2006 was a tough time to be a CMO, research by search firm Spencer Stuart reported average time in a CMO position was a ridiculously short 23.2 months. Things have improved since then, despite their newest research showing a slight drop to 44 months from the 2014-2015 48-month average. Today, it’s a much rosier story than 2006, but 44 months is still not a long time. Given the numbers, it’s likely as a marketing leader you’ll be stepping into new roles with some regularity so it makes sense to have a plan for how to approach those crucial first 100 days.
Most of us begin a new job brimming with enthusiasm, excited about the role, the company and the job we’ve been hired to do. Part of that new job energy is typically directed to figuring out how to deliver some quick wins, to put points on the board and make an early impact. The first 100 days as a marketing leader are critical but require a level of finesse and a balanced approach so your initial energy can create positive momentum.
Ready, fire, aim – One of the most common mistakes marketing leaders make when taking the reins at a new company is not investing the time to do a detailed assessment of the current state of the marketing organization. What skills and capabilities exist within the marketing team? What programs are working well, which programs are not performing and why? How healthy are the working relationships with other internal organizations and with agencies and marketing partners? Answering these and a myriad of other questions is essential so you can understand the current dynamics before doing anything too bold.
It’s not about you – As a marketing leader, you are in a leadership role, which means your priority should be making the team successful, not putting yourself in the spotlight. Leverage the talents of the team, provide them with new opportunities to shine.
Lay down a foundation – Quick-hit programs can, and should, pave the way for the future. Short-term projects may be pilot programs with the potential to scale if effective or may feature experiments with new partners or technologies. Effective marketing leaders approach even short-term project with an eye to the future.
You don’t have all the answers – Yes, you were hired based on your amazing skills and experience, but every situation is unique and there is always something to learn. Try to suspend your own biases and preconceived notions of things when stepping into a new role. An open mind is as important as expertise when starting anew.
Getting off to a strong start is extremely important for new marketing leaders, but the process needs to be approached with humility, balance, and forethought. Don’t dial down the energy, but apply it wisely.