Marketing Strategy
5 Difficult Decisions No CMO Can Shy Away From

5 Difficult Decisions No CMO Can Shy Away From

February 5, 2020
5 min read

Although decisions about a company’s marketing strategy aren’t as critical to life and limb as are those of a warrior on the battlefield, they are critical to the lifeblood of the company. As former Navy SEAL and Forbes business leadership consultant Brent Gleeson points out, there is indeed a vital thread that runs through all decision-making, both in the boardroom and on the battlefield. As a CMO, you need to face those difficult decisions and move forward into uncharted territory – unbridled success.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Lose the fear of making hard decisions.
  • Don’t get stuck in analysis, testing or perfecting. At a predecided juncture, just do it.
  • Empower your teams to take decisions. Of any kind.
  • Lose your fear of the spend – leverage money and time to build value.

1. Lean into Challenging Conversations

The temptation, especially in a top-down siloed operation, is to back down, play along with the powers that be, and allow the company to go down the road of mediocrity. As a CMO, you’re there to promote your company and its expertise in its field. If silos and tradition stand in the way, you need to have the courage to have those difficult conversations.

As Gleeson puts it, putting such a conversation off “won’t fix things, and it’s not fair to the other person.” When that other person is someone who depends on you to take your marketing strategy into the next decade, it could even be your job on the line if you don’t take the lead and show them the data that points to the need for a more collaborative, agile marketing strategy.

2. Know When to Call It

We’ve all watched medical TV programs where teams of doctors and nurses pound on the chest of a patient for what seems like hours. There comes a time – both on TV and in life – at which a doctor must realize when her patient hasn’t a chance. She calls it, “Time of death: 12:03.”

In marketing, there’s no patient on the table, but there might be a piece of content that you believe should go one way. You A/B test and you A/B test again, and you don’t get a clear direction from the results.

You could, of course, keep testing. But there are other “patients” to save. You need to make the call. If your experience tells you that a piece of content is a winner, publish it and move on. Don’t waste your team’s time and your company’s money on navel-gazing. If the data is ambivalent, choose the version your gut goes with and move on.

3. Empower Your Employees

It’s scary to yield control to people you’re tasked to supervise, particularly in an organization with a top-down management structure. After all, it’s your job on the line if they mess up.

However, statistics tell a different tale. Even in top-down companies, management’s number one concern is their bottom line, right? According to the career advice experts at The Muse, companies with highly engaged employees rake in 2.5 times the revenue compared to their competitors with low engagement levels.

Those numbers could make even a top-down tyrant like Scrooge stand up and salute. And though company tyrants like to strut around your company’s halls, breathing threats to fire everyone who doesn’t measure up, the stats show that the Scrooge strategy is not only a morale-killer but also a profit-killer.

The same report shows that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the company than those who aren’t so empowered. And as the human resources gurus at HR Dive point out, the average cost to replace a single employee who leaves is $15,000.

Multiply that figure by 87 percent of your employees. You do the math.

When you empower your employees to take risks, to innovate, and to find better ways to do their jobs, you’re helping your company grow. Take those numbers to the C-suite the next time the office dragon thunders down the hall.

4. Spend the Money on Martech Innovation – But Do So Wisely

Speaking of Scrooge, there are some fearful CMOs who hesitate to jump into the water when it comes to the cost of digital transformation, content marketing, and other cutting-edge strategies that can keep them ahead of their competitors. Do it anyway.

Do your research. Find the most effective tech and digital strategy providers. Prepare the way for a 21st-century transformation with workshops, training, and patience.

If you don’t move now to embrace a new way of working, you’ll find yourself falling behind your peers. Come on in, the water’s fine.

So fine, says Online Marketing Institute’s Josh Jackson, that over the past 10 years, corporate marketing budgets have shown upward growth. It’s no wonder.

They must spend now, or risk going under. Here’s why these 21st-century marketing innovations are necessary for CMOs to keep ahead of the game:

  • Digital transformation: Companies that invest in a digital transformation are 64 percent more likely to reach their goals than those who do not. The reason? Customer experience. Today’s customers expect a seamless experience from beginning to end. Only with predictive digital technologies, automated processes, and intuitive customer service can companies deliver the kinds of experiences that drive customer loyalty and referrals – both necessary to grow your business.
  • Agile marketing: As a recent McKinsey study pointed out, using Agile methodology in marketing empowers marketers to leverage data analytics to discover opportunities, solve problems, run tests quickly, and adjust the strategy accordingly. Those organizations that do make the switch to an Agile strategy, says the study, boost revenue anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent.
  • Customer-centric strategies: Having a robust data analytics program won’t bring much fruit unless you put the customer at the center of your marketing strategy. Product-driven marketing is so yesterday. Use AI and other data technologies to uncover your customers’ pain points and put your Agile teams to work on solving those problems. That approach, say the results of a CMO study by PAN Communications, are what will keep companies on the leading edge of their respective industries.
  • Personalization and account-based marketing: With today’s technologies, CMOs can empower their teams to deliver personalized messages to their target customers at exactly the time they need them. With account-based marketing (ABM), your team can narrow your focus down even further, delivering specific content to each decision-maker in your target customers’ company (or family, for major consumer purchases). Those who make the investment generally see a tenfold increase in customer engagement, a key precursor to purchasing.

5. Leverage Content Marketing to Build Authority and Customer Trust

“You can’t get something for nothing,” blares the late ’70s rock anthem from the legendary Canadian band Rush.

But when your company gives away valuable content for nothing and your recipients are your target customers, marketing management happens. The reason? Customers don’t trust ads.

What they do trust, however, is information that helps them solve the problems that keep them up at night. When a company delivers that kind of information for free – and the advice works – potential customers bookmark that company’s website. They put its contact information in their address book. They enter its number in their phone directory.

They subscribe to the company’s newsletter and read its blog posts voraciously. As all that content proves to be fruitful in making these customers’ lives better and their businesses more profitable, trust in that company’s expertise rises to astronomical levels.

When those customers need what such a company sells, you can bet that the one that provides all that free information will be the one they’ll call on first. But don’t take only my word for it. Studies show that content marketing brings in three times the leads for each dollar spent, compared to other marketing strategies, points out a CMI article. Also, 61 percent of all American consumers who read recommendations on a blog post purchase something. Whether sooner or later, they’re likely to buy.

Bottom line – you need to make it your New Year’s resolution to lose your fear, empower your teams, and empower yourself for success. Get started today!

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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