CMOs today have the shortest life span in the C-Suite according to recent research. It’s hard to be a CMO today, with increasing responsibilities and mounting pressures to be accountable. To ensure CMOs keep their seat at the boardroom table, while trying to navigate all the changes, CMOs need to show progress. As Katherine and I have grown Allocadia, we have had to navigate fast-paced change while also experiencing increased responsibilities. We couldn’t have gotten this far without progress. Progress doesn’t mean showing all your results immediately — it means setting a path and moving in the right direction. So CMOs, here are ways you can experience progress and help ensure your seat at the table:
- Determine “What does it mean for us to win”: We recently had a leadership team offsite where we collaborated on “What does it mean for us to win?” We focused on building a slide that defines this for Allocadia. What will success look like for us? Is ”winning” a revenue number or a target number of customers? Is it a certain level of profitability or depth of brand recognition? By being clear on what success is, CMOs can begin to work towards achieving it – and that is progress. Don’t overcomplicate the planning process or get stuck there. Try to define ‘winning’ with just one slide, and revisit this as need be. Determine the milestones and strategic initiatives that help you reach your end goal. Remember, accomplishing each milestone is progress.
- Make tough calls (and be ok with changing them): In order to experience progress in a world of rapid change, leaders, (especially CMOs) have to get comfortable with “making calls” (or taking calculated risks). There are often dozens of tough decisions CMOs have to make on any given day. To ensure you are making progress, choose your specific path, direction and initiatives, and be clear about them to your team. Support those decisions throughout your team, but remember to always remain flexible. My father-in-law worked with growing businesses, and he always said there was a distinct difference between the successful businesses and the non-successful ones. The leaders at both made tough calls and took calculated risks, but the successful businesses had leaders who recognized when they made a wrong decision and changed or refined it. The non-successful ones stayed the course. It’s always better to take a slight detour, than a major step backwards to progress.
- Don’t forget the basics: In a recent customer webinar, IDC stated, “marketing has skipped over the basics of operational data”. Sometimes focusing on the basics means progress. To be a CMO today doesn’t always mean solely focusing on the latest and greatest campaign. The basics of running your marketing business help you set the foundation for progress. We hear this from our customers who use Allocadia to help them manage those basics like budgeting and planning.
- Embrace uncertainty: Don’t think you can only experience progress when everything is clear and you know exactly what the path ahead holds. Progress often means uncertainty and CMOs need to learn to embrace that sometimes uncomfortable situation. In a previous post in this series, I wrote on the importance of not focusing solely on the outcome. As a CMO, you may not know the exact route to get to your “what does it mean for us to win” slide, or even what the exact outcome is. There may be a few different outcomes that are positive and good for the business. So, don’t worry too much about the exact plan or even the path to that plan. Be comfortable with uncertainty, as that can still mean progress.
- Hire great people: When my sister and I founded Allocadia, we always heard successful leaders say “people are everything”. As we look at the rapid growth company we have become today, we understand and couldn’t agree more. Having a great team has been the only way we were able to scale and move our company forward. By hiring great people to help Katherine and I build Allocadia in different areas, we experienced progress, because quite simply, we couldn’t do it all. Great people equals progress.
As CEO of Allocadia, I’ve had to learn to lead in a rapidly growing, fast-moving market. And as marketers building Allocadia, we have learned a lot about selling to CMOs: their needs and challenges, and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in this new Marketing 2.0 world. This Leading in Change: CEO Blog Series is intended to help inspire CMOs and marketing operations to lead and build data-driven marketing organizations.