Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Kristine Steuart, CEO and Co-Founder at Allocadia, where the team has learned a lot about selling to CMOs: their needs and challenges, and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Kristine shares some of these learnings in her “Leading in Change” blog series, helping CMOs and marketing operations lead and build data-driven marketing organizations. The following is the second in the series. Read part one here.
CMOs face intense pressure to increase the visibility and credibility of marketing especially in today’s drastically changing environment. Marketing teams have to not only learn new ways and channels to engage customers, they have to shift their marketing organization’s structures to support new goals.
As CEO of Allocadia, I’m ultimately accountable to shareholders. Early on, this accountability extended to only my co-founder and me – as we were Allocadia’s only shareholders. As our company grew, this became a bigger group and included shareholders, team members, and of course, customers. With increased stakeholders, came increased pressure on marketing accountability, which is ultimately a good thing: when you’re in a state of constant change, accountability keeps you focused, and most importantly, opens up a dialogue to ensure we are all doing what’s right to grow the business.
Here are 5 suggestions to help today’s marketers boost the credibility of and show the accountability of marketing:
1. Anticipate the tough questions: At a recent customer meet-up, one of our prospects shared a common pain for marketers today: the inevitable questions from the CMO or members of the C-Suite for information on the marketing budget and ROI, to which they’d want the answers immediately! We heard a great solution from a marketing operations manager. To pre-empt those tough questions (and boost her marketing department’s credibility and accountability) she was proactively sending her CMO a Dashboard at the beginning of each month that provided an overview of where they had spent their budget, the plan vs. actual and the forecasted spend.
2. Lay the foundation now for the hard problems: A recent IBM survey of 1,700 CMOs worldwide also cited one of the CMOs core challenges being “Capture value, measure results”). But often, that is easier said than done! Instead of thinking of ROMI as an insurmountable challenge, identify ways to build the foundation for ROMI at your company. Focus first on the “I” piece of ROMI – investment. Understand your investment data: your plans, commits, forecasts, and actuals. Identify where you’re spending and against what Corporate Objectives, Regions or Products. This will allow you to get a handle on the data and start the building blocks to ROMI. There’s an additional upside. You’ll also be able to proactively answer some of the basic questions on the “business” of marketing, further enhancing credibility and ensuring your accountability is visible.
3. Launch initiatives quickly: Marketing is an outward facing function. If people don’t see your marketing team actually producing deliverables, there likely will be questions about the credibility and accountability of your marketing efforts. Sales people want tools. Executives want leads. But, if you’re always focused on planning and adapting your organization to this new marketing 2.0 world, you can easily get lost in the process, and lose focus on delivering. Ask yourself what your customers have seen from your marketing department lately. If it’s not recent and fresh, then launch something, quickly: a campaign, sales tool, or content piece. We are supposed to see marketing in action.
4. Communicate deadlines: Someone recently told me, “Everything is hard when you don’t know how.” This is so true for marketing today. When it’s difficult to “know how”, we tend to shy away from communicating deadlines and timeframes. I always ask for timeframes so we can have an open dialogue around what is good for our business. I understand timelines can slip, and things can change. But we have to have some sort of framework to validate if it is the right approach for our business. This is very important to establish credibility with marketing stakeholders such as the C-Suite. They want to know when your programs will launch to achieve better Marketing ROI, or when internal efficiencies will be gained. Provide your stakeholders with a timeframe and deadlines, set expectation that it is ‘subject to change”, and you’ll see it will help create a sense of accountability and establish credibility for your marketing department.
5. State “the why”: An easy way to quickly boost marketing’s credibility is to communicate “the why”. I was recently in a follow-up meeting with a potential partner, and I started the meeting with a quick synopsis on “the why” – why this partnership is good for them, for us, and for customers. Then we launched into specifics. Demonstrating that you understand what you’re working towards will quickly show you are accountable and boost your credibility. Not only can you state the why, but also draw it out from your team members and stakeholders. This inquisitive, analytic mind-set will also help increase accountability.