What's in this article?

Quick Start Marketing Plans
Where to Start in Your First 90 Days as a CMO or Marketing Director
Get the Lay of the Land
Where Does the Revenue Happen?
What Do You Have to Work with?
Find Out What Is and What Isn’t Working
Be Quick
Assume They’re Doing the Right Thing
Understand the Marketplace
Quick Wins Make an Impression
Some Specific Tactics
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Where to Start in Your First 90 Days as a CMO or Marketing Director

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Make the Logo Bigger Podcast Episode 24: New CMO/Marketing Director Strategy – 90 Day Plan

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BR: All right. Hey, we’re here for episode 24 of make the logo bigger. Um, this is just a podcast where Mike and I, uh, get together and talk about all the trends and things you should be paying attention to as a marketing director or CMO. And, um, this particular week we are both super crammed with stuff to be able to do. So we’re going to actually squeeze this in so it will probably be shorter to your advantage. Um, and we grabbed the topic that obviously, um, you’re all probably either familiar with, have gone through it yourself or uh, aspire to go through it. Um, but it’s completely, um, you know, quick we haven’t prepared really and we’re just going to kind of talk through. So the topic for today, Mike, uh, and I know this is a surprise to you cause I, I just kicked up the podcast and then told you what it was, is how to kill it in your first 90 days as a new CMO or marketing directors.

MC: That’s a good topic. I, you know, I hope my answers are, don’t feel like contrary to be contrary. Um, but, uh, yeah, I mean, you know, we’ll, we’ll dig into it, but it’s a,

MC: it’s a nerve wracking time. Neuromarketing is a thing. I’m trying to think of like a good analogy. You’ll think of a good one here, but when it’s working, no one pays attention to it, right? Like it’s a thing that it happens in the background and it’s what’s supposed to happen or whatever else, but when it’s not working, um, you know, that’s when the real problem is, and often when you’re brought in as the new CMO or the new marketing director, um, you’ve been brought in to solve the problem. Um, so, and the speed at which you address and resolve that particular issue is often tied to, uh, you know, the longevity of your tenure.

BR: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s super important. You actually kind of drilled into a point that I, I kind of wanted to make a little bit further down and, um, sort of the way I would think about this problem or this challenge, which we’ve all encountered. You actually kind of just went through it. So that’s one of the reasons I’m curious for your insights. This was exactly kind of what you’ve processed through [inaudible] and to some degree as an agency, um, Kalydeco, we do it with every new client and even ongoing as an agency, we’re constantly, as we used to always say inside singing for our supper a so to speak because we’re evaluated on a fairly close tight timeline, um, with high expectations sort of all the time. Even when we’re in an ongoing retainer, it seems like sort of for good reason, right? You’re, you’re paying for an agency and you’re paying for expertise, but our timeline’s always seem to get compressed.

BR: Um, and so, and, and expectations for results are 90 days or less sort of. So, but the point that I wanted to kind of pull out of what you said is something that I think often we forget, uh, both as, uh, a new agency partner or as a new marketing director or CMO, which I think is critical. First point of your thought processes, why am I here? Like you’re, you’re, you just got hired or we just got a new partner as an agency because of, because of something, right? Somebody got fired. Um, something wasn’t working right. Uh, maybe they’ve never had, uh, that, uh, that particular skill before, maybe they’re transitioning from an agency to take it in house, but there’s, there is a reason that that organization, um, felt like they needed this role filled or refilled. So that’s a super important first kind of place to go.

MC: And it’s, it’s as much a strategy question as it is like a political question, right? So, you know, when you, I mean you and I’ve worked on engagements together where, you know, with clients in the past or we’ve seen, you know, one, two, sometimes even three marketing directors like come and go during our tenure as the agency in residence, which by the way is super weird. Um, usually the, you know, the first thing to go is the agency, right? The second thing to go is the marketing director. Um, and then, and then when the new one comes in, if you’re still sticking around as an agent, so it usually your then the first thing to go because they’ve got their own agency want to work with and somebody that they’re comfortable with or, or whatever else. But figuring out who, to your point, like why you’re there more often than not, it’s not just like to generate leads.

MC: Right. I mean it should be like that should be the should be the thing, but like it’s, it, you know, unless the, the organization itself to sort of like flailing or failing and that type of thing, like you’re usually coming into a scenario which like things are kind to working. I mean, you know, the company wouldn’t be there, wouldn’t be able to hire and pay you if they were not. So, um, figuring out like what happened before you were there and, and, and, and then what happens, you know, and why you were brought in and that you personally even, but like why that it needed to be a change in this role is it’s gotta be step one and it’s a delicate process to sort of like plum the depths of institutional knowledge of your new team, of your boss, like the CEO or whoever it is your report to.

MC: Um, you know, to figure out what they want. And I think, you know, the agency experience for me, by the way, made this type of transition much easier because to your point, like you get used to doing it when you work at an agency because basically this is what you do every single time. Just like you said, you spin up a new client, but if you’ve never worked in an agency before, um, then you don’t really have a strategy to create the type of relationships you need to create quickly, uh, to find out who like were the power centers are in your organization. Like, you know, who makes decisions and how decisions get made is as less a personnel issue. And in like more of a resource allocation issue. Uh, which is like one of the things that I realized quickly when I started it in nutshell right now, I won’t get too candid about certain things, but like it, we’re a small but mighty team and nutshell.

MC: And when I first got there, it wasn’t a question of like they’re very sophisticated SAS company, right? And so like their is wasn’t bringing in necessarily any new strategies to the table, although I brought a few. But what I, what I figured out quickly, it was like the challenge was an execution, right? So figuring out how to leverage the resources of your company to execute the things that you want to do, um, is like, uh, you know, as a first step, the lay of the lay of the ground, you know, kind of gets broken up into four categories. And B, are you telling me what you think about this from an agency side? But this is how I approached it when I went to nutshell. It’s like, okay, so you have to take a lay of the land from a strategic perspective. Okay, what have they done before?

