizations say they currently understand customer behavior well. Navigating this complexity starts with a fully integrated marketing function that can give you the ability to cut through the noise, build brand loyalty and drive business results.
To that end, here are three essential discussions that CMOs need to have with their CEOs this year, including tactics to help get the ideas, people and resources needed for success:
1. Go back to basics—forecasting and expectation setting. Adapting to a CEO’s management style can vary by the day depending on the priority of the moment. Sometimes the CEO wants the big picture, sometimes just one data point before moving on. To achieve optimal success in both modes of analysis, you and your CEO must be aligned on the fundamentals, particularly forecasting and expectation setting.
Marketing is a blend of science and art and we should strike that same balance when managing expectations and forecasting a project. Creating a simple, impactful and easily understood message actually requires more work than it seems. It takes an intricate web of understanding about what will drive the best outcome, and that can run up against the ever-present desire for immediate turnaround and results.
When the time is right (not during a data meeting), align on seemingly basic but critical questions and talk about how a simple request comes to life as a truly integrated strategy with deliverables for various stakeholders. Creating this alignment will not only increase the speed at which your function can produce excellent work within a unified strategy, but also can be the difference between customers staying or leaving.
2. Reevaluate your tech debt. In the past, organizations stacked layer-upon-layer of tech to solve an ever-growing list of tactical problems. But it’s led to tech debt, that is, out-of-date legacy systems encumbering the functions. Tech debt is not just a problem for finance or IT. Marketing has tech debt, too, and if you don’t pay it down it will eventually be impossible to have an integrated function.
It’s time to evaluate, organize and consolidate your tech ecosystem in the most digitally optimized approach.
There’s a saying: If you show people how big the tool is, they start to realize how big the job is. Often, CEOs don’t realize until it’s too late how much they need sophisticated, integrated martech to remain agile in a constantly evolving market. From quicker project turnarounds to better segmentation and more effective digital collaboration, these solutions can speed development, aid creativity and unleash the power of your people, all of which lead to better business outcomes.
As CMOs, we must help our CEOs understand why the organization should redirect resources towards agility, optimization and digital differentiation. Thankfully, you can point to the hard ROIs that come from investing in the marketer experience and replacing, say, six low-value solutions with one great tech solution.
3. Position marketing as a strategic partner. Because everybody has an intuitive understanding of marketing, it’s pretty common for marketing to receive a constant stream of one-off requests from all departments. It's up to us to see those moments as opportunities and consider how each tactical request can best plug into our existing channels, overall strategy and business objectives.
At their best, marketers use these one-offs as part of a larger momentum strategy that helps companies get into a state of constant innovation, bringing together creativity, data science and big ideas to continuously measure, design and optimize experiences and deliver outsized outcomes.
Consider this moment of consumer complexity: Why do only 11% of organizations understand consumer behavior? Because in many companies, marketing has yet to claim its strategic leadership and be a tool not just to execute, but to bring a strategic understanding of the customer.
As a marketing leader, your ability to seize every good idea as a strategic asset within a larger integrated framework will determine whether your business tames this lion of consumer complexity or gets eaten by it.