The first 100 days in office: pivotal for marketing leaders as well as presidents

As Donald Trump heads towards his 100th day of tenure, pundits are analysing his decisions and policies so far. A president’s first 100 days are highly indicative of the political agenda for years to come.

Trump will have a further 1,361 days in office. Yet, by contrast, the average marketing leader spends only 448 days in the hot seat after their first century.

Last year The Marketing Society reported that the average tenure of a chief marketing officer in the UK is now just 18 months. In some cases, this is down to choice and personal ambitions. For others, it’s the result of pressure from the board for marketing to deliver tangible results quickly.

Whatever the underlying reasons, CMOs and marketing directors need to give serious thought to their first 100 days in a new role. Accomplishments and actions must demonstrate impact in the short term while setting foundations for longer term success.

The first few months can be spent co-ordinating internal teams and external partners who may not immediately share the marketing director’s vision or appreciate the urgency of actions. However, there are bigger goals that need to be considered. Key milestones that every marketing leader should look to achieve in the first 100 days, whether they work for a high-growth startup or a FTSE500.

Customer-centricity

Ensuring all activity is originated with an insightful appreciation of customers will streamline marketing strategy development during the initial few months.

It should start with a review of the customer base, defining core buyer segments. Customer interviews and surveys are important. But speaking with internal sales teams and other customer-facing departments is vital too. There will undoubtedly be valuable knowledge squirreled away in the business that can be immediately applied.

Next, it’s possible to build out audience personas to understand major customers’ and prospects’ wants and needs.

This can flow into segments and preferences within the CRM system to create a means of tracking the sales funnel and customer lifetime value.

Landmarks:

  • Day 19: define customer segments
  • Day 38: customer personas and journeys
  • Day 77: CRM structured and ready to go

Positioning

The very first priority of any new marketing director is getting a snapshot of brand health to underpin planning.

It provides benchmarks that can enable progress to be evidenced over time. Not just in the hard metrics of market share and value, but softer metrics such as brand perception, awareness and consideration.

From here, proper market and competitor analysis (so often overlooked), running in parallel with customer insights, allows quick definition of key market challenges along with marketing objectives.

When personas are in place, brand positioning can be thrashed out – building off shiny new insights that allow for an objective yet emotive position.

Once visual development has brought it to life, and audience testing has put it through its paces, brand positioning can be shared throughout the business. This creates a clear vision for marketing and aids alignment with other departments that impact the brand.

Landmarks:

  • Day 6: brand tracking research
  • Day 27: marketing challenges and objectives defined
  • Day 74: positioning launched across the business

Activity

“What are we doing?” and “I haven’t seen anything yet” are snarky yet sustaining comments many marketing directors face during their first 100 days. Getting on with the job is important, but shooting from the hip and cracking under demands to ‘just do it’ is a short-sighted approach that can lead to a shortened tenure.

Defining customer segments and positioning before delving into campaign activity ensures early activity is joined up with everything that follows and avoids any initial faux pas.

Setting specific campaign objectives and shaping brand positioning into a creative proposition provides the basis to start building out activity.

The communications plan then starts to influence what will go into market, determining the assets required and media partners to get it out and engage with the audience.

For marketing directors that have stood strong in the face of pressure to get going, campaigns will be working well towards the end of the first 100 days. Others may find they’re simply wallpapering over the cracks.

Landmarks:

  • Day 43: Select priority audiences for activity
  • Day 62: Communications plan completed
  • Day 84: Core customer campaign live
  • Day 98: Initial activity report

Experience

Whilst outbound activity is important, brand experience can be the sticking point that everyone forgets to tackle.

The classic “that's the way we’ve always done it” can be a real frustration when trying to reshape the way people interact with the business.

A proper review of user experience is required – particularly on the digital side of things where insights are easier to obtain. Combined with an analytics review across digital platforms, this can identify quick wins to be implemented without too much challenge.

Next, hold a workshop for the sales team. This brings their knowledge to the fore, but also highlights assets they require to help enable the sale – especially with the growth of social selling and the role of sales being more dispersed throughout the funnel.

A content audit aligned to the customer journeys and user experience review enables requirements of different audiences to be mapped out. This will help the brand get discovered and sought out by audiences.

Finally, these findings can be implemented. Creating content that maps against gaps and opportunities, optimising digital presence and design, and rolling out high value assets will help marketing and sales deliver a cohesive, persuasive customer experience.

Landmarks:

  • Day 11: Web user experience review
  • Day 39: Sales enablement workshop
  • Day 46: Content audit
  • Day 74: Web optimisation and design with new content
  • Day 88: Sales enablement assets distributed

So there you have it. Logical steps to ensure the first 100 days balance near and long term priorities to deliver marketing success that translates into tangible business success. It can set the stage for a longer tenure, or provide a springboard for the next exciting leadership role.

Nick Davies is co-founder of Pretty Pragmatic

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