Tag Archives: CMO Corner

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


How CMOs Are Helping Healthy Food Brands Secure Market Share

Consumer demand for healthy food is at an all-time high, leading Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to think outside of traditional marketing channels to put healthy brands directly in front of their target markets. The majority of healthy food brands are small in terms of size, compared to the established players, but with creative approaches, they are being discovered, leading to healthy growth and market share.

The more conventional marketing strategies also aren’t direct enough, leading many experts to focus on content marketing and social media. The following five steps outlined below explain the new-age strategy CMOs are using to help elevate these new brands.

1. Introduce new brands through creative social media campaigns

Brands in the health food space are forgoing the traditional launch strategies, like press releases, in favor of attracting interest across social media platforms. Brands can attract instant attention using custom videos, well-crafted content and other attraction assets to create early interest and product demand.

Many healthy food brands are relying heavily on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook initially. It’s important to master a few social media channels in the beginning, rather than on all of them. Finding success on just a few is more effective than just participating on all of them.

2. Share the brand’s story

Consumers are attracted to a brand on social media when they connect with its story—include the reason for the brand’s launch or highlight the people behind the brand so the consumer can make that personal connection.

Personal connections create loyal brand supporters who will purchase and introduce their friends and family to the brand. Every brand should have a detailed “About Us” page on their website that highlights all of this information, which can then be repurposed on social media to help share the story.

3. Create and distribute educational content assets

When creating content, CMOs are focusing on publishing assets that provide educational information, rather than content that is purely promotional. Popular content formats include information packed long-form blog posts, educational videos and infographics that consumers love to engage with and share on social media.

Every time someone likes, shares or comments on your social media content, it’s introduced to new eyes that may not be familiar with your brand. To capture a potential consumer’s attention, your content needs to provide value and something of interest. If it’s just a glorified advertisement, it won’t receive engagement or be shared.

4. Focus on specific lifestyles

For healthy food brands, the niche is smaller and may not appeal to the masses in the same way as a large brand. While there is a growing interest in healthy food, according to a HealthyYOU Vending report, there is also a very large percentage of the population that can’t afford to focus on healthy food; instead, selecting their food purchases based on affordability.

When running social media campaigns, target those consumers that tend to be active in a specific lifestyle that relates to healthy eating. For example, target CrossFit fans to place your offers and content in front of an audience that is interested in healthy food choices. Facebook offers the most extensive targeting options, making it a must-do.

5. Emphasize the ‘how’ rather than just the ‘why’

Consumers that tend to gravitate towards healthy food options are more interested in how the particular brand is beneficial, rather than why. They are fully capable of understanding that healthy food offers many benefits, but they will want to know how your particular brand is going to contribute to their health.

One popular trend is to create how-to videos that explain the benefits and give some behind- the-scene footage of the brand. This educates the consumer while building trust. It’s a very low-cost strategy that performs well.

Final Thoughts

Large food brands are slow to make the transition to healthier varieties, leaving the window of opportunity wide open for new, smaller, health-focused brands to thrive. The discovery strategy above will be continued to be used by leading CMOs in the industry, and optimized along the way, as new social media networks and content opportunities emerge.

Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing to learn how to align with your customers and followers and create a better perception of your brand. 

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

Dear CMOs, Mobile Data Security Should Be Everything

Ok quick review for those who are currently out sick and thus may have missed the news. I will expect a note signed by Epstein's Mother. NOTE: If you don't know this reference it means you're under the age of 40. So Google It.

Anyway, for the uninformed...

When it comes to data, roughly 90% of ALL data in the world has been produced or created just in the past two years alone. Broken down to the minute, try this on for size from the folks at Domo:

That is EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY boys and girls. In other words there's a whole shitload of data (technical term) being generated.

In terms of mobile, try this one on for size via The Next Web:

Ok so on one hand we have lots of data being generated while on the other we have lots of people on mobile devices generating a large chunk of said data.

You with me?

You better be.

Data Breaches

In case you missed some more news, there's been a few breaches of data over the past X number of years. How many exactly?

Well this site puts all the info right at your fingertips.

As you will see there is an alarming number of ever-growing data breaches occurring all around the world. Now couple that with the fact that a whole lot of people are using their mobile device to do pretty much everything including financial-related tasks and the following stat via PwC makes perfect sense AND why I believe...

Mobile Data Security Should Be EVERYTHING To CMOs

65% of shoppers are wary of having their personal information hacked using their mobile/smartphone.

Moreover, according to PwC research "more than half of those surveyed only use companies/websites and payment providers that they believe are legitimate and trustworthy."

Madeleine Thomson, PwC’s retail and consumer leader in the UK put it perfectly:

"If people are going to continue to shop efficiently and quickly on mobile, then there has to be more thorough systems around how we secure the data and make the mobile environment more resilient."