MC: What are they trying, what’s working and what’s not? So like, that’s fine. So what’s the, what’s the overall marketing strategy that you’re, you’re either fixing or you’re bringing in a new one. Um, then too is like if things weren’t working, why aren’t they working? And it’s not always because like the strategy was bad or the, even the execution was bad. Maybe the, you know, the resources weren’t allocated toward it or there wasn’t enough buyin, you know, from across the company. And so, you know, when you get a little win and people are looking for big wins, then they just kill the program before it gets a chance to start. There’s so many different facets to, uh, you know, to getting that lay of the land and understanding what you need to do to make your first 90 days successful, to get people excited about the fact that you’re there. Um, that become, you know, super challenging. I don’t know, when you come into an eight, you know, when you come into an engagement VR, like what’s the know, what are the top three things, you know what I mean? That even you do first and foremost, like maybe it’s a better way to put it as like the first three things that you think you need to know.

BR: Yeah. Um, yeah, so this is pretty common and, and my, my answers are probably a little bit different than than people would expect because oftentimes, you know, kind of strategies and that sort of thing and just kind of jump in there and start, you know, doing things that, you know, work. But for, for me, uh, both as a new agency partner and probably, you know, as a new marketing director or CMO in a organization, like, it’s really important to figure out like the ground that you’re standing on. Um, and I equate this to kind of battlefield, right? I want to know what the, the terrain and the features are and that, that, that includes as much people and psychology as anything else. So the, the first kind of three things that I want to know is where does the revenue happen and who’s on the hook for it?

BR: Because this depends on your organization and, um, and just to give you context, we’re not talking to ecommerce at all. This is really, it could be business to consumer or business to business, but we’re, we’re talking about generating, um, we’re not selling widgets, right? So for most of our clients, we’re either doing selling services or products. So I want to know where that revenue happens. How does it actually get generated? Does it, does it actually generate, you know, initially on the web, it’s maybe a free trial that converts into a paid customer? Does it, um, does it generate with the sales department as a sales, um, drive the revenue. And then, uh, and this is really important, especially in your marketing role, is who’s on the hook for that. Um, a lot of times it is the sales, right? And so if, if you in and marketing are not on the hook for generating the revenue, then you’re going to have different goals and objectives.

BR: Um, probably in this case to support sales. But if you are on the hook for it or for whatever reason, whoever’s running the show has the mentality that marketing drives revenue, even though there’s a salesforce there, um, then you’re going to have to kind of adjust what you do. So the first thing is where does the revenue happen and who’s on the hook for it? Because depending on your role, whether you’re a CMO or a marketing director, um, that’s gotta be your best buddy, right? Because you’ve got to make that person look good. Um, so even if you’re not on the hook for revenue, your smartest strategy is to make whoever is on the hook to give them the best support. The best support ever, and that they love you because they’re going to be, you know, as long as that revenue is happening correctly, they’re going to be the most powerful person in the organization, second only to the CEO, right?

BR: So whoever that is, um, and sometimes they have funny titles, right? So, um, and then what do I have to work with? So the second thing is, okay, what do I have here? There’s usually some set of infrastructure that’s already there with marketing. And what I’m trying to figure out what I have to work with, and this is actually a pretty common, I’ve got some great sort of war stories about, you know, having lunch with people and, and you know, they’re in a stressful position. Um, and that’s my first question is like, okay, what do I have to work with? Like, we could, we could make this work, but I need to know what I have. And that means team, like people, um, in what are their skills, uh, technology, the actual individual components that maybe you already have in place. And then in your, from your perspective, what you think your marketing platform is.

BR: So what do you think right now is doing the marketing? Is that email, is that content, is a web, is it your website? Is it social media? What is that? And then, um, and then probably the third thing, and this is a big category, um, I want to know, uh, from, from your perspective, in this case, my client or whoever, my bosses, what’s working, what’s not working. Okay. And you might find out later that that’s different from the answer that you get because the second part of that is, and it’s really important to you because this is where I’ve seen a disconnect before to, uh, with both clients and you know, whoever your boss is is what are they think’s working and what’s not working. It may not be accurate, but that doesn’t matter, right? If, um, if they think so,

MC: no it doesn’t. And that’s a really good point. How do they define success? Whoever’s responsible for your wellbeing at the company and how they not design, define success is like has to be your number one priority. Right? So like you might think that success looks like x, Y, Z and that’s great. And like at some point after your first 90 days that you can take the time to convince somebody that that’s the case and you build credibility. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really, that’s a, that’s a great way of point. I didn’t mean to cut you off. No, no, that’s such a good, it’s such a good point to make, right? Because it’s even the difference between, we talk about Seo on one of our previous podcasts, right? Like the difference between the language of your consumer, like who you’re talking to and what the languages that they use on the web and then the Lens, you know, to find your product or service to the language that you’re using as a company to like express what your brand does and like these things often don’t align and you got to figure out how to like, how to walk the line between them.

