Describe your idea of a modern CMO. Now ask someone else. Now ask another person. See all the different ideas that come together?
If one person were able to meet all those requirements of a CMO, they’d be about as rare as a unicorn. I’m not sure anyone can live up to expectations, but I know one CMO who gets pretty close!
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- The incredibly vast challenges of being a CMO
- Why building relationships with every other department is vital to a CMO’s role
- How to prioritize your resources as a marketing leader
- Getting promoted to marketing leadership
- What to look for, and how to hire, a marketing team
How would you describe the role of a modern CMO?
Meagen: I often think about when you go to the circus, and there’s a bunch of plates that a performer is spinning. There are a lot more plates than people think in marketing. Often times, people think it’s just events or just digital or just social media. But you also have product marketing, content, corporate marketing, field marketing, brand … You also have all the social media channels, your website, 40 or 50 different systems, sales hand-offs, plus partnerships and all the tech that goes around all that.
So, there are tons of different things you must keep spinning in the air. Plus, you’ve got to get them all working together. As a CMO, you must be able to hire in all of those functions, and they’re all very different types of people and roles.
I think it’s a wonderful challenge, but something that good CMOs have to figure out is how hire their team and then get them to integrate and then produce at a very rapid pace.
How do you prioritize what needs to be done as a marketer?
Meagen: Everyone has feedback, everyone has ideas, everyone secretly wants to be a marketer, because there’s a lot of fun around it. It never stops on the feedback side. And you have to be very good about prioritizing and setting expectations, and be satisfied that you’re never going to be perfect in every aspect. You have to find satisfaction, and hope you’ve prioritized correctly and that you’re measuring and showing the results and moving the needle.
At the end of the day, if you’re not building the pipeline and you’re not hitting your revenue targets, you’re not going to last long.
So, prioritize what’s going to help you get there.
Sales partnerships: Think about the work you need to do — clearly, you’ve got to partner with sales teams, support them, create pipeline for them, create a market for them, and create engagement.
Customer success interactions: There’s also your interactions with your customer success team, because you must consider the whole life cycle. You have to ensure customers are having a good experience, that you’re upselling and cross-selling and that you’re keeping them happy. You want them out there advocating, which is bringing more people into your funnel.
Internal marketing: Then there’s a lot of work you do with HR, when you think about employment branding. Your overall brand is not just to your customers, not just sales and customer success, but it is the community and the world of hiring. If you don’t have a solid brand, how do you go hire engineers and more sales people and HR and operations and finance?
Finally, there’s product. There is a lot of responsibility being tied to product because you have to know what’s coming, how to launch, and your competitive differentiation. So you’re spending a lot of time with the product team as well, because you’ve got to know the roadmap in order to tell the story and be a leader in the market.
Then, of course with engineers, making sure the feedback you’re hearing and partnering with your product marketing and product team to loop that back. Plus, innovating and coming up with new ideas.
There’s really not one organization you don’t work with closely, including finance, because if you don’t get a budget, you’re not doing anything.
What are your top lessons for marketing leaders?
Meagen: I think a lot about hiring. Hire problem-solvers, because at every stage, you need people who can not only identify the problem, but you want people that come in and say, Here’s how I’m going to go solve it.
2nd lesson: Your peer set is not just marketing — it’s the CFO, the head of engineering, the head of sales. You’re only going to be successful if you’ve got very strong relationships with your peers at the C-level.
How should someone go about getting promoted in marketing?
Meagen: I get these questions a lot: How do I get promoted? How do I get there? What’s my plan? I think it comes back to problem-solving and getting stuff done. My manager or leadership team would say: She’s got this — can she also take on field marketing? Oh, she’s got that — can she also takes on the website? She’s got that, can she take on … ?
You need to be someone who they know can handle big, ugly, messy problems.
What doesn’t work is when I have someone on my team who’s always busy. How am I going to give them more responsibility? And when you want to go up in your career, it means more responsibility.
1: One big idea I took away is: You’ve got to be good at prioritization. The way you defined that was: If you’re not clear on pipeline and revenue, and how you’re driving those, the rest is going to fall apart
2: The other big idea I highlighted was that marketing is actually a linchpin for the rest of the organization. It’s not just the relationship with your sales counterpart, but also HR, product, the CFO — everybody.
To hear more from Meagen, connect with her on LinkedIn.