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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Mar 16, 2005
How To

SPECIAL REPORT: How to Market to Chief Marketing Officers

SUMMARY: Do you market products or services to marketing leaders at large companies? Just because you're also a marketer yourself doesn't necessarily mean you understand them. We created this special research-based report for you, detailing the motivations, fears, and passions of a typical CMO. You'll understand what wakes a CMO up in the middle of the night and how your benefits should be pitched to appeal to them. Plus, which lead gen offers work best for this job function. Must-read if CMOs are your target market... also kind of fun if you're a CMO yourself (do you fit the...
By Correspondent Dianna Huff

Gone are the days when marketing was tolerated as "voodoo science" requiring mega bucks that disappeared into the ether with nothing to show for the expense. Today's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is under the gun to be accountable and produce results -- with budgets and departments that have been slashed to the bone.

The typical CMO who works for larger companies ($250M in revenues or more) generally has about 20 years of marketing and sales experience, makes an average salary of $190,000-$210,000, and may or may not hold an MBA. The majority of CMOs are male (58% versus 42% female) and report directly to the CEO.

With a seat at the "big table" comes greater responsibility. The expectations and requirements of the CMO position have been raised considerably: today's CMO is accountable for business performance, including revenue and margin goals, and strategies for long-term business growth.

In addition to thinking strategically, a CMO is usually responsible for a number of direct reports: product management, marketing communications (marcom), business development/strategic alliances, and sometimes, customer support.

Yet despite this increased stature and responsibility, a typical CMO gig lasts less than two years, according to research by Spencer Stuart. Time is of the essence for a new CMO: they have a very brief period to prove themselves.

Today's CMO -- let's name her Jill -- has her work cut out for her. If she's new to the company, and she most likely is because management lost faith in the last CMO, she may be facing an immediate crisis such as a failed brand or plummeting market share. She's also being scrutinized by everyone, from the CEO to the guy in the mailroom. And, she's expected to achieve a balance between short-term wins and long-term strategy.

On top of that, Jill is facing intense pressure to prove -- scientifically with data -- that her marketing programs are paying off.

Because Jill is responsible for a portfolio of "fuzzy" marketing activities that enhance brand perception, preference, attitude and personality, she is often at odds with her new best friend, the CFO, who wants to spend money only on clearly quantifiable marketing activities that directly result in a measurable return on investment.

Like many CMOs, Jill is stuck with data silos and departmental squabbles. Sure, she can rattle off the results for her direct marketing, Internet and telemarketing campaigns. But she hesitates when asked for results on her branding, channel marketing, sales and marketing collateral and advertising programs.

It's no surprise that CMOs want metrics around revenue, bookings, and qualified leads. According to a June 2004 CMO Council survey, 90% of those surveyed said Marketing Performance Measurement (MPM) is a high or moderate priority.

But CMOs also want metrics on sales and channel feedback, marketing program ROI and customer retention, and loyalty and satisfaction. Show a CMO how to measure these attributes and you're golden.

Which brings us to the crux of the CMO's problem. Despite Jill's desire to measure and articulate the benefit of her marketing programs, she most likely cannot because she either lacks the tools, the time, or the support to develop a complete and comprehensive accounting of her company's marketing programs.

Indeed, according to the CMO Council survey, only 17% of surveyed companies have formal MPM systems in place.

In another survey, this one by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Forrester Research, 78% of respondents said, "measuring the sales impact of marketing was difficult," and most couldn't even agree on the definition of ROI.

Add to this a low awareness of solution providers in the MPM market -- only 21% of survey respondents could name an MPM vendor -- and you can see Jill needs some help.

Yet 60% of surveyed companies intend to increase the amount of money they spend on MPM over the next two years.

So how do you reach Jill? And how can you help her succeed?

Like most CMOs, Jill is a busy woman and is rarely at her desk. She is expected to be involved in everything at once and if she's new to the job, she's out meeting people and garnering support or visiting the "front lines" to hear firsthand what customers are saying. She's working 60-hour weeks.

Jill spends 80-90% of her day in meetings -- which leaves just a few hours to return phone calls and email, review and revise documents, and produce deliverables for that avalanche of meetings she's attended.

Because Jill relies heavily on email, she may have an assistant filtering her messages in addition to phone calls. (CMOs rarely answer their landline desk phones.) Yet, despite the presence of a gatekeeper, email and direct mail are the best ways to reach Jill -- provided the strategy and execution are top-notch.

If you get her attention initially, you have about 10-15 seconds to hold it. What can you do to ensure you break through the clutter?

Let's start with what not to do:

Don't #1. It should go without saying that marketing savvy CMOs are highly resistant to the standard "fodder" companies still send out. Run-of-the-mill collateral coupled with vague benefits statements such as, "We'll help you increase your bottom line," will be instantly trashed.

Don't #2. An "email blast" to Jill (and hundreds of other CMOs) is equally ineffective.

Don't #3. All-day seminars or technical presentations will not tempt Jill. She simply does not have time.

Don't #4. Direct mail offers for a white paper or low-end premiums will not get Jill's attention or respect -- either because she doesn't have time to read them or because if she's seen one tchotchke, she's seen them all.

"Break through the clutter" strategies

Because of their marketing savvy, CMOs are more appreciative of good marketing than any other audience and will take action and accept meetings with companies that "do it right" the first time. What does work?

Do #1. Presentations and seminars aimed at helping the CMO do a better job.

According to Brian Burch, CMO Raindance Communications, makers of Web conferencing software, using webinars to market to CMOs isn't as novel as it used to be. Yet, Raindance has generated 8,000 top marketer leads in the past six months with a webinar campaign.

How? Celebrity business speakers focusing squarely at CMOs' pain points. Says Burch, "We gave CMOs an A-list of presenters on topics that resonated with them -- from how to speak to CFOs to how CMOs can better legitimize their position. Of course, we used our Web conferencing software to hold these meetings, but not once did we talk about it. Response has been phenomenal."

Do #2. CMOs will also attend "well-heeled" events such as executive breakfasts with big name speakers or half-day C-level presentations that include an afternoon of golf with their peers at a country club. Part of the appeal may be networking both for ideas and for their next job.

Do #3. High-end direct mail premiums and clever creative also work well. Think silver martini shakers, cut crystal glasses, or high-end gadgetry like telescopes.

Do #4. Concise, personalized emails that identify a business problem the CMO knows he has or convinces him he'll soon have -- coupled with suggestions on how you've solved the problem for other relevant businesses the CMO actually knows or has heard of.

Read your message with the eye of the CMO -- he is interested in defining and reaching a set objective. How will you help him achieve it? (Of course, you need to understand what the CMO's objectives are before you send out this type of email.)

Do #5. Advice on how a CMO markets herself internally -- ie. help with upper management politics.

According to Mohanbir S. Sawhney, Director of the Center for Research in Technology & Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management, "Marketing departments try hard to market the firm's offerings to customers, but they do a very poor job of marketing themselves internally to the leadership team and to other departments."

If you can help the CMO impress the CFO, CSO and CEO, you'll not only win gratitude, but also perhaps a longer-term customer.

Useful links related to this article:

CMO Magazine: http://www.cmomagazine.com

CMO Council : http://www.cmocouncil.org

Salary info: http://www.salary.com

Gender demographics: http://www.princetonreview.com

Spencer Stuart's presentation -- A blueprint for top marketers' 100 days: http://www.spencerstuart.com/research/articles/803/

Raindance Communications: http://www.raindance.com

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