CMO Letter

Dear Marketing leader and Future Marketing leaders, 

We have hit a cross roads, we are at a challenging time and as Marketing leaders you might feel you have lost your voice. 

You are likely being disrupted, maybe by small nimble brands, likely by a large incumbent or worse still your own organisation challenging your ideas and direction. 

Your traffic is going down, your app is being deleted and social media engagement is at the lowest it’s been. 

Customer loyalty seems at an all time low, the price always seems too high or you are losing money to acquire more customers than you can claim and your brand is at the most dilatable its ever been. Just look at the most recent comments on your Facebook, Review sites or Instagram Ads.

Your team is likely being squeezed, your headcount asks are being dismissed. Marketing isn’t producing what it used to and you are likely not confident in delivering a great campaign. 

Performance anxiety has rocked most the team and the rest of the team are looking for a different role. 

The Marketing team are all siloed, products are being built and developed and you seem the last to know. 

The value of the brand is being questioned and you don’t know how to answer it as your last request for paid brand trackers was rejected. 

Your team are panicked and overly focused by this quarters targets or those OKR’s, the team are miles away from the almost impossible KPI’s and delivering growth with a limited or tightening budget.

You don’t dare raise the question of strategy and direction as your team cannot escape actions and just get around to channels to develop tactics that seem to change fortnightly. 

You take a look at your team…

Your PR team is at odds with your comms team 
Your social media team feels disconnected from your brand team  
Your SEO team is not playing well with PPC team, whilst your digital team wants more and more budget to re-acquire the customers you already have. 
You need this thing called Performance Marketing but it means rebranding your team, moving some of the team and you question why is it different from Digital. 
You are having to hire specialists constantly but you know generalists are the ones who deliver the best work. 
Product Marketing wants to drive more awareness to your Products but your copy team or the Brand team just doesn’t have the same priority, so Product Marketing side with Product…

This is all happening while your agency isn’t delivering what it promised, they are acting like they know your brand and market better than you do, whilst serving too many other clients and shouting about it on their social profiles.  

You plucked up the courage to run a Marketing brainstorm and everything is Advertising not Marketing and when you ask what you are going to create as an organic campaign there is silence. 

You used to worry about ROI and now ROAS and you have just been told about this Econometric metric you are going to have to roll out because the CFO read it in HBR or heard it at a conference and it sounds like another way to turn the screw on you and then your team has to pivot again. 

There is a relatively new Growth team that sprung up and is building new things, optimising the old and making headway on CAC whilst you are stuck in meetings defending why you need to spend more money while some small competitor is eating your market share or your visibility metric. 

The sales team don’t care about the products, they just want you to drive more leads or better quality leads while helping them hit their bonus. 

You look at the latest rate card and wish you could convince the “boss” that a TV ad is going to get you new customers and sell more widgets. You find yourself saying “but it works for challenger banks”.   

Those places that used to give you inspiration, just compound your issues.
Even the headlines of your favourite lunch time reads – The Drum, AdAge, Campaign and the the rest of the Marketing press is reporting the lack of trust the c-suite has for the CMO and Marketing teams. 

Even your favourite escape – The Marketoonist cartoons seem to be pointing the finger at you, while you constantly agree and drop your head a little into your cold coffee and your packed lunch. 

It seems a little like a potential horror movie waiting to happen. 

You are more concerned about making a slip up or for you to say something silly or stupid so one of the other leaders can take a swipe at you and your team in the next management meeting, rather than deliver an amazing long term campaign to help influence your short term goals and drive more people to be aware of your service, increase their perception and making you their preference for the many years to come. Less people seem to know you, less like you and no-one seems to love your brand like they use to. 

Then there is John and Karen (your persona friends) that have been updated twelve times in two years, who seem to like more things, demand more and advocate you less. 

Your team want to create a branded podcast because they are passionate about audio but you cannot repeat yourself about what’s the return on podcasts. But you are fully aware your competitors are sponsoring every niche podcast.  

You give yourself five minutes to breathe BUT –

You are sick to the back teeth of the latest or next Google update, impacting your organic rankings. 
Google having tweaked the results on your brand terms and added more paid ads but reducing the organic listings. 
Facebook’s next tweak that will only show quality content to the 5-7 most engaged audience members you have left on your page.  
Your stories to be filtered by quality of engagement and the extra 100 videos you created to be undone by the latest view metric change that none and voids your video action plan. You are anxiously waiting for the next email from your CRM lead to tell you that Apple have changed the way we can deliver push notifications and Android has changed its protocol again.  
YouTube are going to show more related ads on your next how to video and your competitors are getting better quality watch time.  
Gmail have moved you to the Social or Promotion inbox because a tiny % less people opened your privacy change email. 
Not to mention Google have reset your quality score since re-platforming in the transformation project you weren’t really involved with. 
And of course, your next influencer campaign now has to have more hashtag ad added. 

You are of course looking forward to the next machine learning, AI conversation and tool providers selling you on their capabilities and expecting to know the next big trend and investing in another array of tools. 

You have even started to question the genius of Don Draper, the hours invested being inspired by Peggy Olsen and Don’s untouchable style.  

You pick up a branded magazine and know it is something you always wanted to do and realise even Red Bull have had to stop producing it. 

You are even hoping the Coca Cola Christmas ads are a flop so it can make you feel a tad excited. 

So what do you do about it? How do you compete with all of this?

Do you: 

Go to the top and fight for more influence? 
Go to the team and enforce more digital ads?
Go to the Product team and ask for more Product features to be built? 
Make all of your agencies re-tender in the hope they’ll change? 
Create another dashboard? 
Invest in another tool that will highlight all of the above? 
Speak to the CFO or finance lead and offer to take them to lunch and be-friend them? 

Sign up below for the next instalment to find out your next steps to fight the problems you face.

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