BR: And it’s absolutely not any different than we were talking about your boss or your client, which is like figuring out what they define as success and then what you define as success. And then somehow marrying these two things together so that hey, you can get the quick wins, which I’ll talk about in a second, but like, so that you’re doing the thing in their eyes that they see is going to, to push the company forward. Often it might even include doing something, it being successful in their eyes and then you’re taking the time to be like, and this is why this doesn’t matter or whatever the, you know, whatever the case might be. Um, yeah, that’s a really good point. Vr is like, you got to play the game for just a quick minute unless you’ve been brought in to like blow up the situation, which I’ve definitely been hired to do before. W we can, I’ll tell that story in a little bit. It’s like, yeah, it is, it a

BR: good distinction. And one of the points you made too is, uh, as, as kind of interesting and, and political and you know, kind of heady is as all that first steps sound, you’ve got to move through very quickly. So the best marketing directors and CMOs are going to be great at assessing situations, boiling it down to simplicity, being able to work through those personalities. Um, and you know, whatever assets they have available very quickly, you can’t, you can’t spend a lot of time on that and you might even have to go with some assumptions, but nobody’s going to pay you to, to hang out and psychoanalyze the Marketing Organization for 90 days. Right? So you’ve got to get through this process and, uh, you know, a couple of weeks, uh, real quick. Um, okay,

MC: well during the interview process, until that score, right? It’s like if you’re going to take a job as a marketing director and it’s like, just a piece of career advice is, you know, before you do that, before you take the job with Xyz company, you know, make part of your interview process, like understanding some of this stuff. So, and what I mean by that is if you’re managing expectations is something that agencies, at least good agencies do very well. Right? So the importance of an agency or like the importance of a successful agency engagement sort of depends our hinges really upon the account manager or whoever’s running that accounts ability to do these things super quickly. Right? Assess the resources, assess what’s working and not work, what’s not working. Um, and then, and then understand, you know, what they need to have happen to, to like have a quick win or or whatever else.

MC: But the, but during your interview process, for example, if they’re saying that like, you know, maybe they say to you like, what we really want you to be able to do is like track, you know, marketing source to sale or revenue. Well, if they don’t have like a tech stack in place to do that or the development resources to do that and they don’t expect to pay a lot of money to do it, then like maybe you don’t want to take that job. Right. So I think it’s, some of this can be done like even before you take the Gig, right. And make sure that you’re putting yourself in a position to be successful. Um, cause it’s hard to recover by the way, whether it’s a client engagement, I mean it’s little easier on the agency side, right? Because when a client fires you like, okay, you know, that’s fine.

MC: I mean it happens. That’s the natural ebb and flow of, of working at an agency. But if you’re taking a job as a CMO or a marketing director somewhere and you know, you can’t be successful or like that, you don’t have the tools to be successful and then you lose your job in 90 days, which can happen and I’ve seen it happen. Um, then you’re in real, you’re a real trouble man. Like, and none of it was your fault at all. So like your ability to assess the situation is as critical as your ability to do your job.

BR: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s super, super smart. And I like the fact that kind of pushed that into the, to the interview process. So super, super critical. And probably, and we don’t do this as well as we should probably even as agencies, we should assess this. I mean, we’ve got a couple of clients right now. We’re, um, we’re kind of set up for failure, right? Because they, they either don’t understand certain things or, um, quite frankly, their objectives won’t actually give them the results that they want. Right? So they say, Hey, I want to do this. Um, but then on the other hand, they want to realize, you know, a bunch of sales leads maybe. Um, but it’s like, hey, this doesn’t work. These two don’t flow from each other, you know, so you’ve got two different things going on here. All right, so let’s jump into, um, what I think, uh, personally it’s kind of the second component of that is, is kind of working with what you have and what do you focus on first.

BR: So let’s, let’s kind of set up a scenario. Let’s assume I have a website. Um, and, uh, that’s obviously what we’re going to kind of leverage as the home base. Um, and then, uh, from there, what are the other things out from that? Uh, that you would go looking for? Um, in that man, again, if you’ve got a website, you know, they’ve got a website, you know, in their mind, in your CEO, his mind or whoever’s your supervisor, um, kind of thinks, okay, the, the web meaning our website should be produced and leads. Like what, what do you start going in looking for?

MC: My second to think since I just blew this topic in on you. No, no, no, no, it’s good. So like, so I can, like I said, like you said, I recently kind of went through this, right? And I kind of, I didn’t have a plan when I came in, which was done by the way. So like the first, the first thing you gotta do is definitely have a plan. So I love this topic because I don’t think it’s something that people are really thinking about, right? You get a new job, you’re like, oh great, I’m going to be fresh for eight year or so to speak, or you know, something like that. But the, the first 90 days are equally as critical. So I broke it up into, into three things. So like one which is, you know, to your point, don’t, when you come into a new organization, my first assumption right was that like they’re doing things the right way.

MC: So don’t come in from the perspective that’s like all I know better automatically. There’s nothing more frustrating to your colleagues whether you’re an agency or whatever else that if you come in with the assumption that like everybody around you is a horrid, because chances are, by the way, in most companies that like they’re not and you know, and they tried many things and they’re not working for whatever reason. And so that, that’s that step one is like, let’s assume for a second that you know, the company is doing things right and then, and then the second step then is like, okay, if I assume that and let’s, let’s identify the areas that are, that are working well. So I always start with like, what’s working well? Where is it the most traffic coming from it? Great. But you know, what, what are they experiencing? And then the, and then the second part of that is to me is like the competitor landscape.

MC: I think understanding the marketplace in which you’re operating is probably like, it’s the only backup, just a little bit. Assume that people are, are doing the right thing. And then the second step or the first step from a strategy perspective always be okay, what, what’s the condition of this marketplace? Right? So like, cause you can understand a lot by, and I’ll use an example. So when I came into selling CRM for the first time and like I’ve sold software before with, with UPR and like in other jobs I’ve sold many things and, and whatever else and when I didn’t understand about the software marketplace is most most search engine marketplaces, right? Most keyword marketplaces are driven by you know, intent or like query based keywords. Um, which makes sense, right? I need this thing. So I’m searching for it on the Internet. What I quickly discovered, and it’s a different type of problem to solve and CRM is that 99% of the marketplace is driven by brand recognition.

