As featured on LinkedIn, January 4, 2023. We’ve seen this story before: A firm decides it’s time for a change. “It’s a new year.” “We have a shiny new strategic plan.” “We’ve elected a new chairperson or marketing committee.”
I am often called into these firms to look at their marketing departments and the effectiveness of the CMO. Yet, before management makes the rash decision to replace a CMO at the whim of a small group of partners, consider this:
- Ask your existing CMO and members of the marketing department the magic wand question. If they had one, what would they change? Are there structural impediments at the firm that may be holding them back, interpersonal situations that they have been uncomfortable with, or other issues of which you should be aware?
It’s best to know these issues to address them, or at least before having history repeat itself with your next CMO.
- There is enormous value in a CMO who performs an excellent job and has been in the role for several years. They know the ethos, practices, clients and the firm’s marketing challenges. In many cases, the longer they’ve been at the firm, often the more value they bring in immeasurable ways.
On any given day, a CMO often faces 50 decisions and judgment calls of all sizes. Many of those never rise to the level of involving management, and most a Chairman will never even know. Having a trusted person in the role to make those decisions is imperative.
- Consider to whom the CMO reports. We’ve seen several instances where the CMO reports to an Executive Director who may have professional services experience but lacks interest in the marketing function. If that’s the case, consider whether the CMO should also be reporting to the firm’s Chair or another senior member of firm management.
- If management has an unmet wish list of marketing goals, for example, a higher press profile, structured client teams, or an integrated CRM system, find out from the existing CMO what the barriers have been to accomplish these goals. Remember that each wish mentioned above requires budget, resources, leadership, and buy-in from senior management.
- Involve your CMO and others in your marketing department in strategic decisions, particularly those impacting firm revenue. The number of these issues may appear limitless, but so are the talents of a good marketing team. They need to be correctly utilized.
I always welcome other ideas on how a firm can continue to support and maximize the success of the CMO and the marketing team.