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Your first 100 days as a CMO are critical
to long term success

CMOs are one of the most crucial functions in a company, yet according to a recent article by the WSJ they have the shortest lifespan in the C Suite. On average, just 41 months compared to 71 for other roles. Why is that?

Quite often, marketing has a higher budget for expenditures paving the way for long-term sales success but are not bringing in money now! Marketing has to balance long term strategy with agile reactions, immediate results and constantly changing priorities.

Much like political leaders, the first 100 days as a CMO are crucial and set the tone for your “term” in the role. When hiring a CMO, a company wants to know that they hired someone who is capable of getting sh*t done with the confidence to hit the ground running, making necessary decisions and not just observing for the first 6 months. 

Whether it is your first term as CMO or not, there is no replacement for starting with a solid action plan from before Day One to achieve results right off the bat. 

Here is a blueprint for a successful first 100 Days as CMO.

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Getting Started

Days 1- 15


Know your Business Goals

This kind of goes without saying, but make sure you understand, in-depth, the company's business goals for the next 6/12/24 months. This is the very first step because if you do not know what you are working towards, you can't set the right marketing objectives and benchmarks.

Every company has different business goals, and while “Sell a lot” might be an overlying theme, it’s up to you to determine the best way to bring leads that will create those sales.


Know your Team

If you’re a CMO, chances are that you have a team and your company has outgrown the one-person marketing show.

Your team is your strongest asset, and getting them aligned to your vision and working towards a common goal is the single most important act you can do. Meet with each team member individually and get to know them; What is their role, what are their likes and dislikes in their current position, where do they see the department’s strengths and weaknesses and what can they suggest for improvement.

Kim Scott writes in her book “Radical Candor” that people fall into 2 categories, Rocks and Shooting Stars. The Rocks are stable, happy where they are, and want to keep doing what they do. The Shooting Stars are eager to grow within the company and take on more responsibility and prove they can do more. Determine what each employee's goals are and build a plan to keep them moving in the right direction.


Align with the Sales Team

Marketing and Sales alignment is critical to success. The marketing and sales relationship sometimes referred to as SMarketing, has traditionally come down to one of two scenarios. Profits are up and everyone is happy OR goals aren’t met and the blame game begins: Marketing is accused of supplying bad leads, and Sales are accused of not converting quality leads.

In order to be successful, Sales and Marketing need to understand that they are on the same team and embrace collaboration. This will align their interests and help them work towards the company’s goals. This means sales must provide feedback on what customers respond to; What questions are prospects asking, which prospects closed and which didn’t. Based on that information, Marketing needs to adjust the buyer personas, hone the messaging to target those needs and create the right content that will draw in the right prospects.

Hubspot has a great resource for Aligning marketing and sales teams

Once you are aligned, you need to make sure your CRMs are also. Your new company may have a RevOps department or more likely it’s something you and the head of sales will need to work on together. Make sure that not only your teams communicate, but also your platforms.

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Develop Relationships

Days 10 - 30


Establish Relationships

Just as your marketing department is your team, your vendors are your support group. They are your partners and choosing the right ones can make the difference between success and failure. A good vendor can act as part of the team and bring you true value for less than an in-house employee. Having said that, a vendor is still an outsourced position, so relying on them to get the job done no matter what is sometimes beyond your control.

Have a candid conversation with each vendor. They have been providing your company services, so take the time to understand what value they bring. Just like with your employees, make sure to get an idea of what the relationship is like, what they think is working and what isn’t. Where they think there is room to improve the relationship. Do they consider you a good client and why? Make sure you cover all the points you need to make an informed decision on the future of your relationship with this vendor.

Make a copy of this vendor relationships map to use for your own audit


Meet the Business Development & Partnerships Teams

This is an important step to see what the partnership team can bring to the table. While sales teams usually own the relationships with distributors, resellers and channels, knowing what you have in place and what the team is capable of can be hugely beneficial.

Knowing you have a good relationship with another company can open up the door for joint marketing activities, referrals and partnerships. When exploring the channel's partnerships it might be more beneficial for you to give each partner a budget to run hyper-local campaigns as opposed to trying to manage global ones in-house.


Quick Wins

As a CMO, you were brought in to hit the ground running. When it comes to marketing in particular, decisions need to be made quickly as things can change fast, and speed is crucial. You need to show that you are decisive and can explain those decisions. By the 2 week mark you should have enough information to make a few changes with a focus on quick wins. These quick wins will set the tone for your term. By establishing a successful track record from the start, when the bigger more complicated decisions come along, you’ll already have built trust after having already proven yourself.

Here is a template with a few quick wins or add your own, then use the calculator to prioritize

Make a copy of the spreadsheet and make the changes.

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DAYS 25-60


Social Media Goals

Conducting a social media audit seems like a simple task, but it can get very complicated. It’s not just a matter of looking at the last few posts. You need to compare where your company is, where your audience is and what role does social media play in the grand scheme of branding, lead generation and customer success. Some questions to investigate include:

  • What channels are we on and how often are we posting?
  • Is our audience there?
  • Are company leaders active on those networks?
  • What is the goal for each social media channel? What results have they yielded?
  • How do we compare to our competitors? Do we have enough of the right followers? Is there engagement?

