small change: your CMO, or you

small change
Ciarán Fenton
How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow
That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

Blog 25 small change: your first 100 days

Blog 26 small change: your operating board

Blog 27 small change: your main board

Blog 28 small change: your CEO, or you

Blog 29 small change: your CFO, or you

Blog 30 small change: your non-executive chair, or you

Blog 31 small change: your NEDs, or you

Blog 32 small change: your GC or you

Blog 33 small change: your COO, or you

Blog 34 small change: your CMO, or you

small change

Seven principles

Principle 4

A shared Organisation PSB

  • shared purpose,
  • strategy
  • and behaviour in your organisation
  • is key to its success

Blog 34 small change: your CMO, or you

your CMO

Your CMO (or you) is your Chief Marketing Officer and they are responsible for communicating your organisation’s proposition to your market.

The heat and yes, so much heat is generated around CMOs on operating boards because:

  • The CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), previously known as Sales Director, in what my children call “olden times”, can’t meet their sales number unless “the marketing spend is right for the number”. CROs get very edgy about their number. Understandably.
  • Marketing is as much art as science and CEOs, who do not come from a marketing background, don’t know what they don’t know about it. They feel there’s a lot of “marketing b******s” spouted by the CMO. They may not say this but they feel it. The problem is they are half right because marketers know that half their marketing works but don’t know which half.
  • CFOs get a rash when CMO’s come near them and vice versa. In nearly 40 years in business I don’t recall a CFO ever saying: “We really need to increase that marketing budget, mate”.
  • Attitudes to marketing vary considerably between sectors. The best marketers I’ve worked with are in the food and drink sector. The good ones are very clever. It’s a complex and stressful job. One CMO I worked with relaunched a high profile confectionary brand which he said: “had lost its way”. I love that phrase and hear it often. It makes me want to call a sort of marketing coastguard. He took huge risks with “campaign decisions” which have to be made months ahead of production decisions. Get those wrong and your confection is toast, as it were. He got it right and the brand – a household name – recovered.
  • On the other hand, the worst marketing behaviour I witness is in professionals services. “What’s all this fuss about marketing” fumed a multi-million dollar equity partner in a law firm, “the only marketing we need in this business is forty tickets to Wimbledon!”. All the art and science of marketing thrashed in a sentence. Poor Kotler.

So, in small change terms, more light than heat could be generated on your operating board if you remember that:

  • Kotler said that marketing is about the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. Your operating board must get ALL of these right and the entire board should support the CMO is doing so.
  • David Maister said that marketing in professional services is about the demonstration, not an assertion, of your firm’s competence. Agree around your boardroom table how best to do that because people buy people first and professional services are people businesses.
  • Above all, when your operating board sits down to approve your annual budget have an “adult” conversation about the relationship between the sales number and the marketing spend. If you don’t, you will have to re-forecast your sales number, not once but several times during the year. And that generates conflict, recrimination if not fear and loathing.

How many times did your board re-forecast your revenue number last year? Were those reforecasts avoidable at the budget round stage?


Ciaran Fenton





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