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Effective Leadership Strategies for Chief Marketing Officers

CMOs have to balance their responsibility to drive business performance and brand development over the long-run, with the need for short-term results. In the quick-turn world of CMOs, sometimes tactics drive strategies. Seth Godin does a nice job of illustrating a world dependent on tactics in “when tactics drown out strategy.” Everyone needs results NOW, so CMOs are often stuck in the loop of trying to drive immediate results instead of creating a plan that could work but may take months to come to fruition.

According to Greg Welch of Spencer Stuart, the average Chief
Marketing Officer tenure in 2008 was 28 months, up four months since
2004. In comparison, the average CIO lasts 38 months, and no other
c-level executive checks in under 46.  Earlier this year, Forbes.com
discussed why Chief Marketing Officers have a short life.

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CMOs have to balance their responsibility to drive business
performance and brand development over the long-run, with the need for
short-term results.  In the quick-turn world of CMOs, sometimes tactics
drive strategies. Seth Godin does a nice job of illustrating a world
dependent on tactics in “when tactics drown out strategy.” 
Everyone needs results NOW, so CMOs are often stuck in the loop of
trying to drive immediate results instead of creating a plan that could
work but may take months to come to fruition.

For aspiring CMOs, newly appointed CMOs, or those who have managed
to survive in this difficult environment, we share our perspective on
key areas of focus in providing marketing leadership.

The Customer is #1
Your customer is the buyer and the decision maker.  The best CMOs
immerse themselves in the customer mindset.  Learn as much as you can
about your customer through research, collecting customer data,
considering competitive options, and understanding the overall market
reality from your customer’s perspective.  Beyond this, great marketers
proactively get out of the office and get out of the conference/focus
group rooms to watch consumers in their homes, in their cars and
offices, in the retail environments.  Watching the consumer interact
with the brand (or competing brand offerings) in real-life yields
observations (reactions, emotions, work-arounds, combinations with
other products/services) that offer insight into the “real” concerns,
issues, and joys of the consumer – and the things that that are often
unable to articulate.

This may sound obvious and easy, but it can be quite challenging. 
There are so many channels to listen to your customer.  For example,
are you doing a good job of monitoring customer feedback online?  Are
your databases advanced?  Are you asking the right questions in focus
groups?  Are you even talking to the right customer groups (don’t
underestimate the importance of segmentation, targeting, and consumer
profiles).  Bottom line: make it a priority to talk to current and
prospective customer to understand why they love/hate your product
along with the competitors.

Make an Emotional Connection
Imagine that you are providing commentary to a Japanese tourist at a
Russian wedding and your native language is English. Indeed, sometimes
it seems like you need to be a world-class interpreter in order to
effectively market.  The bride and groom speak Russian and embody
Russian mores, habits, etc. The tourist speaks Japanese and embodies
those mores, habits, etc. Now you must take the essence of this joyous
occasion in Russian and convey the full emotional aspect to the
Japanese tourist. The fact is that businesses and customers don’t
always speak the same language, but…

To read more about effective chief marketing officer strategies, go to Sparxoo, a digital marketing, branding and business development.