4 Things Every CMO Wants Their CEO to Know


stressed CMO

Real talk: CEOs have a tough job.

The pressure to please every stakeholder, make every dollar count, and increase profitability is intense—more intense than most who don’t hold the chief executive position realize. 

This is part of why so many CEOs have internalized the belief that every function of a business must be measurable in order to be beneficial. And that includes marketing—which, no matter how much data is available to us, will never be 100% measurable. 

This puts CMOs in a tough spot. In fact, CMO turnover rate is the highest among members of the C-suite, with the average CMO staying at a company between 35-41 months. That’s not good for anyone—not the CMO, not the CEO, and certainly not the business itself. 

To keep this from happening at your company, you’ve got to change the conversation—and that means changing your expectations. Here are four things you’ve got to let go of in order to let your CMO, and your brand, succeed. 

Realize you don’t have control over the customer journey—and neither does your CMO.

The person in control of the B2B buyer journey nowadays is the buyer. Full stop. 

It used to be that your salespeople could guide the buyer along fairly closely. They’d start with a prospect list, make a few calls, secure a demo with one or two, and move that prospect along with multiple touchpoints along the way.

That’s not the case anymore. 

Instead, your prospects are more than 80% of the way through their buyer journey by the time you even know they exist. 

They’ve researched you and your competitors online, they’ve compared features and prices (here’s hoping you’ve got that information easily available on your site!), and they’ve narrowed their search down to a few options with the rest of the buying committee. 

Now they just need your sales team to facilitate a purchase. 

So where in this process does marketing come in? 

Before those prospects even start looking for you. 

Your B2B brand needs a strong, bold presence online that will convince buyers that you’re the brand they want to work with before they get in touch with you. Content marketing is key here because that’s how you give prospects the information they need to continue on that journey with you. 

You need content geared toward every step of the buyer journey, from awareness to consideration and purchase. 

Remember: If a prospect can’t find what they need to know on their own, they’re more likely to move on to your competitor than they are to get in touch with your sales team. 

Bottom line: You don’t get to control the journey, or even get to know every touchpoint. 

What you should be doing, however, is investing in increasing your share of voice so that wherever your prospects are when they’re making a choice between you and a competitor, they’re choosing you. 

This also means that you can’t measure the value in dollars of every single piece of B2B content, every B2B PR mention, or every hour your marketing department spends crafting a brand awareness campaign. 

It’s true that this may feel uncomfortable. But by freeing up your CMO to make decisions based on what’s actually going to help your brand meet its goals, rather than only what’s measurable, you’ll see better, more sustainable results that grow your brand over the long term. 

After all, if you’re not doing what your CMO knows is necessary in order to lead prospects through the majority of their buyer journey—putting out high-value, informative content, and investing in PR so your brand stays top of mind—you can be certain that you’re losing out on a huge number of prospects before they even get out of the research stage. 

If your board or the rest of your executive team expects this kind of measurement, you’ll have to do some evangelizing to convert them to this way of thinking. Just remember that if you convey trust in your CMO, your board and C-suite will be far more likely to trust her, as well. 

Don’t push them to stalk your customers.

Maybe you’ve seen the episode of Modern Family where Claire and Cam are trying to flip a house, so they stalk the customer online to “cater the house” to his needs. 

They go a bit too far and when the buyer finds it all too creepy during the showing (how did they know his dog’s name?), he’s out. 

The modern customer doesn’t want you to know their dog’s name (well, unless they’re buying dog food from you) or what they had for dinner last night. They don’t want you responding to their every click on your website with a personalized follow-up email.

Related post: The No-Fail Recipe to Email Marketing Success

Now, you could still insist that your CMO have their staff find this information and that every marketing campaign be targeted within an inch of its life. It’s possible to do so, with the data that’s currently available. 

But it won’t bring you more customers. In fact, it could drive away some of the ones you already have.

Instead, focus on the kind of personalization that allows you to serve them content, ads, and social posts that are relevant to their interests and needs. For example, if a prospect took one of your webinars, you could email them about your latest whitepaper on the same topic.

Related post: The Death of Third-Party Cookies: What It Means for B2B Brands, and What to Do About It

Drop the micromanagement.

No one likes to be micromanaged, especially when they’ve been entrusted with running an entire department. 

If you trust your CMO, you should feel good about letting them do their job. If you don’t, that’s cause for a different conversation. 

However, if you do trust them, but feel uncomfortable without an ongoing stream of metrics showing you how the marketing campaigns are performing, consider this. Metrics are nice, but they hardly ever tell the full story. 

Many prospects will read your whitepaper, but they won’t reach out to sales right after. They’ll see your ad, but they won’t click on it. They’ll read that feature on your company in Forbes, but they’re not going to email you and tell you that they did. 

If your CMO knows what he’s doing, then you can trust that a huge amount of brand awareness and amplification is going on behind the scenes, before you see actual sales or conversions. 

Stepping back and allowing your CMO to do the work he or she knows how to do is one of the best ways to grow your brand and prevent CMO burnout at the same time. Don’t have a CMO right now? We offer virtual CMO services. Get in touch here!  


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