Your First Day As CMO: 3 Strategic Steps To Take

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, August 10, 2018

So you got your dream job: CMO of A Very Cool Brand. It's your first day, and you can’t wait to make some really big things happen. But where do you even start?

Here’s a hint: It all starts with strategy. Here are three ways to hit the ground running toward success.

Get aligned on strategy.  Don’t test out that plush new office chair just yet. Your first job is to sit with the CEO and learn about the corporate objectives. Make sure you understand what the vision for the business is, as well as its overarching strategy.

Then, sit with your peers in the sales and product departments. Find out their unique strategies and how each bubbles up to move the overall business direction forward, so you can ensure your marketing strategy is in alignment across the board.

Gather information on your targets.  Next, dig up as much information as possible on your company’s target markets, accounts and buyers. If the marketing department has previously laid a solid foundation, it should be a breeze to gather these details. But if it’s not, you’ll know right away that your first major initiative needs to be laying this groundwork.

I like to think of this in terms of professional golfers walking the golf course before they tee off for their first round. It’s just a smart way to prepare. In order to have the right strategies in place (and the right corresponding tactics), you have to know what you are working with -- and whom you’re trying to reach.

Gauge your present position. Finally, it’s time to figure out what’s been going on in the marketing department. Work with your team to pull together an inventory of all efforts that have taken place in the past few months, are currently underway or are set to launch within the next month.

Then, review each activity and ask yourself:
-- Was/is the initiative in support of the broader organizational objectives and strategy?
-- Was/is it executed well?  
-- What results did it/will it deliver?

At this point, you should be able to see if there are any “random acts of marketing” in play that don’t correspond to strategy. Get rid of those immediately.

This exercise should also help you identify what areas of the business need bolstering to enable flawless execution, and optimize and prioritize initiatives based on their ability to deliver meaningful results for the business.

It’s a big honor (and incredibly exciting) to step into the role of CMO, but it also brings with it a new level of responsibility and expectation. The best way to set yourself up for success, in the short term and long term, is by getting all the information you’ll need to make smart decisions and dialing in your strategy from the get-go. Here’s to reaching new heights, in your career and in your new company’s marketing achievements.

2 comments about "Your First Day As CMO: 3 Strategic Steps To Take".
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  1. Denyse DRUMMOND-DUNN from C3Centricity, August 10, 2018 at 2:31 p.m.

    Nice piece JT. 
    I often get called in to support new CMOs as they struggle to get up to speed and show their value. Since marketing is still being challenged to prove its ROI, new CMOs are doubly in the spotlight!
    So much so that I was inspired to write a piece myself on how the heads of marketing can keep their jobs. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

  2. JT Bricker from LeadMD replied, August 10, 2018 at 3:31 p.m.

    Thank you Denyse.

    I totally agree that "proving thier value" is one of the, if not the, biggest challenge CMOs face today. We too often help our clients do just that by way of strategic alignment and attribution. A CMO, or any marketer really, has to demonstrate 2 main things. That what they are doing is driving revenue and that the results are aligned with the objectives of the organization.

    I believe the alignment piece is often overlooked in favor of just driving results at any level when those results might not matter to the business. You have to both do the right things (strategy) and do things right (execution). More thoughts here

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