MC: Like soft drinks would be most um, email marketing is the same way. I went down this path the other day, like checking something out, which is super interesting. So you know, email marketing software tools like only get 66 to 7,000, you know, global searches a month. Whereas constant contact, you know, gets 300,000 global searches a month or MailChimp gets a half a million global searches a month. And so people aren’t searching for Crm, they’re searching for the brands that they already know, like they’re searching for the actual product themselves. And so that was a really big like, Aha moment for me when I came in. So, so again, I returned to the, the first step to me is understanding the marketplace in which you’re operating, your online competitors, you’re offline competitors. Once you can learn from the people you’re chasing after, even once you can learn or from understanding why you’re beating other market, like, you know, other competitors in your marketplace. So step one for me was understanding the marketplace itself, um, to, you know, just to get, get your arms around like what the situation is, right?

BR: No, that’s a, that’s a huge thing. And I think we talked about this and touched it a little bit, we probably should do a whole episode on this. So people, uh, essentially assume and that they get their kind of their brand traffic or whatever, and pop, you know, doing things to increase that brand traffic can be just as valuable is sort of opening up the keyword marketplace for people that are just kind of doing random searches and it’s still an online strategy. It’s still a digital marketing, you know, you can make it easier for people to find your brand and then, um, you know, create that affinity and awareness, uh, somewhere else. And that can be just as valuable kind of linking those two together as it could be to, to build a whole bunch of like top, top, top of the funnel, uh, folks that are looking for the best CRM. Like that’s somebody just kind of wandered around, like looking for a silver bullet and that’s probably not the client you want. Right? So, um,

MC: absolutely. And then, you know, the other thing, which, and you know this about me, right? Like as a hardcore lead generator, you know, and particularly when you and I are working together at Kaleida code, 99% of our are 90% of our engagements. Like we’re not driven by brand, right? They were companies that were operating in spaces that, that people are looking for a solution. You know, they’re not huge like, you know, monolithic, you know, name, brand type of scenarios and you know, you’re, you’re just competing with like, you know, five to 10 other people, uh, companies in your marketplace and you’re competing on services or products like information or knowledge. And so I railed against the idea of vanity metrics, brand metrics, like hated that stuff as a hardcore lead generator. I was like, no, we don’t need to pay attention to any of this.

MC: And had I gone into nutshell with that same understanding and hadn’t taken the time to step back and like understand the marketplace. My first 90 days strategy by the way would have been like an abject failure because there wouldn’t have been a follow Hume or traffic or anything for me to make any type of gain or like or quick wins or anything like that because I would’ve been, I would’ve been trying to do something, you know, that was unachievable. I like, it was impossible to get to because I didn’t understand first and foremost that like the reason why our competitors are beating us all the time, it’s not because like we don’t rank for sales process and it’s because, um, you know, they’ve been around longer or they have more advertising budget and they’re spending more money on brand. And then that informed my strategy to go ahead and find ways to quick wins, which is why, by the way, my first 90 days wasn’t focused on lead generation right to the bottom of the funnel.

MC: And my first 90 days was focused on nothing but and actually almost my first year where I’m just getting out of it now, um, was focused on the bottom of the funnel and conversion. So how can I, what I figured out was that the quick win for me was not generating more traffic and more leads necessarily, but the, but how to close the leads that we were getting because you know, we’re getting x amount of leads a month more than enough. And if we just increased activation or conversion rate, but like half a point or a point, then you know, I could end up being the hero by growing revenue very quickly. So understanding the marketplace is going to lead you to that first quick win. Um, and that’s the, that’s the second thing I would say is that like you have to identify in your first 90 days a quick win of victory that you can share with the whole company.

MC: Then everybody stands up and he’s like, wow, he figured that out. Or she figured that out or you know, and, and now look at or on the path to do that for, for me, um, as an example, it was our live demo. We’re running a live demo once a week. Um, only one or two people were kind of like showing up to it. We wanted to scale our ability to, you know, or a small team or get lots of leads to so scale our ability to expose more people to the product while they’re in trial to teach them how to use it better. Um, and so like the first thing I focused my attention on was requiring registration for that demo, offering it more than once a week. Um, and then using a remarketing ads and other types of things to push people to and CTA is on the website or whatever else and to push people to register for it.

MC: And so we went from no registration, like just in being a link to open up and only one or two people coming out to anywhere. Now, you know, when we run it, you know, 10 20 sometimes 30 people show up to it and you know, 300 or so people register for it every month and it’s, it’s fundamentally changed in the slightest bit. The way we’re able to convert those sales are those prospects that like we don’t have time to talk to. Um, so that was like, that was the first quick win. I think I got it nutshell one of the ones that I was most proud of, but again, I would never have been able to figure that out had I not understood right off the bat that like the larger problem here to solve is brand recognition and I’m not going to solve that 90 days. So let’s figure out what the next, next thing, the next rung on the ladder is and then go attack that and get the wind to make sure that people know that you know what you’re doing or at least fake it till you make it. Yeah. Nice.

BR: That’s super interesting to, to, to be able to take something that’s kind of a, again, as a, as a marketing person, we often put things in kind of broad categories of, of what are our tools and you’ve got this thing that’s a live demo. It’s more of a sales thing and you’re actually enhancing the conversion. Uh, you know, in the sales process, and I’ve said this for a long time, it’s, it’s, it was our original heritage actually is probably people need to focus more on optimizing, uh, their conversions and sales than they do on, you know, marketing. Um, because there’s, there’s more to be picked up, right? You’ve already got them in the door, they’re already interested. They’re already familiar with you. If you could just pop that little bit of conversion, you’re so deep in that funnel at that point, you know, raising that just, uh, uh, you know, a tick a fraction of a percent will actually give you more revenue than having like, you know, 10 x in your traffic on the website.

BR: Right? It’s just because they’re so long and so much fallout to bring, you know, um, if you all of a sudden have, you know, 20, 30% more traffic, the percentage of that traffic, it gets all the way down, it’s just going to be, um, it’s not going to have the same effect as tweaking the sales. So kind of pushing in on that. But since we all focus on marketing, um, I’m gonna kind of take us back up a notch in the funnel as well. And so let’s talk about, again, it will kind of close out with this maybe is some really specific tactical ways to, to kind of look at what I have and what I’m going to use. And for me, uh, it is sort of funnel based, um, all the way and up to the point of generating a lead. Um, you kind of were already deeper, I would say, you know, somebody, uh, you might even argue somebody that’s already on that sales demo is probably a lead or even falls into customer retention and you’re trying to expand the revenue.

