Engaging the CMO

Over the years, companies and organizations have sought to serve the needs of chief marketing officers, offering conferences and councils. Another sign of that outreach: Omniture recently launched CMO.com, a Web site with the tagline, “Insight & Resources for the Digital CMO.” At first glance, the Omniture site might look like another marketing ploy. But times are changing and CMOs are shifting more of their attention to the Web.

There’s an old, but true, joke that the average CMO’s lifespan within a company is roughly equal to the gestation of an elephant: 22 months. This situation can lead to a lot of ups and downs for people in this role as well as the company swapping these people in and out. It is difficult to continually change direction, focus, and targets with a marketing plan. As a result, there’s a need for some of the more traditional, seasoned types who fill these CMO positions to change their ways a bit. They must keep up on current trends and opportunities and ensure they are taking advantage of the newest things that can help drive their business.

Nothing has been more of a focus than the transition from traditional media to the Web. This includes display ads, paid search, and other ways to advertise and attract business. But it also includes the corporate site and any and all social conversations that occur, whether they are controlled, monitored, or influenced by the company at all. It’s safe to say that the CMO’s job has never been harder. There are numerous traditional methods that still make sense, yet there are a lot of digital opportunities controlled by the company that also make sense. And now CMOs must figure out how leverage and handle all of the loud word-of-mouth noise that can make or break the success of any single campaign plan or their careers.

So CMOs are looking to stay on top of trends. They want to find ways to raise the bar and make an impact on the business that they can share, learn from, and continue. They will seek to learn about this from places like the Omniture CMO site, as well as the many other sites out there that cater to this audience (including, of course, ClickZ) and from their peers.

But CMOs will also look for knowledge from people within their own organization, experts in the different strategies, technologies, and the like. What does this mean to the people in charge of measurement, optimization, search, or social? It means there is a great chance to educate and share the benefits and potential upside in leveraging these opportunities.

In the past, I’ve written and spoken a lot about needing an executive sponsor to help shift an organization and change the culture — from launching something and then moving onto the next project to continuous improvement. This is done by defining goals, measuring against goals, identifying opportunities to improve, and acting on them. This can be through tuning a campaign using A/B or multivariate testing.

If you can prove the potential upside, this is your chance to get the executive support that you need to be successful and shift the organization. Take advantage of this and let me know how it goes!

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