CMOs – Solve these 5 key business problems in five days

It’s an old phrase, but I’m hearing “That’s what’s keeping me up at night” more and more these days.

Marketing has become extremely challenging and confusing in today’s dramatically different business landscape.

Budget cuts, short term demands, changing business imperatives, programmatic media, mobility, digital, data measurement, and an ‘always’ on’ mentality.  The confusion is coming from every direction.

Here are 5 key business problems that are keeping CMOs that I talk to up at night.

And I’d love to help you cut through and facilitate solutions within 5 days.

Yes it can be done. It just takes the right team, proactive attitude, and actionable collaboration.

1. Pace of change

“The digital world is moving so fast. I can’t seem to keep up with all the change and impact on resources.”

It is very true. Skillsets have changed dramatically. The Marketing Team needs to be focused on sales, be experts in customer engagement, and be dexterous with budgets that simply don’t stretch to everything that it would like to do.

We have lived through a sustained period of outsourcing and now seem to be entering a stage of in-sourcing for key marketing services. In particular SEO, and search engine advertising, as well as programmatic media buying, social media, and creative design to name a few.

So it’s important to slow down in order to speed up. If you continue to run a million miles an hour and just juggle activity, fight fires and implement requests from the leadership team that make you zig zag on your marketing direction, then you’re not being productive.

Take action now

In 5 days, I challenge you to sit down with your marketing leadership team. Assess what is working well and delivering incremental growth. And identify what isn’t working well or is simply holding you back.

Now you may not have all the answers nor the measures to assess. So challenge your team to find answers within 3 days. Then regroup and cull 20% of your activity. That’s 20 projects out of 100! If it’s not performing why keep doing it?

2. Lack of customer understanding

“I have so much data, however I haven’t been able to unearth insights that are driving my business metrics forward”

Many marketers are saying how difficult it is to truly find customer insights.

With the mass of customer information and data that businesses are collecting, it has become almost impossible to gain a true single view of a customer. So marketers have resorted to contextual marketing, giving up on actually finding out what makes a customer universally tick and rather focus on being present in channels, touchpoints and moments when customers act.

Whilst this is acceptable, it seems to me to be a reactive marketing effort. Marketers must get on the front foot and become more proactive. Even in a world where everyone is espousing that customers are in control.

Well, hello hello, businesses still produce products and create services so it is important to take customers on a journey of discovery with your brand.

Take action now

I would challenge CMOs and their teams (including external agency partners) to run a half day workshop to identify all available data (and the associated data fields) being captured.

Then prioritise into 3 groups:

  • data that can help define a customer and like minded group (segment)
  • data that can deepen a relationship (augmented targeting)
  • data that simply is interesting but won’t affect your marketing activity

Then with these prioritised lists of data fields, simply agree which are the top 5 pieces of data that intrinsically differentiate customers or define a specific activity that will drive a business outcome for you.

Armed with these 5 actionable data points, go forth and refine your marketing activity or recalibrate activity around these points.

You’ll be surprised how this will cut through all the activity you are doing and help define actionable insights that deliver on your business outcomes, rather than paddling around in a massive sea of data feeling lost and lacking any real understanding of what makes your customers (and business) tick.

 3. Conflicting KPIs

“My KPIs don’t align to the rest of the business”

Surprisingly this is a line I heard on most projects last year. As businesses struggle to transform from vertical business units (silos) to a matrix approach (vertical and horizontal), it’s no wonder KPIs aren’t aligned.

In many organisations, Marketing doesn’t align to Sales. And according to Aberdeen Research, companies that have strong marketing and sales alignment are likely to achieve on average 20% annual revenue growth. Those that are non-aligned lag at a 4% decline!

Take action now

So it’s a no brainer!

Day 1: Sit down with the Sales Director and confirm the key business imperatives.

Days 2 & 3: Then determine how each other’s activity will deliver on these imperatives and how customers will be managed through handover processes.

Day 4: Armed with this activity, present a united front to the CFO and CEO.

Day 5: You will be amazed at the reception you receive and the gains to be made versus potential conflict, infighting and instability that may currently exist.

4. There is no value in marketing

“Executive Management doesn’t value Marketing as much as other divisions”

Again this was a frequent challenge facing most marketers we worked with last year.

It’s not uncommon. According to research conducted by The Fornaise Group:

  • 73% of CEOs state “marketers lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient growth”.
  • 80% of CEOs simply don’t trust marketers at all
  • However 91% do trust CIOs and CFOs.

When delving into the issue the same finding was unearthed. Marketers have lost sight of what activity actually delivers incremental business growth. And many marketers fail to even measure the business impact of marketing activity.

We see too much focus on fumbling with the latest technologies, worrying about creative executions, and chasing tails in social media.

And the CEOs that we talk to also view this as distraction rather than a productive business focus.

Take action now

The solution sounds simple. And it is.

Day 1: Pull your research insights manager and head of analytics / reporting into a meeting and have them come prepared to identify all the current measures being reported on.

Day 2: After debating the merits of all measures, split them into 3 buckets:

  • Measures that map to business value
  • Measures that map customer value
  • Measures that simply waste time and are never acted on

Day 3: Sit down with specific teams and draft a dashboard that will report on the business and customer value measures.

Day 4: Draft a business case on a page that splits out business measures

Day 5: Sell this clear one-pager on the value of marketing to Executive Management

5. Agency roster madness

“ My agency roster is a little out of control. I don’t even know why we use all these external suppliers”

We recently conducted an assessment for a global property and construction group identifying over 130 agency partners. Their roster had simply got out of control and was being run inefficiently by their various business silos. You can imagine the cost wastage and lack of synergies between all the parties.

If you are running a large agency roster including brand advertising, strategic, digital, media, social, data, design, production and research companies, then it’s time to take stock.

Not only are you wasting money, but you may also be exposed legally. Refer Darren Woolleys’ article on: “TrinityP3’s new guide to television advertising production governance

Take action now

Days 1 – 3: One of the first steps is to take stock and actually identify the current state. Identify ALL the external agencies being utilized by your organisation. This is across the whole business and goes well beyond your marketing department.

You may be surprised, like another client of ours was, when 3 external data/research companies were being utilized by 3 different divisions with major project overlaps.

Day 4: Agree the rationality of each supplier and what level it is in terms of strategic or executional.

Day 5: Identify the total cost of strategic versus executional agencies to your business. If you are happy with the split then operate as usual. We have never seen a client who was. The numbers are generally a major surprise and a roster rationalization process is needed.

As always, TrinityP3 can assist you if you require independent advice and facilitation.

However we’d also love to hear if you have other major issues keeping you up at night?

I wonder what’s your major concern?


To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with any of these challenges, click here.