Author: Dan Steiner

CMOs Should Leverage Identity Confirmation Tools to Validate Stakeholder Sign-Off

As an outside marketing consultant working in the corporate arena, much of my day is spent chasing down approvals for campaigns, ad schemes and promotions. Even career, in-house marketing gurus struggle at times with the many sign-offs that are needed to move a project forward.

Allow me to offer a brief word of advice to companies looking to leverage the fresh perspective of an outside consultant:

Please, streamline the approval process as much as possible. Most outside consultants have chosen this path because they enjoy the freedom of performing their craft outside of the traditional corporate hierarchy. Creative spontaneity is what gives a new ad campaign wings. And nothing makes me regret taking on a new client more than being subject to the whims of fifteen different stakeholders and their endless, asynchronous requests for revisions.

The First Challenge is Confirming that Sign-Off Has Been Granted

One of my more frustrating experiences came during my birth by fire into the corporate arena. Our team created a powerful brand refresh; complete with concepts for YouTube videos, new social media pages, reactive animation ads and landing pages.

The only thing that was missing was a VR campaign – something that Mack managed to dominate with their Mack Anthem rollout.

During individual conversations with each stakeholder, I gained their verbal approval to move forward. And, of course, there were requests for minor tweaks along the way. Once these tweaks were incorporated, I asked for a meeting to present our concept to the entire leadership team.

Half-way through the meeting, as I hit play on our YouTube video concepts, I started to hear some grumbling from the back of the room. For the remainder of the presentation, this low conversational buzz continued. Finally, it was time for input – something I had hoped would come in the form of a quick thumbs up.

Boy, was I wrong. Nearly every member of the c-suite started in with their concerns. It was a disaster. I had to try and rebuild the entire campaign from scratch. There were just too many objections, and each one pulled the project in a different direction. Reconciling everything would be a challenge, and it was just easier to hit restart.

I’ve since learned my lesson. Getting verified sign-off from each member of the c-suite requires a lot more than a verbal commitment from each decision-maker.

Use Third-Party Verification to Confirm Sign-Off

There are many ways to authenticate an e-signature. The main things that I look for in an e-signature solution are:

  1. Does it allow for stakeholders to sign-off from anywhere?

  2. Does it require some sort of challenge, to confirm that the stakeholder is signing-off, and not one of their executive assistants?

  3. Can I easily access the executed document from any device?

  4. If a revision is made, can I easily highlight the changes and gain an electronic sign-off for those changes from each stakeholder?

This may sound extreme, but you’ll find that when you’re working with a diverse team of decision-makers, you need them to execute their sign-off privileges responsibly. This tool, which is legally the same as a handwritten signature, grabs the attention of decision-makers. They take an extra moment to look things over and ensure that they really are happy with what they’re signing off on – something that dramatically reduces last minute objections to things they previously overlooked.

Everyone on the team, whether a stakeholder or an outside consultant, has an endless list of fires to put out – demanding immediate attention and distracting from the organizational goals. As an outsider coming into the fray, it’s best to carefully document interactions with each key decision-maker. This not only ensures that their input is taken into consideration, but helps you to earn their attention at critical moments.

For more tips, tools, and hacks to make your life as a marketer easier- join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions geared to equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here

 

Strategies for CMOs to Protect the Golden Playbook

CMOs have a tough enough job as it is. The way that consumers interact with their brands is changing at lightning speed. And there’s the constant drumbeat of new technology disrupting traditional advertising channels.

To keep up with the rapid pace of change, it’s tempting to broaden the circle and find new perspectives to help create fresh marketing strategies. But, you need to balance this gut instinct with the reality that your marketing strategies are your company’s nuclear launch codes.

If a proactive competitor knows how you’ll spend your ad budget, and what the messages will be, you’re sunk.

The Threat of Corporate Espionage is Real – Especially in Marketing

Examples of corporate espionage aren’t difficult to find. However, companies usually don’t broadcast the fact that they’ve suffered a marketing team defection. So, the overwhelming majority of these events remain in the shadows.

