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CMO’s have come a long way from simply managing print ads. Once you throw digital marketing into the mix, a completely new world of possibilities— and alternatively failures— opens up to you.
There’s no doubt executing a marketing plan quickly and effectively takes focused effort, especially as you navigate an ever-changing landscape of customer behavior, wants, and needs. Communicating clearly with your team, setting KPIs, managing expectations, brainstorming content ideas, leveraging your network, the list only seems to get longer when you think about all the pieces that need to come together to bear successful outcomes.
Thankfully, executing your vision isn’t something you have to do by stumbling around in the dark. Here, we’ll break down the six specific phases of your first 90 days in the CMO pilot’s seat: what each phase is, how to tackle them, and how you can take some of the pressure off without seeing quality suffer.
Gather information and generate knowledge share.
1. Communicate (Days 0 to 90)
You can think of the Communicate phase as the phase that envelopes the whole of your strategy—whether it’s within your 90 days or not. Communicating is part of any successful strategy regardless of whether you’re assessing the needs of your marketing team or learning about the expectations of key stakeholders.
Being able to communicate effectively will especially help the ‘Organise’ and ‘Evaluate’ phases as you flesh out your proprietary strategy. One way to gather information and generate knowledge share is to proactively build closer relationships with key players. This can be your:
- PPC managers
- Customer success managers
- Marketing ops
- Content strategists
Building these key relationships can help you gain a better understanding of how the company operates— what it’s strengths and weaknesses are from the points of view of your fellow managers and team members.
2. Organise (Days -10 to 15)
The Organise phase can be summed up in two words: cultural fit. As you spend your first few days communicating and gaining knowledge through everyone involved, it’s time to check for alignment.
Are expectations — both yours and others’ — aligned with how you envision yourself presenting the product? Can you make sure your most poignant skills are put to use efficiently as you gear up to problem solve, manage, and execute? Is your team well-rounded enough to manage the bulk of the work you’ll be doing?
That last question is an important part of your overall process. It’s crucial to start thinking about how you’ll tackle the areas in your rolodex of marketing responsibilities that aren’t quite up to par. A closely held ally, in any case a B2B marketing agency that knows the ins and outs of inbound marketing, lead generation, or that can even help with paid search and social, is what you need as you reinforce your strategy.
Assessing whether you need outside help— and then intentionally building those relationships— is a crucial step to consider as you think about how you’ll organise your team for heightened execution.
3. Evaluate (Days 0 to 30)
In this phase, you’re rounding out your team, refining goals, assessing your team’s structure, and building on your relationships. You’re also auditing your company’s journey. In other words, it’s important to find solid answers to key questions such as:
- What has your company’s marketing efforts looked like up until you entered the picture?
- What cost-effective content strategy has been implemented or can be implemented to further sales?
- What’s your marketing budget and what constraints do those place on your strategy?
- What PR successes and failures has the company had and what led to them?
- What is the overall scope of the customer and company relationship and how has that been established up to this point?
- What’s not working about your current B2B marketing tactics that saas businesses need for growth? How will you improve them?
As you do this, remember to continue to communicate your ideas, goals, timelines, partnerships, and any relevant information with stakeholders as you develop each. Don’t leave them in the dark until anything is set in stone, since you’ll be dealing with lots of moving parts from the very beginning. But, asking yourself the above questions means there’s a lot of data you’ll need to digest and look through as you piece together strategies and marketing campaigns.
It’s important to not hesitate to ask for or find help if you realise you need it. For instance, in relation to the last question about cost-effective marketing efforts, is there no set content strategy you can work with? How much would it take to outsource the bulk of that work? What are the time implications of that?
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Internal agreement leads to external action.
1. Strategise (Days 15 to 45)
The next 15-45 days are your Strategy phase, which can bleed right into your ‘Evaluate’ phase once you get going. Strategy is where you’ve moved beyond building relationships, and are now getting familiar with expectations, and establishing rapport with stakeholders.
Here’s where a lot of people can get stuck while creating a half-baked strategy that isn’t documented. Whatever you do, don’t let that be you. While you don’t have to have a complete strategy in place, you can definitely start developing plans for early wins that will get the ball rolling. With those small wins under your belt you can then think about an overarching strategy that’ll improve ROI.
How do you do that? Here are a few tips:
- Get clear on your short-term and long-term goals
- Research your audience as well as your competitors
- Develop a lead generation strategy (or communicate with your agency, if you’re using one, about creating one)
Don’t be surprised if you’re spending a lot of time in the Strategise phase. It’s where all your resources and prep can finally converge to help you create your marketing vision. Once you set your marketing goals with a data-informed strategy behind each, you’re setting the tone for the type of CMO you’ll be and how you’ll fit within the company.
2. Assert (Days 30 to 80)
The ‘Assert’ phase is where you can win the trust and gather pragmatic feedback. It’s also the phase to put your strategies and findings to the test. For instance, if you’re working with an agency to strengthen your content strategy, by this time you should be able to execute a detailed content plan to start gathering results and feedback as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, managing your in-house team will take working within the bounds of what time and resources allow. Meeting daily at this phase is likely necessary. You need to carve out where you’re going while also assessing yesterday’s accomplishments and detailing what you’re currently working through.
While again, you might be able to outsource work to an agency you trust and work closely with, your in-house team will need access to tech that enables them to analyse data. CRM software can ease the customer communication process as you create campaigns, automation, and store and organise precious customer data.
3. Inspect (Days 45 to 90)
In essence, the first 90 days revolve around growth. But, you can call your 45-90 days your ‘Inspect’ phase. This is where you can showcase any wins you’ve had thus far, pinpoint key insights from your efforts, and update what isn’t working in your processes.
For instance, this is where you can put together a presentation shining a light on your progress. Simple summaries of what you’ve been able to uncover and get closer to achieving can help quell concerns and shape the direction your company is taking. The more concrete data you can showcase to support your efforts, the better.
Secret 7th phase: Focus on growth
In essence, the first 90 days revolve around growth — though don’t be surprised to run into blunders either. They happen — what matters is that you learn and iterate quickly. Avoiding blunders and focusing on growth can take closely aligning your marketing team with adjacent departments — like sales.
Here are some ways to make that happen:
- Establish long-term strategies with product development and operations.
- Develop processes to help you create blueprints for future strategies that can be measured— there are the next 90 and 100 days to think about and plan for too.
- Refresh your website’s content to increase demand generation by introducing new content that align with your goals and strategies so it reels in additional sales.
Executing the everyday demands of a CMO can be a lot. Enter Gripped. We are an agency that helps marketing leaders plain-sail their strategies through and see growth in the choppy waters of the digital world. No CMO should have to do all the planning, developing, implementing, and executing of their marketing strategy alone. We help take the pressure off your shoulders as you wade through the first 90 days as Chief Marketing Officer (and beyond).
Wondering how we can work together? Get started with a free Gripped audit here.