So more and more people on mobile means more and more mobile data generated which means more and more breaches are in play which means brands need to the security of mobile data (and ALL data for that matter) at the top of their priority list.

It's All About the Experience

CMOs and marketers at all levels are fully aware that customer experience (CX) is everything today. And the mobile experience is of course at or near the top of the CX list for all the reasons stated above. 

Providing the best CX can be challenging but it doesn't need to be. Not in the least. Down Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Image source: Pexels

Helping CMOs Look At The Digital Space From A Human Perspective

If continually bombarded with data and technology, it can at first feel overwhelming. Despite initially creating confusion soon after its introduction, we then realize the benefits of a new technology. From there, it leads to a new norm, helping us understand our own intentions and behaviors.

At first, we had millions of data points. However, we solved that by creating new marketing roles like that of data scientist. Five years ago, no one knew what that was. Today, you are looked at strangely if you don't have one on your marketing team. These new marketing team members that take these data points and put them together like puzzle pieces. It reveals a clearer picture that expresses and amplifies what marketers should know and say.

What + Why = How

At least, that's what Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning, and her team at the ZOO, Google's creative think tank for agencies and brands, believes is possible. In this role, she shines a unique, humanistic lens on culture, business, and technology that brings a fresh perspective to corporate culture, product development, branding, and marketing. Her quest is to spark novel thinking and lead people to take action.  At Google, she helps advertisers and marketers make sense of human beings’ deep, emotional relationship to the digital space. From there, they help to convert those insights into strategic and creative efforts.

Google's Abigail Posner Google's Abigail Posner helps advertisers and marketers make sense of human beings’ relationship to the digital space. Photo by Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images

To Abigail, it's not a jungle out there when it comes to technology, data, and human behavior. It's been categorized, studied, and displayed to help CMOs see things differently. Her quest is to spark novel thinking and lead people to take action.  At Google, she helps advertisers and marketers make sense of human beings’ deep, emotional relationship to the digital space and convert those insights into strategic and creative efforts.

To help CMOs, ZOO has two teams - Abigail's Creative Strategy Team and a Creative Effectiveness Team. Together, they take the what (i.e., data) and combine that with the why (why people behave a certain way and react to a particular brand). That gets them the why answer to the equation, which then enables CMOs and their respective brands to know what they should create within that digital space to resonate and engage with their audience.

At the Intersection of Technology and Anthropology

Posner likes the "little whys." Those details help to decode the larger "whys" related to human behavior, impulses, actions, and perspectives. From there, we have context for the "how" to that consumer equation.

To illustrate what ZOO thought was beneficial for the agencies and brands it serves, this Google business determined it would be beneficial to undertake an anthropological study on virtual reality 180-degree and 360-degree video. This study would deliver an understanding of the cultural underpinnings that would drive certain audience members to respond to this new platform.

The findings have now become the basis of guidance that ZOO is providing to a number of brands it calls clients. For example, Ad Age cited two brands where ZOO provided direction. The first was for Guinness. They did a 360° experience inside a convenience store, where you can experience the colors and sounds of what beer should taste like. The second was for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called Last Call 360°. People could see and feel why they should not drive. There are numerous other examples of how the digital space can relate and engage with the human experience.

Always in Search of Connections

Hence, the CMO is searching out how to connect technology and marketing strategy with what their audience really wants. This is an inherently human trait. In everything we do, we are seeking to create a connection. As Abigail Posner explained in an interview with AICPA:

"... merely at the suggestion of two random words like chocolate and pillow, the human mind begins trying to find connections. The connection it finds may very well be the next big idea. Using the chocolate and pillow example, innovators may develop chocolate-covered melatonin for a midnight snack that improves one’s circadian rhythm."

As marketers, we must identify the best connections to create for audiences. From there, we know how to deliver on what they are seeking from products. And, that's what all this data is helping to do.

Now, Posner and her team see that there will always be a need for humans in marketing. This is despite what technology has been able to accomplish. In this case, humans are a necessary component for decoding the patterns identified by technology in the marketing data.

We can put our knowledge of cultures, belief systems, emotions, and human desires into disseminating this information comprised of little whys and creating meaning from them. That meaning becomes the insights necessary to help develop new ideas for brands to apply in the digital space.

Retail - The Human Experience

The retail space, particularly the in-store, brick & mortars of the world will always rely on human interaction, of course. However, retailers are increasingly challenged to grow revenues and engage customers while managing costs.

Download Nucleus Research: Getting To Know You to see how some retailers increased marketer productivity by an average of 50 percent while increasing customer engagement—leading to a surge in campaign-driven revenues of up to 30 percent. 