I’ve had to clean-up the aftermath of a rogue marketing employee jumping ship. While I would never embarrass that client here, I’ll just share that the former ad placement specialist was offered a $40,000 sign-on bonus by a competitor. Eventually the employee was sued for violation of their NDA, but it was an expensive legal battle. Not to mention the cost of rewriting the entire marketing playbook from scratch.

Some of the most highly publicized acts of corporate espionage involve attacks on U.S. businesses by Chinese intelligence operatives. The relationship between China’s businesses and government is very different than the corporate / government landscape in the US.

From marketing plans to corporate negotiating strategies, the threat of a breach is always there. It’s always better to invest in safeguards, rather than suffer through an expensive clean-up. 

CMOs Need to Build a Digital Moat Around Their Marketing Intel

There are a number of ways that CMOs can better defend their marketing data against bad actors.

Data Encryption

Data encryption involves the use of complex algorithms to encode information in storage and in transit. Once information is encrypted, it can only be decoded by other authorized devices with the key. Even if the data is intercepted, or firewalls are breached, the information is unreadable.

While it is possible for quantum computers to run a series of tests until the right combination of variables are found, it would take months or even years for the mathematical puzzle to be solved.

Protecting Data in the Field

If you’re anything like me, you live a mobile lifestyle. I regularly work from coffee shops, hotel rooms and in-flight WIFI. It’s the nature of being a consultant. To help protect my privacy, and all of the corporate data my device comes in contact with, I use a VPN service that utilizes OpenVPN protocols.

This is the most private and secure type of connection because it involves multiple layers of encryption, a tightly controlled set of keys and is still being updated to compensate for emerging threats.

I feel confident servicing my clients and handling sensitive campaign data when properly secured behind a quality VPN connection.

Per-User Access Restrictions and Logs

The other important thing that I see more and more companies deploying are per-user access logs with account-level restrictions. While this is old-hat in many industries, marketing teams have, until recently, valued diverse input over data security.

After all, the hackers are going after corporate financials and customer data, not boring marketing plans, right? Wrong. Thankfully, CMOs are waking up and smelling the coffee.

The most secure companies that I work with use the same virtual data handling protocols deployed by high-level government agencies. Everytime I access an internal marketing file, my credentials are watermarked into the document. I am required to reauthenticate everytime I access the database, and anything I download or print is heavily watermarked with my personal information.  

Access logs allow for internal security teams to monitor access and quickly identify potentially compromised accounts. And per-user access levels only allow me to view a narrowly focused set of information.

Prioritize Engagement of Marketing Employees by Communicating Value

But, even with the best technology and access protocols in the industry, losing key marketing personnel can be a body blow – especially in the leadup to a busy holiday shopping season, where retail fiscal years are made or lost. And if that individual heads to a competitor, things go from bad to worse. All of the training and insight into your operations travel with the people you hire and fire.

The things that have the biggest impact on an employee’s decision to stay or leave include:

  1. The ability of leaders to communicate a clear vision to their team and gain buy-in.

  2. The opportunities for training, advancement and interesting projects that broaden horizons.

  3. The sense of respect an employee feels – something that can be difficult to balance with oppressive security protocols.

The happiest marketing teams that I’ve had the pleasure of working with operated like a team of freelancers. Everytime few months, members were offered to opportunity to jump between campaigns. This kept the team feeling engaged and excited about what was coming around the corner, and how they could contribute to the company’s bottom-line in a fresh, creative way.

If CMOs can learn to better secure their human talent, and develop better strategies to secure their marketing data, they’ll enjoy a less stressful and more productive career. Maybe it’s time for you and your CTO to grab coffee and discuss some new protocols for the new year?

Now that you know how to defend your data, learn how CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers. Download The Data Driven CMO

CMOs: In the race to provide more, don’t forget about the need for speed

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed CMOs get bullied into adding “just one more thing” the customer experience during a boardroom meeting. It’s tough to say no. Everyone wants to move the needle and deliver an exceptional quarter, but sometimes the answer needs to be no, or a compromise needs to be made.

For example, I consulted for a startup last year that was in the perfect position to disrupt their industry. As the finishing touches were being put on the platform, the CEO asks if it’s possible to add video chat to the inbound customer communication options.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do while browsing the internet in my pajamas is start a video chat with some random customer service rep. But, the CEO was convinced that delivering customer service via video conference would be a differentiator.

