Agency Models Business Leadership Budget

4 ways CMOs can accomplish more with less

By Elise Stieferman, Director of marketing and business strategy



The Drum Network article

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January 12, 2023 | 8 min read

Want more bang for your buck? Elise Stieferman of Coegi says CMOs should focus on four key things: relationships, accountability, testing, and customer experience.

Boardroom meeting

CMOs should adopt a holistic approach to get the most out of tight budgets / Campaign Creators via Unsplash

When times get tough and uncertainty causes unrest, marketing resources are often the first to be cut; too often, they're seen as ‘non-business essential’. Right now, consumer concerns over inflation are resulting in fewer dollars spent.

Marketing teams are being asked to accomplish more with less and, for a chief marketing officer (CMO), these are challenging odds to overcome. In Q1 2022, 50% of the C-suite wanted to use marketing to grow revenue; 41% indicated reducing costs and finding greater efficiency as a priority. But not all hope is lost. Here are four key steps CMOs should take to do more with less.

1. Ensure your relationships are functioning properly

Marketing is a relationships game. Marketers need to find ways to build relationships between the brand and its customers; they need internal team members that can help support the company vision and drive impact, and help fill in gaps where their talent and technology fall short.

When any of these relationships are coming to blows, there's a guaranteed impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing. Equally, if it feels like any of these relationships are all rainbows and butterflies without honest conversation, you’ve likely got a problem and are missing out on opportunities.

So, what should you do to ensure your key marketing relationships are functioning to their fullest potential and driving the greatest impact?

First, regularly ask for feedback from customers and act on it, proving that you hear and care about their opinions.

Second, hire and promote; not just for skill, but also for culture and leadership. It’s much easier to teach someone skills than it is to shift personality and attitude to adapt to your culture.

Third, find partners that allow the sum of your parts to be greater than each individual. Lean into hybrid brand-agency models. Identify technology solutions that allow your team to work smarter, not harder. Eliminate existing partners that cause unproductive friction.

Finally: ensure all these relationships are rallying behind a unified brand vision.

2. Provide measures for greater accountability

Lack of accountability for your team and marketing strategy is a guaranteed way to incur wasted time and cost, neither of which can be recovered. To optimize your team’s efforts, ensure there's a strong project management process and communication standard in place that leaves all team members clear on the status of tasks, timelines, and overall expectations. Additionally, ensure you're a resource for oversight without micromanaging or insinuating you don’t trust your team.

Marketing initiatives must clearly level up to overarching business goals. Create efficiency and effectiveness KPIs for every tactic. Then, create a reporting system where each decision-maker across the organization clearly understands how your marketing strategy is making their lives easier.

Show your ROI to your chief financial officer. Show trends in marketing-qualified leads and sales to your chief operating officer. Show your percent change in new customers and customer return rate to your chief executive officer. Tailor your reporting to showcase the value your team’s efforts are providing to avoid further resource restrictions.

Make your marketing goals universally known, and reinforce the importance of these goals to the overarching company mission in order to shift the outlook from other departments and build confidence in your team.

3. Test and learn nimbly, to make smart decisions

When marketing resources are tightened, the impulse reaction for many is to start cutting, putting every dollar into performance-focused channels, focusing on ways to lower costs. Going into this default mode can be harmful, causing your marketing to be a fight for quantity over quality.

Even when you have fewer advertising dollars at your disposal, don’t go into auto-pilot. Make the most of what you have with a test-and-learn approach, evaluating what produces desired results and pivoting intelligently as you gain new insights. Create a sandbox in which to fearlessly try new things, rather than treading water and waiting for things to change.

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4. Optimize the consumer experience relentlessly

When you don’t have the budget or bandwidth to build something new, optimize something that already exists: your customer experience (CX). Even the strongest marketing strategy cannot fix a bad CX. It’s critical to continually find ways to reduce any friction that impedes consumers from taking the final steps with your brand, from the website to in-store, to other online marketplaces and more.

Regularly request customer feedback to identify opportunities for improvement. Analyze the path to conversion: is there a clear point of drop-off? If so, determine if it’s load time, price point, ease of purchase, etc.

Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and search for your brand in-store. Is it easy to find? Is it well-stocked? Does it offer value? Uncover ways to ease pain points to increase customer acquisition, build customer loyalty, and create brand advocates to be ambassadors of your brand.

Agency Models Business Leadership Budget

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