From the outside, the life of a CMO sounds super glamorous with board meetings, flying out to different meetings (perhaps in private jets), media interviews, and so on. But the reality is just their life is not any different than any other mid level or specialist marketer. As our guest Darryl Praill adds “I just think it’s you know we’re just dealing with maybe a little more responsibility. We’re dealing with bigger staff. Definitely a much much bigger budget. And I definitely have to be accountable to the board of directors and to my peers and the executive team.”
So just as Peter Parker famously said “With more comes more responsibility” so for a CMO the buck stops at them. If the digital team is not driving enough traffic or leads or conversions then the sales team will not have enough leads to work with. And if sales are down then the CMO is going to have to take the heat.
The Average Tenure of a CMO is 18 Months
No wonder then that there is so much CMO turnover as the average tenure of a CMO is just 18 months. So anytime someone has been in the CMO role for over a few years then they deserve a hat tip. The success of a CMO depends a lot on how fast they can hit the ground running in the first 3 months. That usually paves the way for future success. So if a CMO really convinced themselves that they have a runway of say 3 to 6 months and they have to prove within that time frame then their probability for a longer tenure goes up considerably.So that's it you better make an impact within that first six months minimally and by a year you better be able to demonstrate a huge ROI in your activities - Darryl Praill Click To Tweet
To ensure that the CMO is setting themselves for success, Darryl suggests the following:
1. Execution – Always make sure that your team is executing the programs and campaigns on time and on budget. And if they’re not gonna fix that. And if we’re not expecting the desired ROI we’re not getting the desired results. Maybe a campaign is to do a webinar. And we’re not getting enough registrations then to troubleshoot with them and how to drive registration so that’s that’s the tactical hands on that every CMO should be well versed with. To roll up their sleeves and get it done.
2. Communication – You are communicating with your sales counterparts on the lead flow and the quality of the leads to make sure you’re in alignment and they’re actually following up on the leads marketing gave them. Make sure that the service level agreement between marketing and sales is being upheld every single day. For example, my head of sales and I talk multiple times a day on that front
3. Accountability – As I said the CEO and the board to make sure we’re delivering upon strategic initiatives and we’re progressing forward. And I better hit those milestones or I’m in trouble. A CMO has to be accountable to the CEO, the board and their shareholders.
4. Last thing is I’m making sure that me personally and making sure that the company is getting the awareness and the visibility it needs whether that be in the press or on social media. Essentially making sure that we are building the brand.
But the one thing I do all day long is I communicate, I manage expectations, I do with my team, so I manage down, I do with my colleagues and managers across, And I do it with the people who might my overlords if you will. So I manage up and I am constantly constantly. Communicating.
How Can Marketing be the Revenue Driver in the Company?
This is a goal for every marketing leader. There is a long held belief that marketing is a cost center with sunk costs but marketing can drive revenues at every step of the way. Sure marketers don’t close deals like sales does but marketing plays a huge assist role.
I asked Darryl this question and his response was “It again boils down to managing expectations. The first thing I did at Vanilla Soft was I identified who the stakeholders are and I went around and asked them a very simple question “What do you expect from marketing and what will have happened from your point of view in 3, 6 to 12 months to say that Darryl was a great hire?”
This is a simple yet powerful question as it sets the expectations with other stakeholders within the company and also provides the CMO with a blueprint from which they can operate. This way marketing can devise strategic plans that aligns with each C level stakeholders within the company. And the beauty of this is every stakeholder will provide their own 3-5 objectives which again helps the CMO to create a roadmap for success. It also allows the CMO to build a relationship with each individual stakeholder and make them a part of the marketing process.
Building Your Marketing Team – The Core Pillars
A leader is only as good as their team. Nowhere is this more truer than when it comes to building a marketing team. There are some core pillars on which the foundation of future success depends on. For some leaders, the branding team is critical, for others it is the digital team and for many others it is the ops team. So I asked Darryl on what he considers to be the core pillars of his marketing team.
His response “A couple of things I did right away. I made sure I had a Marketing Operations team. A team who could run all my tech stack and ensure that my website was up to date.
Anything that we do say from a content creation or what or what not that my OPs team is able to do the correct analysis. Keyword Analysis, keyword optimization so you know if I am going to write a blog or a very bright piece of content and go back to my ops team and say what are the right keywords to follow on this. Yada yada yada. I’ll make sure we set it up in the systems so office is huge especially in marketing automation but also things like SEO. Also things. Just around optimizing all your content that’s huge.