The CMO should have said no, or at least offered to look into it and circle back on it at a later date. Adding “just one more thing” to a platform towards the end of development causes two problems. First, it distracts a focused team from the original project specs. And second, it increases the load on the underlying technology – usually resulting in decreased responsiveness.

Loading Times Dramatically Impact Abandonment

It’s a fact of life. The internet has given us the expectation that we can quickly and effortlessly find answers to questions, order products to be delivered to our front door and communicate with the people we care about.

If you add more and more to your platform in a way that sacrifices speed, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Almost half of your site’s visitors arrive with the expectation that the site will load in less than 2 seconds. If your site hangs past three seconds, 40% will leave and go elsewhere.

As the person in the c-suite with the responsibility of successfully delivering customers to your company’s online and physical presence, the last thing you need is to lose nearly half of your hard-earned leads to a slow site.

And if your site’s launch is hamstrung by last minute platform changes, where will you send the customers that you’re driving through your marketing channels?

Strategies for Effectively Saying “No!” to the C-Suite Pressure Cooker

Your best ally in the struggle to keep platform bloat at bay is your CTO. While you understand how speed and the customer experience impacts sales, they understand the value of efficient technical operations.

Legendary folk artist Pete Seeger once wrote: “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”

Take that folksy advice to heart. Try to sell your CEO on simplified, streamlined operations behind the scenes. If they don’t buy into the need to reduce workload and potential complications, proceed through the following tactics:

  1. Explain, in detail, how the requested addition would add tremendous strain to your existing hardware and software configuration.

  2. Request for 24 hours to research the additional cost in both dollars and time that the new feature would require. Then present this information in a way that highlights how the costs outweigh the benefits. You could also play possum after you do the research. Sometimes moments of inspiration in the boardroom fail to survive into the following day. But make sure you have the information at your fingertips in case you get pinged.

  3. Commit to offering this additional feature in version 2.0 or 3.0. You could suggest a timeline, but I wouldn’t make a firm commitment. The goal at this stage is to find a solution that gives your executives what they want, without sacrificing the focus of your team and the loading time of the site.

It can be really challenging to communicate how something that sounds like a simple request can wreak havoc on an existing or soon-to-launch platform. Don’t be afraid to share your honest feedback, because if you just go along with something and it doesn’t work, you’ll own it.

Today’s CMO is tasked with many demands, made even more challenging with the ever-evolving digital domain. Download this report from Argyle Executive Forum to see how leading CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers.

 

CMOs Can Still Add Value to a Startup without Obliterating the Budget

The median salary for a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is reported to be $169,066 per year. That’s an expense that very few startups can afford. Some entrepreneurs try to hire key personnel with less experience in order to reduce costs, but even then, you’re looking at an $80,000 salary to hire a CMO with limited product marketing experience.

As someone that works closely with entrepreneurs and startups every day, I highly recommend that you avoid spending more than $30,000 - $50,000 per year on any one individual, at least until your startup has some serious market traction.

For startups, if something can go wrong, it will. You need every spare penny to fund your runway, as money in the bank is the safety net that keeps Monday’s accident from becoming Friday’s out of business sign.

Consider a Strategic Partnership to Share the Burden and the Rewards

If you can’t afford to pay the salary of a CMO, the next logical step is to give up equity. Unfortunately, there are many, many reasons that partnerships just don’t work. When you enter into a partnership, you’re entering into a corporate marriage. And if things go wrong, you aren’t just sleeping on the couch, you might end up sleeping on the street.

I recommend a strategic partnership instead. With a strategic partnership, both parties retain full ownership of their individual brand. A common arrangement that I’ve seen work well is when two parties work together under a contract that splits revenue from a product or service.

For example, a founder can maintain full ownership of their product and brand. And a talented marketer will offer their services under a contract that entitles them to a quarterly commission on sales they help to generate.

If things go sideways, both parties can simply terminate the contract. But, this isn’t likely, because both parties are incentivized to help move product and grow market share.

