How CMOs should use their first 100 days on the job

Do not give in to the urge to launch large-scale transformation plans prematurely, as you risk creating expectations you can’t fulfil. In this article, we will outline how new CMO´s can balance the short and the long term in their quest for momentum and results.

While 100 days might be an arbitrary time span, it is crucial, with a decrease in CMO tenure and respect from other C-suite members, to quickly establish momentum in order to gain the support needed to drive the long term transformation of the marketing function. Yet, as most CMO ́s want to show determination, do not give in to the urge to launch large-scale transformation plans prematurely, as you risk creating expectations you can’t fulfill and throwing the whole Marketing organization into a limbo. In this article, we will outline how new CMO´s can balance the short and the long term in their quest for momentum and results.

Five levers to pull in your first 100 days

Once you hit day zero and are ready to get going, you need to be hyper-aware about how you manage your time and how you communicate. If you fail to pull the right levers, you will lose credibility, and you can jeopardize the long term transformation that you are likely to commence. Also, on the communication side, you have, as a newcomer, a unique opportunity to create lasting alliances beyond the first 100 days – if you frame and articulate your approach to the transformation correctly, that is. While it is tempting to go out with all guns blazing you should actually do the opposite by adopting a listening, coaching, and constructive style. We see four key levers that you need to pull to make the first 100 days as efficient and effective as possible:

0. Ensure a strong pre-boarding

1. Diagnose the situation internally and externally

2. Show progress and credibility through quick wins

3. Mobilise internal allies

4. Present a plan for the long-term transformation

While you are pulling all these levers, communicating on the progress and aligning expectations upwards (C-suite) and downwards (Marketing organization) will be crucial.

0. Pre-boarding – preparing for day zero

In order to gain any ground quickly, you need to be equipped and prepared from day one. This preparation includes several topics that you need to acquaint yourself with:

  • Gain in-depth knowledge about your solutions, industry, and competitors. Marketing is simply selling at scale, and in order to sell, you have to intimately understand what you’re selling. This should also include building a basic understanding of the technical parts of the industry and product.
  • Read up on the corporate strategy and strategic imperatives, and try to understand how Marketing can deliver on those.
  • Align with your CEO on expectations in terms of business contribution, reporting, and mandates. And do it in writing – not casually over lunch.

On this backdrop, you are ready to hit the ground running once you start on the job.

1. Diagnose

Be frank about the fact that you are building something new and use this period to ask all the “stupid questions”. During the diagnosis phase, you should assess organizational structure and staffing, review agency relationships, meet with customers, and get comfortable with the numbers. In general, this phase is basically a ” health check” of the external and internal state of the Marketing function:

  • Internally: Review the organizational performance across functions and individuals through a maturity assessment and feedback from peers outside the Marketing organization. Also, look at the process map and identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and sources of friction.
  • Externally: understand how well the brand is performing through funnel analysis, brand tracking and qualitative and quantitative input from customers on usefulness, distinctiveness, and quality of the marketing collateral they see. Also, review where the marketing budget is spent and the outcomes that these activities produce

The outcome of this stream should be a clear picture of what is working and what isn’t. It is tempting to uproot everything but aim to build on what is working and spend your energy on the parts where value can be added quickly. </p<

2. Mobilize

Spend time with stakeholders to understand the current perception of the Marketing function. If you’re walking into a situation that has legacy issues, then understanding those through the eyes of your peers is the first step to proving your position. Spend time listening to, and collaborating with, key stakeholders to win their hearts and minds. This includes:

  • Setting up collaborative committees across key interfaces where there is a clear opportunity for mutual value creation between marketing and other stakeholders – this can be revolving around joint go-to-market plans, content creation, messaging, value propositions, and lead handling, etc.
  • Conducting In-depth Interviews with frontline salespeople to understand how they feel underserved, and what the Marketing organization should do better to empower them to do their job better or make their life easier.

3. Present

Design and present a plan for the long-term transformation: Including goal setting, detailed lists of initiatives for the coming 12-24 months, organizational blueprint, budget allocation, and vision for the Marketing function:

  • Strategy & Brand: How do you go about it – which partners do you use and what involvement do you expect from the C-suite.
  • Technology: How do you plan to orchestrate a connected experience, and where can the money be saved and made?
  • Organization: how will you organize, what is the current state, and how will you reach the desired end-state?
  • Measurement: how does success look like? How do you measure it? And what are the targets?

4. Progress

Act as a coach and facilitator rather than a dictator. Win respect from colleagues – if done correctly. Quickly putting your mark on the day-to-day operations and current initiatives without disrupting the flow:

  • Make yourself available for hands-on coaching and sparring sessions with your team to show ownership and leadership, but also use it as an opportunity to test your team’s thinking and strategic rigor.
  • Involve your team members in the transition. Ask them what they believe you can do better, and how those changes should be implemented.
  • Look for quick wins that can help show progress (inside and outside the Marketing organization) to win a mandate for change and help fund the journey.

Driving the long-term transformation: Building a roadmap for the next 12-24 months

Once you have settled and survived the honeymoon, you need to work on the long-term plan on how to build a Marketing powerhouse. As many of the cogwheels of the Marketing Operating Model are interdependent ( e.g. Marketing technology utilization depends on that lead processes are in place which in turn depends on the availability of high-value content), it is crucial to understand not just what changes you need to implement, but also in which sequence these changes should be initiated. Here is a brief overview of some of the topics.

Exhibit 1

Possible topics for 12-24 months roadmap

Want to learn more?

This topic is just one of the topics we cover in our recently released Marketing guide for Commercial Executive in BtB companies. It will help you answer questions such as:

  • How should I organize my marketing department to create maximum value for the resources available?
  • How do I define the most optimal tech stack to boost my department’s productivity and improve customer engagement?
  • Which activities should I insource, and which should I outsource?
  • How do I make the collaboration with sales more value-creating and frictionless?
  • How do I make sure that my people spend time on creating value for our customers and business instead of putting out fires or doing tedious, repetitive manual work?
  • How do I measure the Marketing function’s performance?
  • How can I improve our ability to capture and use data across touchpoints?

If you are pondering about the questions above, you should sign up below to receive our newsletter and stay updated on our latest thinking on sales, marketing and leadership.

About the author

Mikkel Bach-Andersen
Mikkel Bach-Andersen
Mikkel has has 12+ years of experience of consulting B2B companies. He has a functional focus on brand strategy, value propositions, segmentation, organizational design, commercial strategy, product launches and deal acceleration.

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