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Bad CMOs Say These 3 Things

The Technology Disconnect

When LeadMD started (way back in 2009), the marketing automation world was fresh and dewy-eyed. The implementation of marketing automation platforms lacked structure or best practices; it was the wild west. Back then, the lack of understanding around the technology made sense. We didn’t label CMOs as “bad CMOs” due to their misunderstanding of technology, because they were early adopters. It was as much our job to educate them along the way as implement the system for them. Everything was fresh, and fragile and wobbly in that ‘new to the world’ sense.

Fast forward to now and frankly, it’s getting old.

Too many marketing executives still have no idea what the purchase and implementation of technology will truly accomplish for the marketing department, the business and ultimately the bottom line. It is the #1 gap I see between great CMOs and subpar ones that get fired in less than a year. And the line is literally that thin.

Top 3 Things Bad CMOs Say

If you’re a CMO, or you’re sitting in a room with a CMO, here are the soundbites you might hear to indicate you’re listening to someone struggling to connect technology to the strategy they are supposed to own.

Number 1

A core tenant to great consulting is the ability to ask “why”. Asking this one question over and over and over again reveals layer upon layer of BS until the most relevant reason is uncovered. If the CMO appears anxious or bored by someone else asking “why”, that’s not good. But if you hear the CMO say, “Okay, that’s great but can you help us implement [insert the solution-du-jour here]?” That’s your red flag.

Number 2

“We just need to hire a [insert the solution-du-jour here] expert.” Oy. First and foremost, true technology experts are few and far between and if they’re not working on the bench of a top consultancy, they’re hoping from unicorn to unicorn. This, however, is a far less pervasive problem than the mentality of believing you simply need to find that “one” technology-specific expert to turn it all around. The marketing ship isn’t steered from the engine room, it’s led from the top with true comprehensive strategy, translated into process and people and tactics. You may very well need talent that can operationalize your strategy but I’ve never seen tactics as the true choke point. All too often technology to being looked at determining factor. Frankly, I’ve seen truly cutting-edge marketing executed with little more than an ESP and CRM. I’ve run marketing departments that brought in 100’s of millions of dollars in sourced revenues using a very basic tech stack that mirrored this – it’s why I originally purchased Marketo in 2006. But the point is, we had a well-aligned strategy, we had a process that worked, we were aligned with sales and we trusted one another to execute the playbook. And THEN we bought a platform and trained an expert. There are certain things your marketing department needs but a software first skillset isn’t one of them. To claim any system will save you indicates a deep misunderstanding of the actual problems the marketing department actually faces and the order in which they should be solved.

Number 3

“How will this tech allow me to get more leads?” Early on, LeadMD had a customer who, after our Marketo implementation, asked, “Okay, when do the leads start coming in?” This was a CEO. We explained that leads start coming in when you generate demand via activity. That activity is the job of your marketing department.

“Oh, I thought I was buying leads.”

No, just no. And also, WTF?

The mentality of these CMOs must pivot to how to use technology to build engagement. By shifting your focus from acquisition to influence, you put the technology where it should be—in a supporting role focused on the conversation.

In Conclusion

We’ve seen a lot of CMOs and other executives not understand how to truly leverage technology in a business. I expand on each of these areas and more in my article on DestinationCRM. Check it out here: https://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=128223

1 Comment

  1. Jen Gray on November 6, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    In my opinion, I’ve only heard these questions from Sales and the C-Suite team. A CMO and/or their direct reports (if no CMO exists) often have to answer these questions coming directly from their peers. The tough part IS to get the rest of your leadership team on board with this way of thinking then Marketing can finally focus on doing their job without having to spend a majority of their time answering these questions on a regular basis.

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