I’ll be honest, most CMOs aren't open to this idea, unless they like to gamble and potentially win big if a product is a real hit. But, there are marketing firms that will agree to this type of arrangement. They will take the salary hit for a quality CMO while your startup gains access to an experienced marketing team often resulting in a win-win.

Guerrilla Marketing is Still Effective

When entrepreneurs get innovative, both customers and shareholders win. If you decide to enter into a strategic partnership with a marketing firm, or an experienced CMO, you’ll find that marketing a product is just as challenging as developing it.

Grabbing market share on a shoestring budget requires out-of-the-box thinking. Guerilla marketing is the art of getting your message out there without spending money on expensive advertising. Free media is a beautiful thing and there are plenty of examples of viral stories.

For example, a Minnesota insurance salesman decided to get out of his office and start doing good deeds around town. After paying for someone’s expired meter, the salesman left a note that read “I paid your parking meter. Imagine what else I’m willing to do to protect your car.” A business card was attached. The story went viral after someone posted a picture of his note on the internet and the free media this act of generosity generated only cost the insurance salesman a few quarters, but his blatantly promotional good deed paid off.

Work with an experienced CMO to brainstorm effective marketing strategies, both inside and outside of the box. You’ll want to zero in on ideas that generate goodwill, put your brand in a positive light, and have the potential to generate maximum sales with minimum up-front investment of time and money.

Lean on Expert Advice Networks

If you’re struggling to find a CMO that’s willing to enter into a strategic partnership, there’s always a CMO willing to charge you a consulting fee for a few hours of their time. Professional advice networks connect curious entrepreneurs with experienced experts ready to provide guidance for a pretty penny.

Do you have $10,000 sitting around? If so, Dallas Maverick’s Owner and Investor, Mark Cuban is willing to take your 1-hour call. Many CMOs are willing to give you an hour of their time for far less, if you’re willing to fairly compensate them for their time and experience.

You don’t have to sign a partnership agreement, employment contract, or enter into a strategic partnership to get great advice and insights. It all comes down to the best fit for your startup.

So, what are you waiting for? Start searching for available solutions that give you the information you need to find your CMO, at a price that won’t break the bank. Read up on how to integrate marketers into your boardroom. The CMO Marketers in the Boardroom paper reveals the value that marketers will add to your company when they participate at the highest level.

CMO Marketers in the Boardroom

Pipeline Marketing Helps CMOs Thrive in a Post Lead-Generation World

Is your sales team suffering from “rejection fatigue”? No matter how many times managers and supervisors spout off platitudes like “coffee’s for closers”, “always be closing”, and “sell high or die”, your sales team is continually suffering through the grinder of customer rejection.

80% of successful sales require five follow-ups. That leaves room for a lot of rejection. CMOs can partner with their sales teams by helping to lead them out of any resulting deserts of rejection fatigue.

Pipeline Marketing is Taking the Place of Traditional Lead Generation

The lead generation strategies first put into use in the 50’s and 60’s, have been obliterated by the digital revolution. This was for good reason as a tiny percentage of the leads generated using old-school strategies resulted in revenue.

Instead of trying to grab the attention of anyone and everyone that might enjoy your product or service, pipeline marketing involves multiple steps that qualify every lead. And no, it doesn’t start with “dialing for dollars”.

How does Pipeline Marketing work?

Effective pipeline marketing measures success in terms of the revenue that’s generated. Every marketing strategy that utilized is encompassed within a pipeline that allows consumers and future clients to identify themselves as qualified leads.

Sound too good to be true? Most sales teams will rejoice at this news alone but, they’re going to love the next part of the formula more.

The sales mission is changing. Instead of blindly calling people in the phonebook, or stalking leads on LinkedIn, the mission is now to engage with clients that have already placed themselves in front of the finish line. A well-timed nudge from a friendly, helpful client solutions rep (title change!) can win a customer to your platform, product or solution.