Human Resources

In week 1 you met your team and had 1-1 sit downs with each of them. You understood who does what, who does it well and what each one wants to do. In this stage you need to assess how they fit into the bigger picture. While the goal is not to run a sweatshop, you do want to make sure that each employee is productive and contributes positively to the overall efforts and bottom line. Make sure that each member is pulling their weight, and while some overlap can be beneficial you don’t want too much redundancy.

This is also the time to evaluate what gaps you have in your team and how you plan on filling them.

How to hire a marketer (blog)

How to hire a marketer podcast


Funnel Analysis

In order to set up your marketing activities and your automation, it’s important to understand how buying decisions are made on your buyers side. This means mapping out the different types of clients, and who the buyers, influencers and decision makers are in those companies. Mapping out the process will help you focus your marketing efforts towards the right channels. It will also ensure you are prepared with marketing collateral not only for lead generation, but also for your salespeople and customer success team throughout the entire lifecycle of a customer. This analysis is usually done in very close conjunction with each team and more than a funnel, it is a continuously spinning flywheel powered by your marketing collateral.


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DAYS 30-35


Present the Management Team with your Quick Wins Workplan

By now you’ve formed relationships and established yourself as a leader. While you probably need more information to make major decisions, you’ve probably noticed a few smaller things that can make a difference. This is the time to get some quick wins.

Map out what you already know needs to get done, how much of your resources it will take, and what has a high-value return for the most relevant stakeholders. Decide on a small number of things you and your team can complete quickly and guarantee success, establishing yourself as a game changer.

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Conduct Audits

Days 40-75


SEO Audit

Inbound traffic is the best way to get quality leads. The kind of people who came looking for what you have to say, meaning they are looking for your product. They are genuinely interested in your content and are reading it. You need to take a long, hard look at your SEO strategy and see if the keywords in your content align with the keywords your audience is searching when looking for a product like yours. Check if enough organic traffic is coming from these keywords and if not, why.
Check out this SEO checklist for B2B CMOs




Conduct a marketing budget audit. Where are you spending money? Budgeting is something that can make or break your marketing efforts. Knowing your budget will help you plan out your quarterly and annual spend and divide it between staff, vendors, travel and other expenses. Proper planning will help you prioritize your spending and pace yourself throughout the year. 

Watch these sessions on budget planning and use this 12-Month Marketing Budget Template


Digital Marketing Audit

This is where you need to do a deep dive into the department's activities. As part of your personal discovery process, you need to evaluate if the efforts have been invested in the right place. Do the marketing activities align with the overlying strategy? Looking at past campaigns’ execution and results can greatly contribute to your strategy. Both successes and failures must be investigated and analyzed to help guide your planning going forward.


Social Media Audit

While social media is a part of digital marketing, it is a significant enough part that it deserves its own category. There are a few reasons why social media is critical. Unlike blogs where you publish content and see downloads or maybe get a comment, on social media you can communicate in real conversations with a large audience and individuals. Social media channels are expected to be responsive so your channels need to be monitored constantly, and messages/comments require a quick response, sometimes in even hours or minutes. Here is an example of how Oreo responded to the Super Bowl blackout with a tweet within 3 minutes. The timing and message were so relevant, that tweet alone generated over $1M worth of marketing activity. by

Oreo Dunk in the Dark campaign by Leo Morejon

Here is a guide to help you perform a social media audit by Sprout Social


Technology Inventory

Having the right marketing tech stack, and using it efficiently is priceless. It will let you automate processes, gain insights and gather more data than you can realistically process. However, technology comes at a price, and in many cases, there are unnecessary subscriptions, overpriced software, and even best of breed SaaS products that are overkill. Sometimes a single provider can be a better option than a hodgepodge of best of breeds (Read the Hubspot White paper). Maybe you DO need the enterprise tier license, but in many cases the standard tier will be enough. Eliminating unused subscriptions or scaling them down to what you really need can put a lot of money back into your budget.

HubSpot’s guide to conducting a tech Stack Audit

Always keep in mind the number one rule in RevOps: No team is an island and all softwares across the company must communicate seamlessly especially with your partners in sales and customer success.

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Formulate Plans

DAYS 60-100


Define the Buyer Persona

This is possibly the single most important marketing activity you'll do. Unless you know WHO you are talking to, it's impossible to create the right messaging, find the right channels or create the right content that will resonate with your audience. Whether you're using inbound or outbound marketing, you need to speak to your prospects in a way they will want to listen to.

Defining your Ideal buyer persona guide


Content Plan

Creating a high level content plan will help guide you in terms of what to write and in general help you stay on track with your messaging. While the content plan does not need to include titles of each piece for the year, having it in place will help you come up with topics easily that are relevant to your underlying marketing strategy.

Check out this webinar on creating content that both humans and search engines will love!

Check out this podcast to build a powerful content marketing strategy


Marketing Plan

This is where you take the business goals management shared with you and translate them into a roadmap with milestones and action items. By giving each action item and milestone an owner and a timeline you make a plan for each goal. Marketing is full of shiny objects, and having a plan will help you stay focused on campaigns that will move the needle forward.
Here is HubSpot’s Guide to Making a Marketing Plan

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