You put in your time, worked hard and you’re now a CMO. Good for you, now get to work. No, seriously, get to work! Your plate is already full. Back in the day a CMO was responsible for things like brand identity, brand awareness and corporate marketing, but today’s CMO is responsible for a great deal more. Things like growth, top-line revenue, CRM and profit are now your responsibilities, as well, and experts say your responsibilities will only increase. So get to it, and while you’re doing all this new stuff, make sure you stay up to date on all of the ways consumer marketing is changing. Make sure you’re an expert on all things digital, you have a deep understanding of social media and you know exactly how each of your consumers wants to be spoken to … on an individual basis. Get to it!
Sound impossible? How can you be responsible for all of these important new initiatives while learning about everything that’s changing in the digital world?
The transition is difficult, but not impossible. I know, because I lived it. I found a path to learning that you can develop for yourself to help you stay on track.
In 2010 I became CMO of Sharp Electronics. Like many of you I found that this was a critical position for the company — one that went well beyond “advertising.” Not only was I tasked with creating a new brand identity, but I was also asked to identify new revenue streams through services, software and content. Later that year I participated in IBM’s worldwide CMO study. When the results came out I was not surprised that the factor that concerned CMOs most was feeling unprepared for the “data explosion.” A whopping 71% of CMOs had the same concerns I had! The difference for me, however, was that the advisory work I was doing with OwnerIQ, an ad-tech startup out of Boston, had given me the confidence I needed to take on the digital landscape.
When I became a CMO in 2010 the average tenure for the job was two years. I made it to 25 months, thus doing my part to push up the mean! I ended up consulting for, and now working full-time for, OwnerIQ, where I found myself knee-deep in the most exciting and effective type of advertising available, path-to-purchase programmatic media buying using real-time bidding. It sounds like a mouthful, but the barriers to understanding digital advertising are lower than you might think. All you need to do is find a little time and be willing to learn. Here are a few ideas:
– Use social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to follow digital influencers and luminaries. You’ll help yourself if you follow the individuals @JeffreyHayzlett, @erinraese, and @shellypalmer, and the publications @CMO_com, @CMO_Council, @CMOCollective and @adexchanger. It’s easier to digest a few snippets a day from someone in the know than a bunch of long articles.
– Talk to experts directly. Invite the industry’s best companies in to educate you and your team. You’re a CMO — people WANT to meet you. Be clear that you’re not looking for a sales pitch, but rather a briefing on how the technology that an agency is using can help your company. Smart agencies will understand that education today could lead to opportunities tomorrow.
– Encourage members of your team to engage with their counterparts at all levels of the companies that you bring in to meet with you. Don’t just get a high-level education for yourself, but make sure that everyone in your marketing organization is well versed on how to implement the most innovative tools available.
– Seek out opportunities to join advisory boards of fast-moving and innovative companies and agencies. Many of them need help crafting their message so that it resonates with CMOs like you. As you help them, you’ll become immersed in their technology and you will learn!
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Failing to ask questions of experts doesn’t keep you looking smarter than you are — it makes you appear uninterested and closed-minded. When I got to the solutions side I learned that the people who ask questions are problem solvers, innovators – searching for new things that can help their business.
You do need to put aside time to do these things, and time is precious. The time you invest in learning about something that will dramatically improve your professional standing is well spent. There’s really no other option than to embrace the changing landscape. So get to it! You and your company will be glad you did.