So, let’s start by getting several well-known facts off the table immediately.
• Today, the typical CMO’s life-expectancy at a single company is less than 3 years.
• They are expected to know every facet of the business, which is impossible.
• CMO’s are expected to manage a cast of co-workers to assist with marketing, creative and media initiatives. Many of whom fear making decisions.
• Internal teams are supposed to save the company money and time.
• Results are measured in hours and not in years, any longer.
• You’re only as good as your last success, which better have been in the past 5 minutes.
• You have a CEO & Board that doesn’t want to hear anything.
• They expect you to be the Savior!
Sure, it does. It’s the current profile of a regional company’s CMO, despite the insanity of it all.
So, what’s the outcome?
It’s created corporate paranoia, internal secrets and taken “CYA” to new all-time levels. It’s also made “easier” more important than “beneficial”, in many cases. And, let’s not forget their staff may not be better off.
I speak to internal marketing teams constantly and when asked about their media, their typical answer is “we’re good”. But maybe it’s time to challenge that notion by asking one simple question. How do they know?
National companies have it right. They use multiple agencies or utilize an internal team but rely heavily on outside agencies for assistance with specific expertise, since there is simply too much for one group to know. They don’t contract with a creative agency that “does media too”. They hire specialists in each area. By doing so, timelines are not only met but get faster, since responsibilities are carved out and multiple fronts are worked on simultaneously.
Interestingly enough, internal marketing teams ask for creative help, but many rarely seek media assistance. Traditionally, a company spends less than 30% of their overall budget on creative and 70% on media fulfillment. Being the larger of the two budgets, media is often targeted as the area they can save their company the most money, and justify their salaries, when in reality it’s often the area where they lose their company the most. But what if it was the area they could cut or save the most?
Being a good leader demands having many qualities, three of which is acknowledging the need for multiple perspectives, having the confidence to ask for assistance and the willingness to research all viable options.
Instead of assuming “they’re good” CMO’s and their teams should vet additional opportunities and the expertise of outsiders, if for no other reason than to substantiate their claim that they “are good”. However, the majority don’t.
They either attempt to do it all internally or they ask their creative company to make their lives easier by making their media buys. When in reality the majority of creative agencies either have very small or no media departments at all, but rather sub it to another buying firm, inflating costs and losing local market opportunities.
Even if outside assistance is utilized, there is still a plethora of work to coordinate efforts between groups to justify the employee’s existence, so they are not eliminating their roles, but rather strengthening their positions internally and being more productive every hour. Imagine how impressed the owner or Board would be if you found them unexposed opportunities that catapulted their sales or saved them millions in costs. What kind of superstar would they be then?
In nearly every case that I have completed a media audit of existing conditions, I have found those companies great savings or been able to expand their exposure by 35% or better, while actually saving them money.
Maybe one of the reasons CMO’s careers are so short is their fear to express that they need help, quality help. Maybe they would make it a fourth and fifth year if they did.