6 practical tips for the B2B CMO

A couple of years ago, I read that 80 percent of all CEOs in American companies don’t trust their marketing directors. And if the pressure to deliver wasn’t high enough, customer demand is at an all-time high and becoming increasingly more complex. B2C and B2B alike, customers expect 24/7 customer service and omnichannel experiences that don’t just fulfill but exceed their needs at every touchpoint. Easy, right?

You, as a CMO are of course well-versed in the nature of the “the business” and are someone who tries to navigate these complexities as an interdisciplinary marketing artiste. Your role takes on the balancing act of aligning internal departments, people and temperaments, systems, processes, and technology to deliver one seamless customer experience.  

Most of the companies we work with at Exelement have come a long way in their digital transformation, and to accomplish this means their everyday challenges come down to figuring out how their work within marketing should be organized when dealing with so many moving parts.

Companies face a number of questions: What processes are needed? Which roles are recommended? What kind of technology should we buy? Of course, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution, and those answers will be fundamentally different depending on several variables like company size, industry, budget, etc. 

Having been one myself for some years, I think we as CMO’s can collectively empathize with the nuances of our everchanging role in the marketing ecosystem, and now more than ever is the spotlight on marketing departments to prove their value to leadership, drive digital transformation change, and produce tangible results tied to revenue.  

So, whether you’ve been newly appointed, or are a long-term veteran, here are some key considerations and practical tips (based on my own experiences and learnings) for you as a CMO.

What does “marketing” mean?

Every CMO needs to define the following:  

  1. What does marketing mean for my organization?  
  1. How am I expected to deliver on my company’s definition of marketing? 

The answer to both of those questions combined constitutes a reasonably wise basis for your scope of work, what those priorities are, and what’s expected of you – and, to define that baseline, you need to start with a bit of discovery, for example: Are marketing systems included in the marketing budget? Are you responsible for the whole customer experience, or is the main role of marketing to support the sales department? 

To influence change, you need to understand the domains you’re responsible for and the interdependencies these processes have across other departments. For some companies this means a confluence of CMO’s and CXO’s working together, creating brand experiences and internal comm strategies, while for others, marketing is exclusively tied to producing MQL’s and traditional inbound strategy.  

And it probably goes without saying that creating well documented process maps and ways of working will fundamentally support you and your efforts along the way.

Tip: Be flexible and fuel your internal processes as well as the customer journeys with systems (ranging from the website to marketing automation and CRM). Whether your responsibility is generating leads or experiences, technology is a key component, internal relations is another.

Organize in functional silos or after the customer journey?

In many large companies, marketing is, for practical reasons, decentralized to products, regions, business areas, or a combination of these factors. Some companies are able to work with a central staff team, and others with hybrid solutions. 

Tip: Follow the customer journey as far as your responsibility goes (communication “only” or all the way to product development/innovation). 

To what extent the customer journey is handled from a business organizational standpoint should be a critical consideration when looking to implement change and new processes, support digital transformation journeys, and deliver optimized Customer Experiences. Traditionally, decentralized teams tend to work in silos which can hinder efforts to streamline the customer journey and inspire new ways of working. Shifting from decentralized teams to supporting the customer horizontally from marketing to sales to customer service and product development requires you to break down the “silo mentality” and create a more collaborative approach with teams who work towards the same (or at least similar) KPIs and goals.  

Cross-functional teams with support from “centers of excellence” follow the customer journey without considering which historical function (Marketing, sales, “customer service”) was previously responsible for each step. Data is collected and used along the journey, which in turn enables you to become much more customer-centric and deliver the right omnichannel experiences across all touchpoints.  

Tip: Own the customer data - or at least try to have full access to it.

Easier said than done, right? International companies with hundreds of thousands of employees - with inherited systems, hierarchies, and skills can’t organize themselves in this way overnight. This will take time, but this is what marketing should be about.

Ninjas and rock stars

Today’s marketeers wear many hats and are expected to perform like “ninjas” and “rockstars”. To fill the gap, new-age titles like Agile Performance Manager, Head of Digital, and so on are injected into the marketing domain with little consideration into truly understanding what these roles really mean, and how they are working towards the bigger picture in an integrated way.  

It seems too common these days to inflate the space with “fancy marketing titles,” but unless those roles relate to measurable KPIs and well-defined responsibilities, how much impact are they really making?  

Tip: Connect your team to KPIs – no matter what titles you use. 

Waterfall or agile? 

You will be measured on your management skills from how you manage your teams, operations, projects and so on. Finding the right project methodology to effectively lead your department will be key to your success. For most modern-day organizations, that means searching for the perfect agile way of working to be able to adapt to everchanging needs and priorities. Now that’s not to say that hierarchical methods such as waterfall principle don’t have it’s time and place, but a common pitfall is that many work with both without reflecting on which method will achieve the best result. 

Tip: Create a culture that rewards iterations, and feedback from customers and data. If you work at a rigid, bureaucratic company - try to at least work insight-driven in your team or with revenue-driven marketing. 

Ask for help

There's not a one size fits all solution. 

The modern CMO faces the constant need to evolve. so, whether you're able to adapt and apply these key considerations to your organization with flying colors, or not...my last piece of advice is this: everyone needs help, and it's ok to ask for it.

Tip: Use consultants if you get stuck. Our knowledge of your systems, and insights into how your industry colleagues and competitors organize can offer a vast amount of support and value for your digital transformation journey. 

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