BR: But if we’re all the way at the top, um, I always think of it platform, traffic and conversion, right? And I kind of break it down like that. So at the platform level, and I think this is something that we, we all run, you know, too fast through is making sure that your platform is affective and stable and sort of correctly configured. And that could be your website for sure. We’ve talked about that a lot. Like if your website is a, is a garbled mess of unbounce pages and you know, Drupal and custom html and Hubspot, which I’ve seen like all of these almost competing systems all sort of cobbled together because this person works with sales and they like hubspot because it gives them, you know, their salespeople a warm and fuzzy feeling about, you know, who’s coming to the website and stuff like that.

BR: And then this, you know, the, the, the it department like, you know, everything has to be on Drupal or has to be like custom done because that’s sophisticated or whatever. Um, and then somebody over here runs the email marketing list and there are, they got an instance of constant contact and they’re just like, just scrubbing people’s butt. So having kind of integrated platform, and I know you’ve had some experience with this too, but just making sure all that stuff’s working together so that you do truly, when you’re talking about your marketing platform, you have a tech stack that kind of gets you all the way through that funnel and insight. Any kind of thoughts and making sure that platform touches or it’s kind of cohesive.

MC: It’s a really, it’s about efficiency. I think you’re 100% right. So if you don’t have the tools and the tools aren’t working, you know, disparate or disconnected tech stack, right, it’s going to break down any number of different opportunities you have no matter where you are in the funnel from the top all the way down to the bottom to understand the quality of the leads you’re generating to, you know, to make sure that the money you’re spending to generate those leads is being spent wisely. And so I think it dovetails into like the third thing that I did and when I look back on it, you know, I’m like codify this into like an actual sort of repeatable approach to like getting a new job as a CMO or a marketing director. But is, is that exactly which is like understanding how efficient your operation is and efficiency doesn’t just mean, you know, it doesn’t just mean marketing spend, which I’ll talk about in just a second.

MC: But to your point, Vr, it means understanding that like you’re using the technology that’s there correctly, that it’s hooked up correctly. You’re tracking is like your analytics are actually giving you information that is actionable and accurate. Um, and yeah, and then bringing all those disparate parts of the organization together and also gives you a way as a CMO or a marketing directors that undoubtedly on your team, by the way, there’s some frustration with those tools. Every organization, right? It’s like not happy with their email solution or can’t do this thing that they want to do because you know, they’ve got the wrong piece of software in place or whatever else. And so eight an inventory and active inventory and understanding of the customer journey and how it works today and not from a messaging perspective, but to your point from a, from a technology perspective, understanding like, okay, they come to the website, they sign up for a piece of downloadable content and they go where?

MC: Okay. And then they follow up with what. And so like mapping out that journey and which pieces of technology or leopard where and where the gaps are is an awesome place to start. And then cleaning that up is, um, is another, you know, is the next logical conclusion there. And that takes time. And like, so you got to, you got to start those initiatives like very early and you can’t be the only thing you’re doing. I want to caution people against that like, but it’s got to be one of the first things that you do. I totally, I totally agree with that. I think, you know, I think one the problems when someone gets a new marketing director job or, or you know, or an agency gets a new client is that they’re really drawn to want to do like the next new thing. You know, like, Oh, I’m going to bring in this new strategy and it’s really going to kill it and whatever else.

MC: And if you don’t understand like you know what’s wrong with their, with their technology or what’s wrong with the current situation and you’re not looking for efficiencies and what they’re currently doing, then then you’re, you’re all again, setting yourself up to fail. I mean, the, the first thing I did, you know, the of the three things, right? Was like understand the marketplace again and then understand the resources that are available to us and what our tech stack was. It was just understanding where we were spending money and then finding the waste. Um, and variable, you’re going to want to try something new, right? That that new thing is going to cost money. It might be a new piece of software, it might be a new strategy, might be a new channel. It might be a new person. Like you might want to hire, you know, a content marketer or you know, whatever else.

MC: But if your first request is more money, when you come to your job, people are going to automatically look you as like suspect. So, so if, if that’s the case, then what should do instead is then go find the money that you need in the budget that they’re already spending. Because every single marketing budget is full of bloat, whether it’s tools that people aren’t using or channels that aren’t producing or whatever else. I mean, you know, I know that you remember are like the first thing I did at nutshell, like in my 90 days, it’s like I shut off Facebook and I saved us, you know, just something like 20 to 30 k a month. Uh, and was it, was it a little dicey? Yeah. Like cause it cut leads by 30% by the way. But in the end, because my hypothesis was correct, like it wasn’t affecting sales at all. And so now I’ve got 30% of the marketing budget that we were spending previously, then I get to spend on whatever I want. Um, and so, you know, I think finding efficiency, whether it’s in technology, whether it’s in spend or whatever else, is like the number three top first thing. I would do it in 90 days and nothing is going to make your boss or your client happier than being like, Hey, I can do what we’re doing now and be successful for the last cause

BR: there’s all these disparate activities and if they, they pulled you in, especially if it’s a new position, then they’re, they’re probably looking for you to, to kind of bring all their disparate, uh, marketing things into alignment and that’s always going to create some efficiencies and spots of waste. So you’d kind of talked about one of these areas. So once we kind of got the platform, I understand how that works and how everything’s integrated. We’ve got to go after traffic, um, or understand what traffic we have. Um, and so for me, um, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s only so many ways to generate traffic on the internet, but a lot of times we forget some of the most effective ways, obviously their search engines. Um, and that’s content and that kind of has two benefits, right? One, it’ll generate traffic. It’s a little bit of a long game.

