So you’re a brand new CMO (and by “you”, I mean “me”), where do you start? That’s what I’ve been figuring out for the last few weeks as the new CMO at FINSYNC.
There is no “I” in “Team”
The first thing was easy: I need a team, and we’re hiring, so email firstname.lastname@example.org if you or a marketer you know is looking for a big challenge in the SMB/fintech space. Our office is in Galleria. I may be a new CMO, but I’m pretty easy and fun to work with.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Second, I committed to learning the business. How it works. Who works here. Who’s the customer? Partners? Distribution? Everything. By talking to employees, customers, and partners, I think I understand the gist of the business, though the details are still foggy. Talking to customers has been by far the most enlightening part of this process. As a new CMO, learning from the customer point of view was my top priority, and will remain so.
Head over Heals
Third, dive into the details. I had no idea what I was doing, but I have a good eye for what’s good and what’s not good from a marketing perspective, so I just jumped in the middle of every project I could find. Most of the time, I didn’t (still don’t, really) know everything that’s going on, but if you’re in the mud for long enough, some if it’s gonna get in your ears, and maybe that’ll ooze into your brain. Kind of like osmosis…or something.
Get Organized, Mr. New CMO
Fourth, organize my thoughts. I love that my office has 1 entire wall that’s a white board. Everywhere I go, if I have a white board and a few decent markers, I have confidence. It’s like a crutch. Gimme some markers and I’ll teach somebody something. I’ve filled and cleaned the entire white board 3 times now. I’m still figuring out how to organize the marketing attack.
Don’t Rebuild The Wheel
Fifth, talk to other CMOs. Had lunch today with Jeff Perkins, CMO at ParkMobile. We had a great lunch at McCray’s on West Peachtree. Great place to eat! And Jeff spilled so much wisdom that I’m still writing it down as things pop into my head. The key takeaway: find the quick wins, and win them.
As the CMO, it’s my job to take the vision of the founder and deliver it to the market. It’s his vision. There’s the rub. When it’s your vision, you fully understand it all the time. When it’s someone else’s vision, you have to learn it. There’s a scene in the most recent remake of “A Star is Born” when Bradley Cooper is asking Lady Gaga about this song she’s been working on. He asks, “How do you hear it?” That’s when the magic happens, as she proceeds to bring chills to spines around the globe when she reels off her lyrics in a parking lot in the middle of the night.
But it’s how she sees it that Cooper has to hear, learn, and adapt. I don’t want to ruin the movie, but Cooper is Gaga’s CMO. He literally took her to market by adapting her vision for the song into actual music, and then quite literally throwing her on stage to deliver her vision. The way Lady Gaga so very innocently plays that role of “OMG I’m on stage with this rock star singing my song to thousands of people” is amazing to me.
Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail
Finally, create a plan. That’s next: create and deliver a plan that the CEO approves of, and gives the budget for, that will deliver on needed and projected growth of the company. I expect to learn even more in the planning and approval process. I’ve already asked “have we tried that before? What happened?” dozens of times, so I’m trying not to repeat previous mistakes by just making the mistake ‘my way’.
“Everyone has a will to win, but very few have the will to prepare to win.” — Vince Lombardi
A plan – not even a really good plan, just a plan – prevents a lot of headaches by providing at least a direction, if not step by step instructions towards your goals. But the goals have to come first. As a CMO, what should our team’s goals be? How will we reach them? What does “success” look like?
I’m a new CMO, but I’m not the first, and I certainly recognize that I cannot do it without a great team.