The primary role of the founder and CEO is ever-changing and by that, I don’t mean that it is constantly evolving over time, even though it is. What I mean is that it changes from one moment to the next and at times in a split second. And while the list of your duties, roles, tasks, and priorities will continue to shift, the need for connectivity across your business is ubiquitous and everlasting.
The role of marketing is to connect your customers with your value. While the effort involved is anything but, it is really that simple. If you can effectively connect your customers with your value, they will make that first purchase. If you can continually and consistently deliver that value, they will come back time and time again. So, if we accept that as valid, the role of your Chief Marketing Officer has more to do with connectivity than it does with the tactics he or she uses to achieve and exceed goals – only one of which is marketing.
Much like your role as CEO or founder, the role of CMO is going through an evolution of its own. While traditionally thought to be the chief executive in charge of promoting your brand and product, this has evolved to be merely one area of a CMO’s responsibility. As you look at your business’s needs, here are three other areas that you should consider when looking at a chief marketing leader for your startup.
Customer Experience: Recent studies have shown that brands that are focused on hyper-relevant and deeply valuable customer experiences have an exponential opportunity to grow brand recognition, market share, and revenue. Additionally, brands that successfully deliver on customer experience are seen as more innovative and relevant than those who don’t.
This shouldn’t be a revelation to most CMOs, however, studies show only about 9% of CMOs consider themselves owners of customer experience. Make sure you find one that does. Better yet, find one who can give you quantifiable proof of how they’ve succeeded in this space.
Culture: If marketing is how we communicate to our external stakeholders, culture is how we communicate with our team. Your culture is your brand explicitly packaged for your internal constituents and closest partners. Anyone who is contributing to your business’s growth by working for your company should benefit from your brand values as they engage and perpetuate your mission. This can be reflected in small things like development opportunities for your employees to paying invoices promptly. The way your workforce experiences your brand is incredibly important as these folks have the potential to be your most effective advocates.
Your CMO should be engaged at this level in order to deliver the same experience and value to your internal stakeholders as they are committed to for your customers. This should not be an afterthought or a secondary objective, it should carry equal weight with your marketing leadership and they should inherently understand why.
Connectivity: As your business grows from five people to twenty-five and again to one hundred and five, the task of maintaining alignment across the organization will grow by many orders of magnitude. You will likely employ a few key staff and some effective strategies for ensuring that all corners of your shop are working well, effectively and together.
Your CMO in the early days should be someone who has the ability to connect and engage across the organization as it grows. They should be someone who embodies your mission and leads its advocacy. And, they should be someone you can rely on, confide in and seek counsel from. Think of the CMO as the friend who is always talking you up and never lets you down.
If your CMO owns both customer experience and culture, it stands to reason that they are consistently and constantly engaged across all segments of your business. From product to personnel and from analytics to accounts, challenge your CMO to go beyond the traditional marketing job description to truly own the entire brand experience at every touchpoint.
Shane Needham is a communications professional who serves Tampa Bay Wave as a mentor and a member of the Board of Directors. He is also the founder of Coconspirator, a local outsourced CMO firm based in St. Petersburg.