BR: Um, but a lot of times, um, I’ve come in to organizations where they just don’t have enough and, and I think this is under appreciated. They simply don’t have enough content or the appropriate content to support their customers’ buying journey. Right? They just don’t like, hey, if I need to be able to build a, this is one we just recently did, like we were talking about a technology that’s a fairly significant investment and we didn’t have any contents of support them in building the business case. Right? Or even telling them how to build a business case for our particular type of technology. And this can hit you in different ways. If it’s, it’s something like CRM that’s been around forever. Well, maybe they can probably figure out how to do a business case for that, right? But if you’re bringing, you know, artificial intelligent or, or some emerging technology into your company that you’re going to need help trying to figure out how to formulate a, an argument, uh, into your tech community.

BR: Why, why this is like not bleeding edge, but like something you need to be moving on, right? So, um, so some of that, so content can just making sure you have the base, you can support the buyer’s journey. Um, and then of course, paid a quick, easy way, although some organizations don’t have the budgets to do that. Um, but one that’s always forgotten is that I guarantee you, you have emails floating around in your organization. Um, lots of them. I mean, and that’s something that a lot of people collect all these things or have the mechanisms to collect or acquire these lists. Um, but the, you know, we send emails all day long, but most organizations don’t know how to send emails to prospects, to customers, to prospective customers, to retain customers, uh, to continue to nurture customers. So emails almost, um, almost an easy kind of hidden when in most organizations because we all think we know email because we sent out a hundred emails every day. Um, but to put that together in a strategy that, um, makes money while you sleep, most people don’t know how to do that.

MC: That’s a, it’s a, it’s a more challenging thing to do. But I think that again, you know, there’s, when you come into a new organization, just like you said, you know, you gotta be on the, you’re a treasure hunter. You know, like that’s, you know, that’s your first 90 days. Your first 90 days is not to be captain Kirk. Right? We’re not, we’re not going to new worlds that people who have never gone to you before. We’re not, that’s not, that’s not your objective in the first 90 days. You’re, you are, you know, your Indiana Jones, in those first 90 days, your, your sole job should be to like poke around the organization. You know, all, you know, your platform, your traffic, I mean, all the things that are available to you that are right in front of you. And then mine them for opportunities to create optimization.

MC: Um, and then as you do that, by the way, cause like you’re going to learn more about everything, right, about, about the politics of your organization, about the condition of your marketplace, about your company’s position within it, about your team, about their strengths and weaknesses and all that kind of stuff. And out of that will then emerge like an actual actionable strategy, right? Something that you can execute well and that will deliver the type of results that your new boss or your, you know, your new client is going to get excited about. Um, so yeah, the last thing I remember is like, just don’t come in all cowboy. Like don’t do that. Like if you come in, you know, guns a blazing, um, you’re going to crash and burn pretty quickly. I mean, maybe you’re a mad scientist genius, you know what I mean? And I’m not, I don’t know.

MC: That’s a possibility. And you can come in and you’re Sean Ellis and you can like flip around the organization in 90 days. And you know, if that’s the case then you should come on the podcast by the way. And tell me how you do it cause I would love to, to hear about it. But yeah, you’re a treasure hunter. You’ve got to find the, find the little gems that are sitting around, um, and do that, uh, and don’t yet, do not blow up the spot. Do not, do not fundamentally change. Kind of close out for that cause you kind of covered it

BR: conversion bit when you were kind of talking about that. But you know, to, to the kind of offhanded comments you made about like, unless you’re, you know, Sean Ellis, but people are make careers off of there one hockey stick moment. So the other thing that’s probably really important in, in the 90 days sort of cycle is to set those expectations, you know, with whoever your boss is and even in your own sort of, um, your own mind positioning is that, um, you know, those stories make great stories, right? Because they are Unicorns, they are different. They are unique. Um, but, but even the best growth, you know, marketers are not hitting hockey stick after hockey, stick after hockey stick. They’re building. Um, just like we build businesses, nice steady, reoccurring revenue. Right. Um, and so they’re building, um, you know, high quality, sustainable growing, um, uh, you know, at a, at a, uh, a good pace, sort of marketing programs, uh, that one little growth hack that, you know, hockey, sticked, you know, your users.

BR: Um, that’s that, that shouldn’t be your, your base case. Right? And that shouldn’t be something that you expect every 90 days. That’s because, um, you know, a whole bunch of things came together and hit at the right moment. So, uh, to make that happen and then you make a career off and you write books and, you know, maybe start a company or something like that, but, uh, but you use that story over and over again. Right. I look at some of these guys, especially the whole, I think that’s why the growth hacker thing Kinda Kinda pittered out a little bit because you know, um, just like a lot of, you know, pro athletes, they go through a phase and a moment and um, and then it’s kind of a one hit wonder usually. So, um, and that’s, yeah,

MC: well dude, like product fit too, right? So like I’m a Sean Ellis and I have his book hacking growth sitting on my desk right now and I’m reading it and it is good. And like I’m interested to learn about things that he’s done and he’s done actually more things. And I even recognized like, so you can tell that the man, you know, it has a unique perspective on digital marketing. However I, Oh, you know, you always talk about this, it’s like, so his claim to fame is like Dropbox claim to, it’s like, okay. I mean, so it was amazing what he did Dropbox and you kind of goes into more detail in this book and it’s interesting to kind of like learn how he decided to test what, and like w when he decided to test or whatever else. But you’re also dealing with Dropbox, right?