Phases of Pipeline Marketing  
  1. Learn everything you can about your target customer. Ask “what matters to them?” and “how do they enjoy consuming new information?”.
  2. Create advertising collateral that communicates the value of your product or service. This includes paid advertising, curated social media channels, a focus on SEO and solidifying your web presence.
  3. Empower potential customers to engage with your brand on their terms. One way to do so is to offer a strong online presence that operates 24/7. Another is to allow interested clients to sign-up for email newsletters, subscribe to your YouTube channel, and dive into your site filled with product tutorials and other useful information).
  4. As the new client engages with your marketing collateral, they should be encouraged to provide you with their contact details. This can be accomplished with a sign-up to access a Whitepaper or, it can attained by clicking on a “Chat Now” button on your website.
  5. Let your client solution reps do their magic; give them access to data that documents what the new client has already interacted with. This will enable them to build upon previous interactions during their conversation via phone, email, or chat.
CMOs Need to Shift Their Attention

The labor aspect of old-school lead generation has shifted. Instead of a boiler room full of sales reps dialing for dollars or an investment in paid advertising, today curated content and influencer marketing is required. Doing so creates the magnet that attracts future customers.

Because 81% of consumers perform research online before making their purchase, it’s imperative that your brand’s web presence is bulletproof. To deliver an exceptional online experience, you need to offer fast, easy-to-digest answers to the questions your target audience has about your product, service, or the problems you can solve for them.

The first ingredient in a fast answer is a web platform that loads quickly, on any device. This analysis of common web hosts shows that there is a big difference in performance between different hosting providers. That’s important to understand because 40% of website visitors abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

CMOs that thrive in a post-lead-generation world use pipeline marketing to more efficiently deploy their sales teams. Expensive human capital is only spent engaging new clients that have prequalified themselves. It’s my hope that this article has helped outline what pipeline marketing is, and how you can better prepare your brand to compete, without shattering the bottom-line. To see how leading CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers, download The Data-Driven CMO!

The Data-Driven CMO

Featured image source: pexels

Great CMOs Understand the Value of Obliterating Internal Barriers

How many walls does your team have to climb over, under or around, before they can reach decision makers? Bureaucracy is fatal to small and medium-sized businesses. For larger enterprises, it can prove extraordinarily expensive. Learning where internal barriers to progress and creativity exist in your company and how to eliminate the will help you set up for efficiency, innovation, and success.

Access the Best Ideas from a Diverse Team

The “digital disruptions” of the past few decades have created a new competitive landscape. Consumers are interacting with thousands of different devices, online platforms, and content channels. This highly-customized user experience is giving consumers an expectation that brands will cater to their specific needs, wants, and desires.

With so many different cultural perspectives, CMOs are harnessing the power of a diverse team to find new ways to reach out to consumers. I spoke with Yaniv Masjedi, the CMO of Nextiva, to gain a perspective on how enterprise communication is evolving. He shared:  

We’ve witnessed an evolution in how executives communicate with the teams they oversee. The CMO's direct extension is being included in the public phone tree. The C-Suite is demanding more ways to communicate directly with their teams. And cross-platform, cloud-based communication solutions are evolving to meet that need in a way that respects privacy and fosters creative efficiency.

Collaboration, without borders, is the key to tackling the challenge of crafting a marketing strategy that appeals to diverse, niche audiences.

Retarget More Effectively with Less Barriers

Retargeting is the process of reaching consumers that have already engaged with your sales funnel. They may have added an item to their shopping cart, or engaged with an online tutorial. For the consumer, retargeting can seem creepy. You are going to use the information they’ve unwittingly provided to craft a message that’s deeply personal to them.

But, when done correctly, it has a dramatic effect on conversions. And for good reason. More than 40% of consumers prefer advertising that is customized to them. When a consumer first sees an ad for a brand or service, they will only engage with it 0.07% of the time. But, when the ad is retargeted, they will click on it 0.7% of the time. That may sound insignificant, but it represents an improvement in the effectiveness of an ad campaign by 1000%!   

Save Time and Improve Creative Efficiency

Successful retargeting requires out-of-the-box thinking. Consumers aren’t excited by seeing the same ad over and over again; they want to be inspired and excited. Based on what you’ve already learned about them, you can definitely press their buttons!

Think about a consumer that is looking for a new car: they’ve visited your website, where you sell cars, and they’ve clicked around a bit. Thanks to your use of site cookies, your paid advertising can follow that visitor wherever they go next.