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Second thing I did. Was I hired a campaign person, you’re going to physically make sure that we have a regular, schedule of campaigns that and that we’re optimized on our processes. So we have a repeatable process. So this is really important. So if you think about this for a second, I have one individual or one team of individuals who all they do is campaigns rinse and repeat every month. And another one to make sure all my systems are working so I can measure. Then between them and got them together to say okay do we have is our data healthy. Do we have an agreement on how we want to track our progress. What are the channels we’re going to track. Is it email. Is it you know search engine marketing is it SEO, is it advance. And then within that what are my lead sources, my lead sub sources, what are my target verticals. Do we have a dictionary of all the terms that we can measure across the board. And then do we have templates of processes that we can rinse and repeats of any one of you got hit by a bus. We’re good to go. So this was my foundation I did right away. And that whole making sure the data was clean and the data structure the data dictionary was consistent as it was an editor process that took us candidly a year and a half to get right because what always happens is about three months or six months later someone’s going to ask you a question, you’re going to go, well sugar, we didn’t track that.”
How Should a Marketing Leader Go About Hiring and Retaining their Team?
There has been reams and reams of content and data written on this topic but this is a core part of every CMO’s role. Most times a CMO is brought into a company with hardly any marketing talent so then the first many months are spent on attracting and hiring talent. Conversely, if a team is already in place then the CMO also likes to bring their own set of people they have worked with before. Either way, attracting and hiring the right talent is critical. And it doesn’t have to be all A players. The best leaders are the ones who can take a B player and make them into A or A+ player. But how would you go about doing that? I asked Darryl this question and here is what he had to say:
“I’m a firm believer that if you’ve got the right foundation the right natural curiosity in desire to understand how to become a master of your craft. But you’re only at a B. I can coach you. I can give you the opportunity I give you the budget to make you and A. So what I look at first and foremost is I look at some some stupid basic things and earn a lot of money and tell you this but it’s a marketing thing and came when I get your CV. There better not be a typo on I don’t care how kickass you are. There’s a typo on it. You’re gone and you could be a developer and that’s OK. But in marketing. No typos, grammar has got to be hot. I look at your CV and I look at the soft skills. Okay.
How does this CV laid out? do I. Do I see it. Is it got a visual balance to it? Do I see a rhyme and reason and why they’ve done it this way. Do I see a call to action? Does this CV express that no matter that’s the first job at a school they’ve been doing this for 20 years that they just have a knack around marketing. I don’t care what your background is. If it has that you’ve got my attention then I do the next thing and go on LinkedIn and I say Are you on LinkedIn. What is your profile look like. Are you posting or are you connected with. If I see that you’re actually just there. OK, so he understands and I’m going to go on Twitter do the same thing but he’s linked in for us on b2b, right away. You’re a rockstar you are in that top 5 percent already. So now it’s just let’s have a conversation one on one and if I dig you. If I like you, know then then you’re in on it. I’ll take a b and I will. I will make you an A. I will give you that opportunity.
How Much Time Should a CMO Spend on Coaching and Mentoring their Team?
“I want my team to have the big picture so they can see how their contribution fits into the overall picture” Darryl Praill on Leadership and Getting your team involved.
Every CMO has their own unique style of coaching and mentoring their team. After all, it is not just about hitting numbers and driving sales numbers but learning and providing everyone the chance to move up the food chain. And a CMO is also measured on how well they have done their succession planning. This is a topic that is very close to my heart so I can write a 100 page book on it but I wanted to get Darryl’s inputs on what is his approach. Here are the two ways he ensures he is playing an active role.
Weekly staff meetings – I like to make sure everybody knows what’s going on and why we’re doing things. So even though again I become concerned read the content writer doesn’t care what we’re doing on a trade show. They’re writing their white papers and their e-books. I want them to know what’s going on and why that matters. I want them to have the big picture so they can see how their contribution fits into the overall picture. So I use that as a soft coaching and mentoring side. I also use that as a chance to let others speak up. Oh you know so. So you’ve done a great job here. Tell us what you did there. Or what do you think we should do here. So I like to have the team. Work collaboratively to brainstorm issues. So that’s kind of just to keep the team mojo going and keep them working together. So that’s kind of the big picture.
One on one coaching – if I see they need it I will proactively do it but for the most part I’m like I’m reactive right. So if you know if they come to me with again maybe an e-book I’ll say OK now. You know you can do with this. You know you should’ve done with this, you know you know what’s the next step. You need to talk to so-and-so and so-and-so because we can take this and now we can take this e-book and we can make it a podcast, we can make it a webinar we can go to PPC and we can actually do a campaign around it and we can do the whole thing and this is all because your piece of content your e-book rocks. So let’s work with them together. You get exposed to that. So I like to cross pollinate a lot. But no I do not have, like my sales background I would intentionally roll pay role play with my reps every day every week. There’s no roleplaying going on here on the marketing side. No I buy go to them every day. I try to go every day and say you know what’s up. What are we doing. Any questions, need anything for me.
New Marketing Technologies CMO’s should be on the look out for in the next 1 or 2 years.
Now, no conversation with a CMO is complete without asking them to look into their crystal ball to see what they see the future of marketing is like. Ur guest Darryl was excited about two things specifically around:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Buyer Intent Signals