7 Things Every Product CMO Desperately Needs (and How to Get Them)

It’s a prestigious and coveted title, but the job of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) sure comes with a lot of baggage. 

Most infamously, it’s the shortest-tenured role in the C-Suite — with an exit expected about 30% sooner than for a CFO or CEO. 

As CMO, you’re also expected to wear a tall stack of hats, while under constant pressure to create value. And prove it. 

Meanwhile your world is changing faster than any other in the organization. Not even the CTO, whose team battles DDoS attacks, pharming and viruses, is expected to navigate as vast a plethora of platforms and channels. As CMO, you can’t choose just one or two. You must be master of them all — not to mention whatever the heck app will become next year’s sweetheart marketing platform.

If anyone knows your pain, it’s the folks in my shoes: marketing agency owners.

An agency’s most valuable functions to a CMO (and to every client’s marketing team) are to minimize stress, drive ROI — and generate glory. For a specialized product launch agency like Graphos Product, we are hired to ensure your next product’s market entry is a glowing success. 

Usually that’s centred on a strategy partnering role, the value of which no one understands better than the CMO. Enterprises tend to get sucked into deep ruts, with the majority of marketing managers living in the past and present rather than the future. 

That means they get hung up on tactics that have worked for them previously, and are consumed by the Crisis du Jour — while the CMOs alone is truly focused on creating future value. 

Good agencies know this, and recognize we must constantly be digging into new technologies, platforms and channels. Through doing our work, we tend to have boatloads of recent experience with new and emerging things, and can advise you if a chatbot or social channel integration tool lives up to the hype—or is just another dud. In the case of Graphos Product, we’ve taken a dizzying range of products to market for clients all over the world, and have a deep understanding of how to penetrate a market. That’s what we think about all day long, every day.

That is why it’s become the norm for CMOs to work with a handful of highly specialized agencies. There’s no denying that the days of domination by a single AOR are on the way out of the building, if not already buried next to it. The marketing landscape has become too complicated for one provider to be the master of everything. 

There is a specialist agency for EVERYTHING. If you need to break through to Hispanic females, there is a marketing agency just for that. Seeking to target high-net-worth millennials? Likewise.

The specialization trend (which is looking quite permanent) is not only good for CMOs — it’s essential to their success within this new environment and its expectations.

When you think about it, betting on a single agency for everything you need done is a fool’s errand. Even a large advertising or consulting firm with amazing depth can’t sustain comparable expertise to a curated roster of truly specialized, goal-appropriate agencies — and it certainly cannot be more cost-effective. 

As the CMO managing those resources, you are much better able to measure and tweak them on a macro level — or swap one out if necessary. Each of those agencies has a highly motivated owner who is your subject matter expert, with teams who understand your goals and unique peculiarities, so the level of finesse surrounding every moving part can be remarkable. 

There are so many specialties available to a CMO that it has become part of the job to understand which ones you need based on your goals, available resources, the agencies’ strengths, and the chemistry between everyone involved. That tends to put a lot of work on the front end, getting the right teams in place — but once you do, there is a lot of gain (and enjoyment) to be had in learning daily from a dream team of experts, all operating within their area of highest competency.

Here are seven ways that leveraging specialized agency teams can make you more successful as a CMO or marketing leader:

  1. Distributed expertise: you know exactly which agency team is accountable for each major objective, from your Go-to-Market roadmap to niche audience targeting. 
  2. Reduced risk: a single project or account manager can’t obscure all your metrics — or derail all your efforts.
  3. True specialization: with Navy Seals teams of genuine experts, you are not entrusting your success to a chaotic assortment of freelancers, the quality of which depends on an internal manager’s talent pool, sourcing and management capabilities.
  4. Better agility: if one specialized agency is not performing or isn’t a fit, you can adjust or even bring in a replacement with minimal impact on the other moving parts. (Try that within a traditional AOR engagement.)
  5. Goal alignment: whether your goals are relatively simple or crazy elaborate, every partner you work with should have its own number — the key measurable that shows how it helps you move the needle towards your principal objectives.
  6. Less stress: when you’re surrounded by segment leaders excelling at their own true passion within their superpower, it gives you confidence — backed by metrics and visible results.
  7. Deeper learning: you’ve chosen this career and achieved your position for a reason. Surrounding yourself with top experts at multiple disciplines helps you advance, and gives you a competitive advantage in your career. (That short average tenure ain’t likely to change anytime soon.)

Clearly, the job of CMO will continue getting anything but easier, which is truthfully what you want. Every success only raises the bar for your next challenge, and none of us are in the marketing business to rest on our laurels, repeat ourselves or to coast. 

Here is what you can do: 

Celebrate that you’re in a position to play such a meaningful role, in what is truly an amazing time to be doing it. 

Seize on to the expertise available right now, to achieve that next monstrous success. 

And together we’ll come up with a way to outdo ourselves the next time!