So, if the visitor took a close look at sports cars with a convertible top, you’d want to entice them to come back by alerting them to a new deal or special offer on a sleek new convertible.

Retarget by Highlighting Unique Features

The best CMOs engage their entire team to create retargeting strategies that speak to different mindsets. Your team has different passions that are unique to them. Draw from their multiple preferences to help guide your retargeting efforts and reach the diverse passions of customers.

Your retargeting ad should highlight unique features that matter to your recent visitors. This engagement needs to be more than a reminder — it has to be exciting and relevant. It’s much easier to achieve that goal if you have easy access to a diverse team of marketing pros and a lookbook filled with inspiration to pull from. 

Begin utilizing your team and download the 7th Annual Lookbook to get a running headstart!

7th Annual Lookbook

Feautred image source: pixabay

CMOs, Your Meetings Might Be Stifling Creativity & They Don’t Have To

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) lead teams of forward-thinking, creative people that find ways to make the ordinary a little more exciting. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed more than a few CMOs forgetting their audience during critical presentations.

As they unleash “death by PowerPoint”, everyone’s eyes start to glaze over. And, before you know it, the enthusiasm is sucked out of the room.

I’ve had the privilege of working on projects with organizations of all shapes and sizes. If you want to get the best out of the team you rely on for creative, out-of-the-box thinking, you need to allow them to run with their ideas.

Here’s my recipe for creative success.

Use Real-Time Communication & Fire the Conference Room

Regular meetings with your entire team are a waste of time that have a real price tag. According to a Ted Talk by David Grady and Jason Fried, here are the numbers:

  • $37 billion in lost production for companies in the United States
  • $75 million loss for Fortune 50 companies each year due to poorly executed meetings.
  • Meetings with multiple managers or executives can cost more than $1,000 per hour.

We live in an instant world where communication happens at the speed of light — literally. Leverage the technology at your fingertips. Slack, Hangouts and Skype offer compelling alternatives to traditional email and in-person meetings.

Using on-demand communication allows for busy creatives to engage only when necessary for them. You’ll find that you gain a huge improvement in productivity, and your team is more creative, thanks to the additional mental capacity they have to apply their brainpower to their work, instead of trying to stay awake through 50 PowerPoint slides.

The Best Alternative Meeting

Some of the world’s best ideas have sprung forth from passionate people free to pursue their vision. When you combine passion with all of the tools a large marketing team has at their disposal, magic happens.

It’s important to give your creatives space to be creative, without the suffocating demands of corporate tasking.

Don’t just take my word for it. In 2004, Larry Page and Sergey Brin felt so passionate about this, that they dedicated a paragraph of their IPO Letter to shining a light on the strategy:

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner. For example, AdSense for content and Google News were both prototyped in “20% time.” Most risky projects fizzle, often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses.”

The 20% Rule Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

By using the time that would have been wasted in old-school meetings, you can give your creatives the space they need without decimating the bottom-line. I’ve seen this strategy deliver huge dividends.

Without naming names, I have an example to share. I was working with an in-house web design team to craft a digital footprint for a Fortune 500 company. Each member of the team had a specialized skill that, when combined with the rest of the organization, created a force to be reckoned with.

But, there was a problem. The individuals that specialized in creating works of art in photoshop lacked the coding skills to build the site. And the coding gurus lacked any real design sense. Because of this, their visions were limited to the specific areas of the site that they were responsible for.

I encouraged the team to use their 20 percent time to learn about the free CMS platforms available to them. The company had plenty of server space, and these designers could gain a fresh perspective by unlocking the creativity of the entire team.

The three most popular CMS platforms were WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. There were strengths and weaknesses to each free CMS and some projects switched platforms a time or two.

But, within a few weeks, every member of the team had created their very own website. And the projects were taking on a life of their own — new design elements emerged. These new ideas were combined in increasingly unique ways.

This freedom to create led to major advances in how their corporate projects were handled. Suddenly, even the most boring site elements started to spring to life — everyone had the power to showcase their craziest ideas in ways that were far more effective than a boring wireframe edit.