MC: You’re dealing with one of the very first, you know, there was a handful of them, but one of the very first cloud storage providers in the marketplace. So like, okay, I mean, so they’re disrupting a behavior and then so it becomes very easy for them to do that. It’s like the, you know, the example I always use when I go to conferences and like, you know, I’m not disparaging this person, I’m just going to use as an example. But you go to a conference and you’re, let’s say you’re talking about social media and you know, the headliner for the conference is like the social media director of coke. Like, okay, or Mustang it forward or whatever. Like that’s not impressive to me in the sense that whatever they did before to get there is more impressive to me. But if you’re coke or a Ford Mustang and you tweet out a picture of a can of coke or a Mustang, automatically 100,000 people and you’re like, oh, I love it, share it.

MC: You know, because they have brand affinity and everything else, that’s not impressive to me. What’s impressive to me, and you guys out there in podcast land should think about it like this, is if, if you can take a Facebook page from like zero to 2000 likes, that’s impressive to me, right? If you can create audience where there was none before, if you can, if you can blow up a local lawn care company to the point where they ask you to stop sending them leads because it’s breaking their business, that’s impressive to me, right? It’s like creating something from nothing. So your point about expectations, Vr, I think is like, it’s super important. Like you’re not going to come into the first 90 days more than likely and like fundamentally changed the trajectory of the company. So don’t expect to do so and, and, and align yourself accordingly. Like, okay, what do the, I think that’s a super important thing to do that. And then maybe you and I are crazy. Maybe we’re just too modest or I don’t know. Like I just don’t the, these, these, like you said, these hockey stick events or just three Unicorns, man, they just in so many things have to happen. It’s like when people would come to us with the agents and say, make us a viral thing. Okay. I mean, I’ll try, you know, that’s like saying Mc Lyte things trend.

BR: We kind of add to that because we say it all the time and it’s probably bears mentioning, especially if you’re interviewing to take a job and you want to be successful in your first 90 days, you cannot market your way out of a bad product. So spend a little time to make sure that you’re really convinced, uh, that, that your new company has an awesome product that you can, you can build a brand around, you could build, um, you know, the, the right, uh, revenue around. So that’s, that’s super. And the marketing around that. So that’s super critical. Um, okay, we’re going to close one out. Um, and uh, as always, leave comments, give us thumbs up, stars, all those sorts of things. Uh, like a sun on iTunes so you can get more of these. And if you’ve got comments, feedback, or just things you want to hear about a hero’s talk more about, uh, we’d love to, to, to know about it. Have a conversation with you guys. So, uh, tell next time we’re out of here. Mike, make the logo bigger.

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Get the Lay of the Land

Ask yourself this question: “why am I here?”

Why were you hired at this particular point in time for this client or company? What do they want you to do? What is their current marketing and reputation situation? Why did they replace the old marketing director or CMO with you?

Do they need more leads? Do they need help overcoming a crisis? Are they a new company getting their marketing off the ground? Are they transitioning from outsourcing to in-house marketing?

Don’t underestimate the political aspects of becoming the new marketing director, either.

Are people upset that the old director was fired or left the company? How can you get your co-workers to trust your judgment and expertise? Are you going to ruffle some feathers if you change protocols or the way things are going to work?

Who do you report to and who holds the true power to get things done? Which relationships do you need to form within the company in order to be successful? What’s your team dynamic like?

As you can see, this section is giving you a lot more to think about as opposed to giving you specific instructions on what to do. But that’s purposeful. Each situation, each client, and each marketing director position is going to be different depending on the answers to the above questions.

And answering these general questions and truly understanding the lay of the land and the “features of the battlefield,” so to speak, will help make the rest of your objectives and tactics easier as you begin your first 90 days of work.

Where Does the Revenue Happen?

Now that you have a general understanding of the ground that you’re now standing on, it’s time to delve a bit deeper into the specifics.

No matter what kind of company you’re working for, you’re looking to generate revenue. Whether you’re selling a cleaning service, creating biotechnology equipment, or offer law services, you are (hopefully) generating revenue.

Ask yourself some more questions. Is there a sales department that is the main revenue source? Or is revenue purely e-commerce? Do you have a brick and mortar store?

As a marketing director, you need a very clear understanding of where that revenue comes from so you can do your job to augment that.

You need to link yourself with whoever is in charge of generating that revenue. Even if it isn’t your specific job, you’re going to be on the hook for making those salespeople or that website look good and work to the best of their ability.

What Do You Have to Work with?

Unless you’re entering a start-up organization with no prior marketing plan, chances are there are things already in place for you to work with including a marketing team, marketing strategies, technology, etc.


One of your biggest tools at your disposal is your team. Get to know the people who will be working with you. What are their strengths? Weaknesses? Do you need to hire someone new?

Without good relationships with your team, and the organization as a whole, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting anything done.


What tech do you have? A website? A blog? What kind of CRM do they have in place (if they have one)? Do you have social media accounts for your brand?

Marketing Platform

What does the company see as its marketing platform? Have they been focused on web marketing? Email? Content? Traditional marketing strategies?

There are likely marketing strategies already in place from before you got there; understand what those platforms and strategies are so you can know what’s already going on and how you can change or expand those strategies.

Find Out What Is and What Isn’t Working

This goes right off of the previous sections. You want a full understanding of what you’re getting into before you truly “start” on anything. Look before you leap, right?

Speak with your marketing team, your bosses, the sales team, etc, and get perspectives on what is and isn’t working according to them.

How do your bosses and the people in charge of you define success?

In a sense, it doesn’t matter if you agree with that definition or with their opinions, at least not in the first 90 days of work. After this initial period, you can take the time to convince them of your point of view if you still think that’s necessary.

But as you begin your work in this new position, you need to show them that you’re listening to them and that you’re taking actionable steps to work towards what they see as success.

Be Quick

All that being said, you need to get these first few sections done quickly. You can’t spend 90 days on these topics. The first couple of weeks can be spent asking these questions and getting the lay of the land.

But the best marketing directors and CMOs are going to be great at assessing situations, boiling those situations down to simple facts, being able to work through all the various politics/personalities, and knowledge assets they have available very quickly.

