A CMO’s Vision:  Telling the story of “WE”

Marketing team

February 26, 2019 | by Olivia Roehm, Account Executive

Tribalism has always been a part of the marketing story, and every tribe needs a leader. The job of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), is not just to lead the followers of the brand, but to lead the tribe of employees.

How can the CMO cast their vision?

A vision is an “aspirational description of what the organization would like to achieve or accomplish.” A thriving team is one who has a clear vision and clear direction in achieving it. A CMO needs to do more than simply distribute memos with the vision statement; a vision becomes alive when developed and nurtured by the whole team, when a whole team takes ownership.

How does a CMO achieve this?

3 Steps to Providing a Clear Picture

Leaders cannot predict the future, but what they can do is provide a clear picture of positive growth strategy for the company. They need to have the courage to imagine what could be, and then get their team on board to execute on that vision. This sometimes means taking risks with delegating efforts and trusting the advice of their team.

Marshal Ganz, a Harvard professor known for lecturing and collaborating on public policy, created the simple 3 step-narrative which can help the CMO tell the story of “WE”.

  • The story of self
  • The story of us
  • The story of now

The Story of Self

This is the CMO’s opportunity to let the marketing team know that he or she is one of them. In the end, every company is made up of humans working together – more people leave their jobs because of their bosses’ leadership styles than their feelings on the company vision. The CMO should share their personal values that will direct their leadership style, so the team will know what to expect in different situations. They should share their strengths and weaknesses with the team, and ask for assistance in making the vision a reality for the company. If this means doing personality tests in the office for a fun exercise of understanding how each team member deals with stress, do it! The story of self is meant to humanize the leader; a leader should show confidence in sharing with the team, building that trust which is a foundation for any successful company.

The Story of Us

The story of us allows the CMO to further develop on their vision by establishing that the vision belongs to all of us. When an organization and marketing team think of themselves as one cohesive unit, the story of us is born. The best way to do this is to give ownership of the vision over; yes, give direction where needed, make final decisions when team members can’t agree, and delegate – but offer opportunities where they can talk about how you are achieving or not achieving the vision with your marketing initiatives. Always make it a focus. The story of us means the mindset shifts from working forsomeone to working with someone.

The Story of Now

This is the final piece of the puzzle. This is the day-to-day work, building on that trust and collaborative mindset.

The culture is changing fast, and marketing trends are part of the culture. The CMO would be foolish not to consider and empower the beliefs, strengths, experience and knowledge of the whole marketing team. Long-term growth doesn’t just mean your company changes and grows, but that your employees do. You must be considerate to the changing lives of your employees and train them to be better. This continues to build that trust foundation.

Leave the Ego at the door. Forget about credit. It’s natural for leaders to want credit – humility does not come easily. In order to inspire, motivate, and get consistent quality out of their team, a CMO must acknowledge and give credit where it is due. The day-to-day is where they should see the talents and growth of their team members and give them opportunities to contribute as they arise.

Living the Vision

Seth Godin, a popular Marketing author, discusses in, This is Marketing, that in order for an organization to improvise, adapt and overcome, the vision needs to be, “together we can make this better.” A CMO must accept that the employees will need to challenge and create conflict to address ways to better serve the vision of the company. Building a loyal tribe of company customers means focusing on how the internal tribe is doing. The CMO must humanize themselves, confidently deliver the expectations for the vision, and then give power to the team to live the vision.

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