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House on eroding sand foundation
June 12th, 2018

High CMO Churn—Obviously, the CEO’s Fault

We’re not complaining about the high churn in CMOs, because each time one of our loyal CMOs moves to another company, we get the chance to serve again—and gain a new client.

Why do we get the chance to serve again? It’s simple. The CMOs we’ve worked with understand the power of a well-conceived brand. And the trajectory of growth that can be achieved by aligning brand strategy with company business strategy. They also have the gumption to tell the CEO who’s hiring them that they’re not going to develop any new marketing strategy or create any new campaigns until the company has done the necessary groundwork on its brand.

We have countless examples of C-level business and marketing leaders who move to a new company and give us a call. Invariably they move to their new position because the new company needs help. The last person in the hot seat didn’t deliver, or couldn’t get done what needed to be done. The marketing strategy that person implemented didn’t achieve what the CEO wanted. And we know why … because we got the call.

So why did the previous marketing person fail?

They were trying to build a strategy on sand—a very shaky foundation. The company probably had the usual vision, mission, business goals, and sales targets, but there was no brand strategy. No higher brand purpose around which to build culture and advocacy. No unique brand pillars or meaningful brand positioning to truly differentiate from competitors. No character-building brand personality to enhance communications. And finally, no market-segmented brand value propositions to help secure customer relationships and drive preference. If these were in place, the marketing strategy would have held up. It would have delivered results to satisfy even the most demanding CEO.

BRAND is one of the most valuable assets any company owns. Even more so if the company is the brand, which it is in the majority of companies we work with, i.e. small-to-mid-size product manufacturers in the US and Canada.

My primary role as a partner at BOLTGROUP is business development. Sometimes, when I first speak to the company President or CEO to introduce our firm, they say, “You need to speak with Susan (or Fred or Barbara), our head of marketing, she oversees all the brand communication.” That’s my first sign that there’s a problem.

First, brand communications and marketing are not BRAND.

Second, BRAND should not reside in marketing. It belongs in the C-Suite, at the head of the table!

BRAND is who your company is.

BRAND is the very expression of why your company exists.

BRAND is the identity through which every person, inside or outside of the company, creates a perception of who you are and the value you represent.

BRAND is the reputation upon which every action, or product or service you deliver, has an impact.

So, if you’re a CMO, or VP Marketing, or Director of Marketing at a mid-size manufacturer, and you feel like your footing is shaky—take BRAND into your next executive meeting, place it in the middle of the table, right in front of your CEO, and say, “This is where BRAND belongs.”

You have to start at the top to build brand success from the bottom up. Try it, everyone will win.

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