Of all the C-suite roles, CMOs know better than anyone that businesses are built on relationships. But the work CMOs do is broad: Between managing their team, making martech choices, and developing their company’s brand, it’s tough to make time for all the people CMOs interact with.
One way or another, CMOs have to create rapport with everyone from website developers to writers to other CMOs. Truly time-crunched CMOs can buy access to third-party marketing relationship networks, but buying relationships is rarely the best way to build them. More importantly, CMOs who rely on them may fail to forge relationships outside their discipline.
Who CMOs Need to Know
In life and in business, the most fruitful marketing relationships are often the least obvious ones. No matter how busy they might be, CMOs need to get to know:
1. Their customers
At first, it might sound crazy for a CMO to spend his or her time communicating with customers. But outsourced CMO Erik Huberman argues that three-quarters of consumers won’t buy from a brand they don’t trust, and nothing builds trust like personal attention.
Look for scalable ways to interact with customers: Why not do a customer Q&A at an experiential marketing event? Does your company newsletter contain a “From the CMO” section? What about a fun poll about your next product concept? Ensure the CMO’s social accounts credit the customers who shared standout ideas.
2. Their CTO
Spending on marketing technology just won’t stop growing. Chief Marketer’s 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook shows that 42 percent of respondents expect their martech budgets to grow this year, while just 4 percent are planning for a decrease. The more CMOs invest in technology, the tighter their relationship should be with their firm’s CTO.
Although all relationships are personal to a degree, the best way CMOs can improve rapport with CTOs is through team collaborations. Almost every marketing function now requires technical support: Everything from setting up landing pages for whitepapers to tracking leads requires the input of developers and designers. Help the CTO market an initiative of her own, and she’s sure to remember it next time the marketing relationship team needs a hand.
3. Their CFO
It’s not just martech spend that’s on the rise; marketing budgets as a whole are trending upward. When Dentsu Aegis Network polled CMOs last year, it found 60 percent anticipated growth in their marketing budget over the coming 12 months. Corporate CMOs were particularly optimistic, with just one in 20 expecting their budgets to fall in the next year.
Because CFOs face constant pressure to cut costs, be honest when a budget increase isn’t warranted. If it is, invite the CFO to hear what your team hopes to accomplish with the additional money. Better yet, look for ways to turn finance into a revenue source rather than a cost center: If price is a common sticking point for customers, could your company offer installment loans or a branded credit card?
4. Social influencers
It’s no secret that consumers trust recommendations from their peers more than they do those made by marketers. But believe it or not, nearly twice as many consumers consider social media influencers “trusted sources” than their own friends and family. Especially in spaces that rely on word-of-mouth marketing, getting on social influencers’ good side may be the single best thing CMOs can do for their brand.
Where should CMOs focus their efforts, given how many platforms and people are in the social influencing space? Look for cross-channel competency and enterprise-level client expertise. Although Mediakix suggests CMOs look for those factors when choosing an influencer marketing agency, it’s also great advice for those who want to do influencer marketing themselves. Beware of fake influencers, however, who are tougher to spot than many marketers assume.
5. Startup founders
CMOs may not have “innovation” in their title, but they have a prime role in it all the same. In addition to branding innovation efforts, CMOs and their teams collect customer feedback. Particularly since the martech boom, marketers also experiment with new tools and processes.
Why, though, are startup relationships so critical to CMOs’ innovation work? Forbes contributor William Arruda argues startup-enterprise interaction is key to corporate innovation. By strengthening their vendor relationships, CMOs don’t just make things easier on their employees; they increase the team’s exposure to smaller firms, where many innovation ideas originate.
What makes CMOs successful aren’t the technologies or even the strategies they select; it’s the relationships they build. Customers want to feel listened to. CTOs want to be consulted on team collaborations. Startup vendors want to see that their partners are real people. If building those relationships isn’t key to managing a company’s image internally and externally, what is?