Editor’s note: This article is a part of a series recapping the sessions from the 2021 Empowered CMO retreat. The Empowered CMO Network is a community of women elevating women and the role of the CMO through open, authentic, and inspiring connections.
Chief Market Officers are at an important moment in our evolution. We’ve shifted our mindset to focus on the big picture instead of all the activities involved in marketing. And it’s paying off in big ways — both for our companies and our careers.
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about what’s ahead for CMOs who want to maximize their impact. I told you about the three pillars of a successful Chief Market Officer:
- Understand the market
- Build differentiated brands through experience
- Optimize revenue generation
We did a deep dive into understanding the market, which is the foundation for the next two pillars. Now let’s explore how to master each of those.
Pillar 2: Build Differentiated Brands Through Experience
As Chief Market Officers, we need to elevate the way we talk about brand. Brand is not billboards, logos, and color palettes. It’s how people experience our company.
The experiences we create for our customers and potential customers happen all the time, and each one strengthens or detracts from our brands. We need to be obsessive about the experiences we provide at every touchpoint, and we need to optimize them based on the real buyer’s journey — not what we want it to be.
When we’re building our customer experiences based on our expectations rather than the real customer experience, we’re missing the boat. Here are a few examples of the disconnect:
We Serve Them the Wrong Content at the Wrong Time
If someone has been to our website 10 times in the past week, why are they still getting served basic, introductory content? It’s like when you go to a party and someone introduces themselves, and you’re like, “Umm, we’ve met three times already. Shouldn’t you know me by now?”
It’s an opportunity for a deeper connection, and we totally miss it by not understanding who our buyers are and where they are in their journeys.
We Harass Them
The flip side of the last point: How annoying is it to show up to someone’s website for the first time and get slammed with chatbots trying to get us to book a demo, or forms on every page begging us to schedule a meeting? Uh, no. I just got here. I don’t even know if I’m on the right site yet — I’m definitely not ready to start talking about contracts.
We Miss Out on Deals
When we don’t know that our prospects (or worse, current customers) are already researching our competitors, we’re at risk of losing out on deals. What’s worse than reaching out only to find out that you were too late and they’ve just signed with another company?
The only way to prevent these scenarios is to know our customers and prospects — what they’re interested in, where they are in their buying journey, and which team members are involved in the decision.
Armed with those insights, we can provide them with the information they need at each moment to help them progress to the next stage in their journeys.
This kind of genuinely helpful brand experience is how we can differentiate. And it’s more important than ever that we do.
New Gartner research found that 64% of B2B buyers say every digital experience feels the same. That statistic should make marketers cringe. But it’s also an opportunity: The companies that double-down on the customer experience can differentiate themselves — before everyone else catches on and starts doing it, too.
For me, my Number One strategy for brand differentiation is through community building. It goes back to getting to know your buyers, and letting your buyers lead. Because remember, your brand is how others experience you. It’s the sentiment of your audience. So if you can build, engage, and learn from your audience, you can meaningfully differentiate your brand.
And while communities take a lot of work and investment, they pay off. Fifty percent of our bookings at 6sense are influenced by one of our communities.
Pillar 3: Optimize Revenue Generation
The final pillar of being a Chief Market Officer is a really important one: revenue. By understanding our market and building differentiated brands through experience, we are well poised to be strategic about how we impact our company’s revenue.
I’m not just talking about marketing-sourced revenue. If we’re only concerned about what we can directly claim credit for, we’re selling ourselves, our teams — and our CEOs — short.
When I think about optimizing revenue, I think back to my time as a salesperson. When I was in that role, a manager explained to me that the only asset I had was my time. I had to be extremely picky about the accounts I worked and where I spent my time. Now as a Chief Market Officer, I keep that at the front of my mind when I’m thinking about how marketing can optimize revenue for the organization.
I want to make sure we’re making the most of our salespeople’s only asset — their time.
I think of sales as our most expensive channel. And just like we wouldn’t send a bottle of Dom to every person who visits our website, we can’t put every account showing any inkling of interest in front of sales. We must be selective, and must make sure the accounts we’re serving up are the ones that are most likely to result in revenue.
In addition to optimizing our sellers’ time, we need to be vigilant about all the levers that influence revenue. The most efficient way to increase revenue is to improve your sales velocity formula.
This means maximizing conversion rates throughout the funnel, increasing average sales price, and decreasing cycle times.
My sales dashboard, which serves as my North Star, has all of this information in it. It enables me to go in every day and see how each segment is performing, where we’re doing well, and where we can make changes (big and small) to impact our sales velocity formula.
As Chief Market Officers, our role is to future-proof revenue. Whereas sales forecasts are based on what’s already happening, marketing forecasts are all about potential. We are our company’s biggest leading indicator for revenue.
Traditionally, marketing’s forecasts have relied on lots of manual labor, a lot of spreadsheets, and a lot of guesswork. I’ve always been a little jealous of my CRO’s forecasting technology — it’s sleek, easy to use, and astonishingly accurate. But luckily, there’s now technology that gives Chief Market Officers that same level of accuracy in forecasting pipeline.
I’m super excited about what the future looks like for our ability to confidently future-proof our bookings … and have an even more reliable impact on revenue.
What’s Next for Chief Market Officers
A few years into our evolution from Chief Marketing Officers to Chief Market Officers, I’m more optimistic than ever about our ability to effect real change — for our own careers, those of other women marketing leaders, and for our companies.
By owning the seat at the table that understands the market, differentiating our brands through customer experience, and optimizing revenue for our organizations, we can elevate the role of the CMO and fully claim our place in all the rooms where the big decisions are being made.