Thought Leadership

Connecting Through Culture: Spotlight on the CMO

(Note: This continues our series of blogs highlighting individual functions in an organization and how their operations within workplace culture can either promote or hinder the achievement of desired outcomes. This blog showcases the insights of Culture Partners’ CMO, Erez Yereslove.)

Marketing has always been a multi-faceted function while becoming ever-more complex in the last decade. From creating awareness, to generating the right leads, to managing the brand, there are many moving parts requiring effective teamwork and collaboration. Add to that the need to build and evolve a multi-channel strategy—often involving multiple agencies—and the growing complexity of new channels and platforms increases the potential for gaps and disconnects.

In this context, team members could be duplicating work or missing milestones due to uncertainty over who’s spearheading a particular effort. Meanwhile, external agencies could be unintentionally solving for the wrong outcome if they lack full knowledge and context of Marketing goals or recent shifts in strategy.

“Having held the head of marketing role in several companies, I’ve seen how disconnects can blur the lines and cause confusion over specific roles and responsibilities,” says Erez Yereslove, CMO at Culture Partners.

Beyond these agency-related gaps, the classic Marketing and Sales divide also may be present, as well as silos among Marketing and Product teams. That’s when you can see Sales performing “shadow marketing,” creating their own assets and managing leads themselves, among other actions that could lead to brand damage and missed opportunities.

“That’s why one of my first priorities has been to connect the dots in a way that improves engagement, promotes innovation, and ultimately drives the organization to achieve better results,” explains Erez. “This includes integrating data across functions, so you can make better decisions based on the outcomes you’re targeting.”

A Dual Approach to Better Results

To make the most progress from the outset, you first need to consider what will enable key business functions to work together optimally to achieve business results, then what’s needed from a Marketing perspective:

  1. Align goals and results across each and every function: Clarity around high-level objectives improves interactions and aligns Marketing, Sales, Product, Finance, and Operations teams. Specifically, it eliminates conflicting goals and different measures for success that may have existed within individual teams—dissolving related friction and accelerating results. “This is a fundamental step that we help our clients accomplish through the Culture Equation®,” says Erez. “And just as we do, they can revisit and revise the Culture Equation as their strategy changes to ensure ongoing alignment.
  2. Constantly communicate: Internal departments, external agencies, and consultants all need frequent updates on Marketing initiatives, so they understand how things are tracking or changing. With those insights, they can double-down on their own efforts to meet underlying goals and/or offer up recommendations to tweak specific activities to boost results.
  3. Build Marketing structure and resilience: With wide-ranging activities to manage and quick-hit opportunities to address, internal alignment among the Marketing team itself is critical. “Whether you’re focusing on specific KPIs or big rocks, you need defined measures in place, along with regular team check-ins, so you can prioritize and de-prioritize activities and requests to keep on target,” says Erez. “Through this regular scrutiny, you can help team members avoid getting caught in the Action Trap® and make better use of time and resources.”

Data’s Role in Culture

How you think about and employ data can have a major impact on culture. “Typically, people think about data in terms of the results they’re getting for the organization—what kind of data do they need to capture and which measurements are most important?” says Erez. “But it also has a lot to do with the way people act in response to data.”

For example, Marketing could be executing what it perceives to be an exciting new program to move people faster along the buyer journey. Yet after weeks of time and effort, early results aren’t promising. Do the people involved feel empowered to recommend killing the project or instead feel compelled to take any number of actions to try to improve the outcome? Is inertia simply causing them to continue the project?

According to Erez, how people respond in situations like these depends on the existing approach to accountability. “If blame games and reprisals are the norm, it’s more likely the project will continue, even if it’s on life support. But when leadership communicates and stands behind a fail-fast, scale-fast approach, people are encouraged to both learn and take ownership when things go astray. Personally, I love celebrating failures from which we learned, recognizing those who took ambitious steps and addressed strategy and details, even though their initiative showed lukewarm results. Those are the best people to encourage further.”

While Marketing ultimately makes these data-driven decisions, Erez recommends that related reporting comes from Finance versus embedding a marketing analytics role into the team. “Finance can be the most objective in terms of what’s driving the business, with daily exposure to the big picture. That said, it’s up to Marketing to be sure that Finance fully understands how Marketing is contributing to business results.” At the same time, Erez says it’s important to remember that reporting isn’t one-directional or linear. It’s part of an ongoing cycle in which data must affect decisions and actions in order for analytics to be most impactful.

In the end, greater synergies and improved coordination with other functions, along with a culture that promotes innovation and positive accountability, is what will develop Marketing’s capacity to increase both revenue and ROI. And that’s when Marketing becomes a true growth engine for the organization.

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