My First 8 Steps As A New CMO

A lot of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are changing jobs. Over the past few months, companies with new CMOs include: Blockbuster, Domino’s Pizza, KMART, Cheesecake FactorySears, Monster, Hertz, HeinekenPepsiCo, Booz & Company, Target, Barclaycard USOmni Hotels, and T-Mobile.

Since there are so many new CMOs, I thought I’d offer some advice on how to get going in the role. So here are the first 8 steps that I’d take as a new CMO:

  1. Re-establish our brand. Many companies have lost site of who they really are; they’ve lost their souls. One of my first steps will be to redefine our brand attributes through a process of internal interviews/workshops (to uncover what we believe) and customer testing (to see how we’re perceived).
  2. Put our agency work out to bid. Let’s face it, even the best agencies can get complacent. So I’d put all of our agencies (advertising, interactive, PR, etc) on notice that they’ll need to compete to keep our business. This should help drive innovation, get the “A” teams assigned to our account, and cut some costs.
  3. Refine our target segments. Most companies don’t know which segments are most important or they haven’t truly focused on some key segments. So I’d kick-off an effort to figure out the segments that can provide us with the highest lifetime value and examine what drives the purchase decisions of those segments.
  4. Increase investment in customer insight. In all of my work with large organizations, I’ve never heard anyone say “we spent too much on customer insight.” That’s because most companies spend too little in this area. I’d find a way to do more customer research, including ethnographic field studies, to make sure that we truly understand our customers’ needs, interests, and desires.
  5. Build-up employee brand advocates. One of my 6 rules of customer experience is that unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. So if we want to engage our customers, we need to start with our employees. I’d plan to spend up to 50% of my time working on employee communications and outreach; and build up internal brand advocates.
  6. Prioritize digital channels. Even if our company has focused on digital marketing channels, we are probably not moving as fast as we could be; especially if any of our target markets are younger consumers. I’d look to do more with online channels and weave together our online and offline campaigns.
  7. Improve usability of everything. I’ve evaluated the usability of 100’s of Websites as well as a bunch of phone, Web, store, IVR, and cross-channel experiences. And there are always a lot of problems. So I’d champion efforts to make sure that it’s much easier for customers to do business with us in every channel.
  8. Get people asking three questions. I’d make our company more customer-centric; shifting people’s thinking from inside-out to outside-in. How? By getting as many people as possible to regularly ask the 3 questions of a concept called “Scenario Design:” Who are your target users? What are their goals? How can we help them achieve those goals?

The bottom line: CMOs have a lot of opportunity to make a difference.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

7 thoughts on “My First 8 Steps As A New CMO”

  1. excellent list bruce, i printed it out.

    i see 1 & 2 happen a lot, although it seems like 1 happens without internal/external reviews – its either a survey-of-one or survey-of-few. and i think with the agency bid you may get fresh innovative thinking to increase long-term revenue… but, you’ll incur inefficiency costs transitioning the body of work.

    “increase investment in customer insight” is right on. the agency i work for (two west) is trying SO hard to do for our clients – its actually a pretty challenging sell. and i’m not sure why? why wouldn’t you want to know the MOST about your customers online and offline?

    and i couldn’t agree more with the rest of the list, but might add R&D to the digital channel to really push innovation in that space. cause it does move FAST.

Leave a Reply