Best Practices in HR
Follow Us:
Bill Lee
  September 19, 2016

The Secret: How To Convert a Skeptical CMO Into an Evangelist

So you’ve got a new CMO. It’s time to present your program to him, which you start doing in the usual way, running through your program PPT deck. You show him all the cool things your customer advocacy program has accomplished, and what you’re planning for the future. And at some point you realize, the new executive is bored by it all, doesn’t really get the whole point of “customer advocacy,” and doesn’t have a clue why he should care. Awkward!

That’s precisely what happened to Kim Ellis, who runs the customer advocacy program at BMC Software. The new CMO came from a consumer products firm and was brought in to dramatically update BMC’s somewhat stodgy image. He wasn’t interested in customer advocacy in the slightest.

Many folks would fold their tent at this point. But that’s a huge mistake. It’s at moments like that you should ask yourself, “Do I really believe that the customer advocates I cultivate and work with are the most valuable resource our company has?” (And you should believe that!) If so, then go to work proving it to your skeptical executive stakeholder.

That’s what Kim resolved to do.Eventually her new CMO not only saw the value of customer advocacy, he couldn’t live without it, her budget was “off the table,” and he now wants Kim and her team heavily involved is a variety of marketing efforts.

You can do this too with a skeptical CMO or other skeptical stakeholders. Here’s the “secret:”

Focus on your new CMO’s agenda.

That’s it. Understand her agenda. Attend her meetings. And have faith that your customer advocates can mightily contribute to it. Because it’s highly likely that they can.

The CMO’s Agenda
Prior to his arrival, Kim was primarily concerned with the impact of her advocacy program on revenue. But the new CMO was focused on improving and modernizing BMC’s image. OK, so she focused on that.

Example 1: If the CMO raised a specific question about BMC’s current image in the marketplace, she would immediately poll her advocates and send the results to him. No waiting to form focus groups or commission an expensive study. Kim could say, “Here’s what our  leading customers think about this.” He loved it.

Example 2: At one point the CMO concluded they needed a new advertising campaign. “What will work for our existing base,” he asked? Kim contacted her advocates with the proposed campaigns, asking them, Which one do you like best and why? What does the ad mean to you?” Response rates were quite good–people in general like to provide feedback and opinions, and advocates are no different. The CMO loved it–and Kim helped save significant sums of money he had planned to spend on an advertising agency to do the research.

Example 3: The CMO was working on renaming a product and after much deliberation, he and his team had narrowed the choices down to two. They found it very hard to pick one, so Kim worked her magic with her advocates. Using Influitive challenges, she got an incredible 50% response rate–within 24 hours. The advocates came down 80% to 20% in favor of one of the choices. The CMO loved it (and of course picked their choice).

Example 4: Don’t think that it’s just marketing and sales whom you can help. Kim stepped into an issue the IT department was facing. They needed to dramatically reduce the cost of one component of one of BMC’s platforms, and to do this they needed 25 customers to fill out an extensive survey. Kim got her advocates to do so quickly. Her CIO told her, “You’ve saved us $700,000.”

Alert readers will note that Kim and her team has  extraordinary relationships with their customer advocates. This is not accident: they work hard to cultivate warm, personal relationships with them, an aspect of her program–and the programs of other firms that we’ll be describing in our forthcoming Advanced Practices research study. Stay tuned for that. It’s coming out this Summer.
Source: Bill Lee