Kill the Meeting, Long Live Creative Time

If you want the best from your team, stop forcing them to sit through mind-numbing, expensive meetings. Empower them to communicate and collaborate in real-time through one of the hundreds of chat and collaboration platforms available for business. And use the time you save to give them the freedom to make their wildest ideas a reality. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your creatives come to life.

If you're not ready to kill the meetings, at least check out how leading CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers. Download the Argyle: The Data Driven CMO guide today!

Argyle: The Data Driven CMO

Why CMOs Should Engage With Niche Bloggers

Effective CMOs operates at the nexus of the C-Suite and customer support – creating a brand voice that is authentic and effectively amplified in a way that doesn’t cheapen the message. “Challenging” doesn’t even begin to describe the daily struggle that this mission creates.

It might be tempting to keep your head down and push from the trenches with the rest of your team. But the fight behind the scenes is only one part of the fight. The competition-crushing victories in marketing happen far outside of the C-suite.

Networking is About More than a LinkedIn Profile

A friend of mine pulled out his phone and bragged about his 20,000 LinkedIn connections. It might sound impressive, and I certainly give him credit for pushing a metric. But, there’s no way he actually has a personal relationship with a meaningful percentage of those 20,000 digital breadcrumbs.

When I talk about getting out from behind the trenches, LinkedIn doesn’t count.

Using Real Relationships to Amplify a Genuine Message

When push comes to shove, I’m sure he can rely on some of his connections to “Like” and comment on his post. But CMOs need to do more than create a popular post on LinkedIn – although hats off to those that get the job done in this arena, especially if you’re working with a B2B brand.

Instead, for maximum impact, you need to reach across what I like to call “Friendemy Lines”. In a crowded online space, there are individuals and organizations that can compliment your brand’s voice and help put your message in front of motivated online shoppers.

These individuals are the wildcards that run niche blog sites – dedicated to a hyper-focused target audience. Sure, they sometimes steal eyeballs away from your site with their content, but they can also push your message far beyond the corporate blog – and authentically frame that message in a helpful, unbiased review or product comparison.

These can help nudge shoppers off the fence and into your product catalogue.

Create a List of Niche Blogs Relevant to Your Target Customer

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Networking with niche bloggers is a powerful way to get genuine, professional reviews in-front of your target customer.

Here’s what I look for in a niche blog:

  1. A well-presented article bank that provides useful information to consumers.
  2. Minimal to no spam or click-bait type content. I don’t want my brand associated with that type of content.
  3. The site must have a clear disclaimer outlining the site’s relationship to manufacturers and organizations – detailing any sponsorship or advertising arrangements.
  4. Strong search-engine rankings for the topics and terms my customers type into Google.
Winning Over the Wildcard Niche Blogger

The people that run micro-blogs are mavericks. Big personalities with an independent streak populate this world. As a CMO for a well-known brand, building rapport is key if you want to make a useful ally.

Alliances are built on mutually beneficial partnerships. That’s why I approach micro-bloggers with a friendly and transparent message. Usually I’ll send them an email that says something like:

“Hi XXXX!

My name is XXXX and I work with XXXX. We came across your blog while we were doing some research. I found your article on XXXX especially helpful – you found a way to discuss XXXX in a way that was interesting and informative.

I am working on better communicating the value propositions of XXXX. If I send you one, would you be willing to create an honest review for us? I’m not looking for a fluffy puff piece. I’d rather get your honest opinion and hopefully you’d be willing to share that with your audience.

If you’re open to receiving a few samples, I will be happy to get them in the mail later this week.

Thanks!

XXXX”

Yes, It Really Works!

I usually receive responses to these outreach efforts within a few days. But don’t take my word for it.

Joe Auer is the niche-blogger behind Mattress Clarity. I am lucky to have a relationship with him, and I asked him to comment for this piece. Here’s what he had to say:

“How many people get paid to sleep on the job? I built my site around the things that provide me with more restful, relaxing sleep. To create most of my professional product reviews and comparisons, I accept free products. Then, if I love them, I feature their product in an honest review. My readers trust me because I’m transparent, and I’m sleeping better than ever!”