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image source: Pexels

3 Questions to ask around People, Process, and Technology

When I was a younger one of my most favorite memories were centered on going for drives with my father; and yes gas prices back then weren’t what they are today. What always surprised me about the drives was that some-days they’d last for hours and others they’d be relatively short. As I gazed at the clouds and scenery around me my father would often end up at the same final destination. What took me a decade to understand was the difference between the days we’d be on a long journey verses the shorter journeys all while reaching the same end point. Do you have any guesses?

The days the journey was shorter my father knew where he was going.

I was recently fortunate enough to visit a remarkably fast paced, growing, and engaged airline company. The premise for our visit was centered on accountability, fulfilling on promises, and helping the organization demonstrate value from their technology investment. Sound familiar?

What brings us to this point? The dreaded “red zone” or however your organization classifies this. It’s when a misalignment of brand promise has occurred by either the people involved, the process, or the technology involved. I’ve been in this boardroom many times and as I observe, actively listen, and understand the people and businesses in front of me I challenge my customers and myself to ask these set of questions. I would encourage many of you to do the same. The smart ones tend to ask these even before they see red!


Do I have the right team in place?
Has turnover impacted my ability to be successful?
Are my vendor and partners true partners vested in our success?


Do we have a process for success?
Is this documented and at the heart of how we operate?
Have we instilled accountability at all levels of the process?


Can the technology meet our business requirements?
Will the technology be able to scale as we grow?
Does the technology vendor or identified partners deliver through services and support on the brand promise?

What I found remarkable about this organization was that they didn’t lack desire, internal alignment, executive level buy in or focus. They simply just didn’t know where their focus should lie.

If you’ve recently undergone a technology investment or if you’ve been on autopilot for years – challenge yourself with the questions above. The self-reflection could be painful, enlightening, or a reinforcement of the track you are on.

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

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3 Things To Scare CMOs This Halloween

Someone once said about Halloween: "It's said that All Hallows' Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin - and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright."

Well if the air feels different today for chief marketing officers, CMOs to me and you, these may be the reason. 

1. Integration Continues To Be the Holy Grail

Consumers, in case you didn't know, like to use more than one channel before making a purchase - most notably among these channels? Mobile and social media. And it appears the latter and the integration thereof remains problematic for CMOs. 

According to the most recent CMO Survey, marketing leaders continue to struggle when it comes to integrating customer information, better known as data, across channels including social media. 

The question is why? Why this prolonged futility? Could it be these same marketing leaders are not using the correct martech? Could also explain why that since 2014 nearly 50% of these same marketers are unable to show the impact of social media on their business. That is mind-blowing.

Here's something you should already know: Marketing leaders need to eliminate data silos and create a single source of truth. And they need a 360-degree view of customers to reliably and efficiently target the right message, to the right person at the right time. 

2. IoT Means Increased Data Security

I am a huge proponent of IoT from both a marketing and a consumer perspective. The possibilities from the former are endless but the concerns from the latter are real. Very real. 

From a recent e-Marketer article:

As you can clearly see many consumers around the world are concerned about their data and hacking when it comes to IoT. 

And knowledge of IoT and data is growing. From the article: 

"Interestingly, the survey also found that awareness about security threats to internet-enabled devices actually increased with the age of respondents. For example, 72% of those ages 18 to 24 were aware that IoT devices could be targeted by hackers, but that figure rose to 80% among 45- to 54-year-olds."

The bottom line is that as more and more devices get connected to the Internet the more and more brands and businesses need to up their data security game. Easier said than done for sure but if these brands and businesses want to reap all the benefits of IoT collected data they better be at the ready to guard it with their lives. Their brands lives. 

3. Personalization Remains An Enigma

As per another ubiquitous red and black eMarketer chart, marketers continue to struggle with personalization with lack of resources and data the top of the list. 

if you notice coming in at 14% are tech-related challenges. Forgive me but there's no way this percentage is correct. 

Whether the survey was worded poorly or for some other reason, the martech challenge is significantly higher and more than likely should be rolled up into lack of resources. 

The reason I am so confident lies in the numbers, AKA the over 4,000 different marketing-technology solutions on the market today. 

What's ironic is that with the right martech the challenge of resources - automation anyone? and data would be relieved to some extent. 

The right martech solution creates engagement, orchestrates experiences, connects data, and optimizes online interactions that attracts and retains ideal customers. Moreover the right solution connects cross-channel, content, and social marketing with data management and activation. 

Yeah it really is that simple. 

And Speaking of Simple

Much of the customer experience is broken because the marketing experience is broken. But it’s not marketing’s fault. With legacy technology, marketers only get a distorted view of the customer because data silos cannot be shared across channels.

Download Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Image source: Pexels