Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A CMO Dilemma: Is Your CEO treating your position like an Agency?

A few weeks ago I was having a drink with Phil Clement, CMO at AON, the multi-billion dollar Risk Management Services Company, and we starting talking about the short tenure and issues of credibility for CMOs. Phil raised an interesting point, he noted, ”one of the problems I see, is the CMO in many companies, is treated like we treat agencies”.

Are you in this situation?
1) New agency review every 2 years. Has your company looked for a new head of marketing every two years?
2) When budget cuts are required, agency budgets get cut first. Is your budget the first to be approached for cuts?
3) Agencies are hired many times for a specific expertise, or “creative ideas” track record, and viewed as a “one trick pony” of expertise and value. Were you hired or promoted for a specific “expertise” or are you always asked by your CEO and other C Level peers for “creative” update?
4) Many times companies hold agencies accountable for delivery then review results in a “dog and pony show” format. Do you tend to rely on “show and tell” videos, print ads, and campaigns?

If so a few suggestions for moving to true “C” level respect and support:
1) If you continually demonstrate results and pull your peers and CEO into ongoing planning and results sessions around revenue, new business, customer engagement and satisfaction, and brand growth, you avoid the annual “Marketing dept. review session”. My experiences show, out of site, means out of mind, and results in an agency approach to your value. Agencies come in periodically and are not viewed as singularly focused on your business. Make sure you are in the conversation all the time and viewed as singularly focused on business success.
2) Make sure you blend your specific marketing “expertise” with demonstrated expertise in business leadership. This comes up in every CMO CLUB dinner yet we still tend to migrate quickly to marketing metrics, marketing vehicle leverage, or new social media for customer interaction. For example, be known by your peers and CEO as the “Branding Expert” AND person that brings products to marketing faster and more successfully than anyone in the company.
3) It’s all about the numbers. Demonstrate not only your ability to deliver revenue, profits, etc. but demonstrate how you leverage metrics to manage day to day progress and change quickly as needed to continue to move the dial. Get out from behind the “high flash” presentations to your peers and CEO and move to a business review format and approach.

These are just a few ideas to get the conversation started. What other advice would CMOs give to avoid getting caught up in the “treated like an agency” dilemma?

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