Savvy CMOs are amping up this strategy to create genuine buzz. To the consumer, it passes the smell test that most PR blitzes fail. If you can echo your product’s value-props across the small sites that your customers see in Google search results, you’ll move the needle.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Did you know there are over 4,000 MarTech solutions on the market—a 2500% increase over 2011? 

With so many options, identifying the right ones and getting them to work together isn’t easy. How do you do it? 

Ready for the truth? Download The Truth About the Martech Stack and see for yourself. 

Cost-Effective Digital Marketing May Require Outsourcing Your Next CMO

Digital marketing can be one of the most effective strategies for your brand to punch through the noise and reach future customers. There’s a reason that retailers are spending more on digital advertising than ever before — outpacing expenses on virtually every other kind of traditional marketing strategy.

The ability to target viewers based on where and how they access information online provides CMO’s an opportunity to strategically reach consumers at every phase of the buying cycle. And the journey to harnessing the power of online and mobile advertising starts with one question: How will your company employ and then deploy your Chief Marketing Officer?

The New CMO Identity

With a median salary of $160,000 per year, the Chief Marketing Officer on your team may be one of the most expensive hiring decisions your company makes. Add in the value of stock options and benefits, and the number only becomes a bigger liability on your balance sheet.

For smaller businesses and startups, a trend has emerged. As freelancing platforms evolved and took shape in the aftermath of the Great Recession, a not-so-secret formula is being proven in the market. Instead of hiring a single CMO, more aggressive firms are looking to spend the same amount of capital on a team of remote, freelancing digital marketing gurus.

The traditional role of a CMO is being changed and adapted into the Areas of Responsibility for other members of the c-suite. It’s not uncommon to find a Director of Digital Marketing an individual in middle-management that is responsible for handling relationships with outside talent.

Outsourcing CMO Responsibilities is a Game Changer for Start-Ups

Freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are excellent places to start looking for outside digital marketing experts. The more experienced individuals on these platforms have worked with tens, and possibly hundreds of firms in need of campaign design and execution.

If your startup is smaller, and you don’t already have an experienced marketer on your staff, it’s my recommendation that you look into a reputable marketing agency to serve as the intermediary between your company and the freelancing community — think of them like an on-demand Project Manager.

You’ll gain the experience of a tried and proven hand, while protecting your limited capital from expensive in-house marketing executive salaries that produce the same, or worse results. Crafting a winning marketing campaign requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. When you have a team of individuals, from a variety of backgrounds rowing in the same direction, the end-result is a diverse team that gives even a fledgling startup the same digital marketing firepower as a larger, more established firm.

Common Outsourcing Formulas

The team that you build will be based on the type of product or service you offer, and the segment of the market you’re attempting to capture. On my last project, working with a publicly traded personal hygiene brand, we had the following roles:

  • Marketing Executive: Main decision-maker; responsible for setting the course and scope of the team’s efforts.
  • Project Coordinator: Managed the workflow of each team member, minimizing duplication of efforts and holding each member of the team accountable to a living, breathing timeline.
  • Market Analyst: Responsible for delivering real-time insights on how our campaigns were performing, and keeping us ahead of the competition’s campaigns..
  • Social Media Campaigner: Created collateral for the brand’s social media channels and ensured prompt response to customer inquiries and interaction.
  • SEO Analyst: Identified opportunities and implemented strategies to help the brand’s campaign content perform online in search engines and across different online channels. This included a ton of landing pages and cross-channel promotion.
  • Content Writer:  The amount of written content required for a comprehensive campaign is both time-consuming and specific. This individual helped ensure the tone and information provided was consistent, while playing to the demands of search engines.

Noticeably absent was a CMO. While the client did have one in the c-suite, they were not involved in the day-to-day operations of the team. She did meet with us once, but her responsibilities focused her attention on the broader needs of the company.

Smaller brands or startups would not have a need for a CMO to oversee the type of team I laid out above. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that larger brands continue to shift the role of their in-house CMO

Has your team questioned whether the CMO should oversee the whole customer experience? Download this guide to learn how to set up a CMO for success.

Constellation Research: Should the Chief Marketing Officer Oversee the Whole Customer Experience?