Assume They’re Doing the Right Thing

You can give yourself a bit of credit: you’re obviously good at what you do if you’ve gotten hired for this new position. But, you’re also the new kid.

There’s nothing more frustrating to workers or clients than a fresh new guy coming in and changing everything and saying they know better. Because, in a way, you don’t know better. Just because you’re good at your job doesn’t mean you know the company better than workers who have been there long before you showed up.

Go into this new position with the mindset that they’re doing things right. From there, you can identify which strategies and tactics specifically are working well.

Once you do that, you can then move on to areas that need improvement, and align those new strategies with the definition of success that you discovered earlier.

Understand the Marketplace

No matter how much experience or knowledge you might have as a query-based keyword guru, it’s not going to do anything for a marketplace that depends on brand recognition and branded searches to drive traffic and search results.

Getting an understanding of exactly how traffic and leads are driven within your company’s industry is going to be crucial for outlining strategies that will go past your first 90 days.

Let’s look at an example.

You’re the new marketing director for a small automated email marketing service. If you didn’t take the time to understand the marketplace, then you might immediately look to launch a marketing campaign driven by query-based keywords like “email marketing software” or “automated email service”.

But, you would soon discover that these keywords only get a few thousand searches each month, which means your first strategy as marketing director would almost surely be a failure.

Most email marketing service searches are branded searches for top name, recognizable brands. If you had taken the time to learn that before launching a campaign, then you would’ve been able to start your first 90 days with a different strategy that wasn’t doomed for failure.

So don’t be afraid to learn about your new company’s process/market and hone your strategy to fit that company. In the above example, perhaps focusing on lead conversion would’ve yielded better and quicker results.

Quick Wins Make an Impression

While we’re on the topic of better and quicker results, you want to use the information you gain from all of these previous sections to get some results within the first 90 days. Again, this will be largely dependent on your company’s goals, your industry, and the info you uncover during your first few weeks.

You want to identify a project or goal that will give you a “quick win” within that 90-day window. This could be working on conversion, generating leads, streamlining content creation to drive traffic, etc.

Anything you can pinpoint that can be achieved quickly along with quantifiable results is going to leave an impression on the company. It’s impressive to come in and make actionable and noticeable changes in 90 days, which will increase trust in you as the new marketing director.

From there, people are going to have faith in your ideas and vision, which can lead to changing strategies more easily, updating campaigns, and creating a happy and healthy work environment.

Some Specific Tactics

This is all well and good, but you probably are wanting some specific tactics, right? Well, we’re going to break it down into a couple of components that will work for any company you’re working for.


Make sure that your platform is effective, stable, and correctly configured. This means you have a functioning website, cohesive technology tools, organized customer/business information, etc.

90 days isn’t a lot of time, so now more than ever it’s all about efficiency.

If you don’t have the tools or those tools aren’t working, it’s going to break down any number of different opportunities you have no matter where you are in the funnel. From understanding the quality of your leads to getting accurate analytic information to making sure money is spent wisely, you need a functioning, organized, and efficient platform.

Finding the gaps and issues in your tech and cleaning those things up is an awesome place to start as a marketing director.

Traffic and Conversion

Now that you’ve tackled the base of your work with the platform, move on to traffic/conversion. You want to understand the traffic you’re getting now and improve upon that traffic as well.

A lot of times companies forget some of the most effective ways to generate traffic and convert leads, so use your fresh eyes to identify those things and improve.

Think about how you can improve upon content they already have as well as creating new content to align with your “quick win” and your long-term strategies.

We also recommend taking advantage of emails. You definitely have emails floating around your company, but chances are they’ve fallen by the wayside. This is a great starting point, by building an email-driven referral marketing system for your business.

Don’t forget that email is 40% more effective at generating new sales than both Twitter and Facebook?

Spend your first 90 acting as a marketing detective: learn about your organization, analyze how you can use those things you uncover (like the email example we just used) to your advantage to get quick wins, and set up long term goals.

Uncover tech and traffic tactics and use those opportunities to create optimization and conversion.

Ready for Your First 90 Days as Marketing Director?

One of the big problems, when someone gets a new marketing director job, is they want to instantly introduce the “next new thing” or a brand new strategy. But as you can see from this article, that’s usually not going to work for you.

If you don’t understand the current company strategies, the people you’re working with, the marketplace as it stands, the current tech, the inefficiencies present, etc, then you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Focus on analyzing and understanding your new workplace and use that info to craft a quick win to crush your first 90 days as marketing director. From there, you’ll have gained insight and trust to move forward with larger goals and strategies in the future.

Looking for more marketing planning strategies? Listen to our podcast episode on this topic.

Need some more advice? Check out one of our podcast episodes about the latest and greatest website strategies to use in 2019 in your new position as marketing director.

If you have about 30 minutes, listen to Mike Carroll, Head of Growth at Nutshell (a SaaS CRM), and myself, Bill Rice, Founder/CEO of Kaleidico a digital agency focused on lead generation discuss our approach to this 90-day marketing challenge.

If you’ve already started, let’s cut to the chase.

It doesn’t take long for the excitement of that new job or promotion to wear off, now you’re starting to get a bit worried.

Your CEO or counterpart Sales Director is asking for the revenue and sales leads they hired you for.

We don’t want to start like that, instead, let’s work on smashing it within your first 3 months as a new marketing director or CMO. Let’s come in hot with actionable plans to get great marketing results immediately as well as an intentional plan to network and build relationships in your new position.

Easier said than done, though, right? We’re going to make it that much easier for you by going over exactly what you need to do to crush your first 90 days as a new marketing director.

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About Bill Rice
Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico. Bill is an expert in designing online lead generation strategies and programs. Kaleidico blends web design, development, SEO, PPC, content marketing, and email marketing to generate leads for mortgage lenders, law firms, fintech, and other businesses looking to grow a consumer-direct online strategy.

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