AnalyticsVerifying Business ValueFirst Month of a Start-Up: CMO’s Top 10

First Month of a Start-Up: CMO's Top 10

This is the fifth instalment of a five-part series on start-up marketing, and delves into the top 10 achievements the CMO should now be able to tick off the list.

Like I said in my last blog in stage four of my five-part series, as the chief marketing officer’s (CMO) first month is about to end, the honeymoon period (yes, that’s what it was) is also drawing to a close.

You can read about stage one – research – here, stage two – strategic planning – here, and stage three – content marketinghere.

These are the top 10 achievements the CMO should now have completed over this first month period:

1. Brand Decisions:

A consensus will have to be developed on all or most things related to branding. This may include decisions like what to brand (a combination of company, products, feature sets, people, etc.) and how to brand (target audience, brand name, brand identity, etc.).

2. Positioning Elements:

Once the branding consensus is in place, the CMO must work on creating key messaging and positioning pillars. These will help guide larger marketing, sales, and communication teams in the future as well. So one could say these are the very foundational items for the company’s marketing activities going ahead.

3. Marketing Channels:

I covered this aspect in detail in blog four of this series. The most relevant and useful marketing channels will have to be identified.

Based on the marketing goals (in terms of awareness/lead generation/conversion) and budgets at your disposal (think of an approximate range of cost-per-lead that the company can afford), the CMO must develop a marketing mix (approximate budget shares for each channel).

4. Content Plan:

Identify the types of content that will be most effective for your goals. CMOs may choose to raise awareness through blogs and videos, generate leads through white paper and webinars, and get conversions from smart ad copies. Since marketing goals are usually a mix of those mentioned here, a wide variety of content would have to be planned for.

5. Tech Stack:

Finalize the marketing technology stack and architecture that will be used. There will be software needed for a variety of activities – inbound marketing, Web CMS, blogging platform, social media, marketing analytics, email marketing, event registrations, market research, search marketing, lead nurturing, etc. Get your hands on to the plethora of free tools out there (thank goodness for free tools!)

6. Objective and Key Results (OKR):

Create objectives and key results for the first quarter and focus on the low-hanging fruit (things that can be delivered immediately or quickly and can create significant value to the sales cycle/business). I am a strong proponent of the OKR methodology (Google it!) and every member of my team has their own OKRs. When I travel to an event, I create OKRs for that as well. These documents help one keep track of progress in a clean and simple way.

7. Content Output:

Produce the first pieces of content for the company. I typically work on the sales toolkit, explainer videos, and Web content to begin with but these are more important for a B2B scenario. Some CMOs may choose to involve professional writers and designers. If you are still working on hiring the right candidates, don’t wait for them to join – get started by outsourcing the work immediately. Get stuff done!

8. Budget and Plan:

This is an important step to show the founders, board, and venture capitalists involved in the company how you are planning to execute the strategy you created in the first month. Tie the plan to actual activities and approximate cost ranges. This will help you give the stakeholders an idea of how much it will cost to get a certain result from marketing. Even an approval email that says, “Let’s keep it at about $20K a month” is a good result to get out of this exercise and gives you a benchmark to begin with.

9. Team and Role Requirements:

Identify the roles that will have to be hired and create a hiring plan with timelines and budgets (for each role). Approvals are easier to come by when you can tie an open position to actual results they will be expected to deliver to the business.

10. Get Your Approvals:

This is more important than words can communicate. Getting the buy-in and setting standards of deliverables and the right kind of expectations is very important. You have to clearly understand the perspective of the founders, function heads, etc. on things like the desired pace of growth, competitive standpoint, etc. Once everyone is on the same page, you face lesser disagreements and roadblocks later. And those are very, very important!

So there you go. The CMO’s first month blog series is hereby done and dusted. I think if a CMO achieves all the 10 things listed above in a month’s time, she or he is a keeper.

Do you think 8:1 is a good ratio, too? I’d love to hear from founders and start-up CEOs on how many of this and more. Leave your comments here.

Image via Shutterstock.

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