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Blog / Here’s How New CMOs Can Create Brand Momentum by Taking a Pause

Here’s How New CMOs Can Create Brand Momentum by Taking a Pause

Stepping into the role of a new CMO in a marketing company presents its fair share of challenges. The first challenge? Getting a solid grasp on the company's culture, goals, and target market.

Balancing established strategies with fresh, innovative ideas while building trust and credibility among the team can be daunting. On top of this, a new CMO has to adapt to the rapidly evolving digital landscape while managing budget constraints and effectively navigating internal politics. So, who wants to be a CMO?

In this episode of The Undiscovered Metric, we speak with Tamsin James, the new and first CMO at MSQ Partners, a next-gen group of creative, media, tech, and data agencies. In her 18 years in marketing and media, Tamsin has worked for some of the UK’s most respected creative and media agencies, including Maxus and Wavemaker.

As a CMO in a brand-new role, Tamsin faces the usual rigors of a new job. However, with only 54% of CMOs strongly agreeing that the value of marketing is understood by key decision-makers, CMOs can face an uphill struggle from the get-go. 

 

Read on to find out how Tamsin is tackling these challenges, or watch the full episode here!
 
 

Hitting the ground running

“Agency marketing business development hasn't always been seen as a specialist area of the business in the same way that account management is or strategy and planning. It's an area of the business people tend to move into from other paths, and perhaps not necessarily understanding the complexities involved,” says Tamsin. “I genuinely believe that agency marketing is a specialist skill and an art form in its own right. Part of that is being able to work with lots of experts across marketing and being comfortable with letting them be the expert at that moment and working in partnership.”

It might not all come down to bottom-line, but with marketing especially, the return on investment can be challenging to precisely attribute. So, how has Tamsin overcome the idea that her team’s efforts are far more difficult to quantify when compared to something like direct sales?

“Marketing in agencies is still seen as revenue spending and not necessarily generating. So, our teams are lean, and our budgets are small. It's a case of figuring out how to run and measure a marketing operation in ways that are the most efficient and spend the least amount of budget. In a previous life, my department has been referred to as the 'coloring in' department. It's funny, and we all laugh, but how do you really demonstrate the seriousness of what we are doing for the wider business?”

She continues, “We're a really fast-growing group, and when you grow fast, you don't necessarily grow evenly. So, coming in, what I'm looking at are the gaps and the opportunities. That's the challenge that I've had, to identify what those gaps are and how we can fill them in the quickest and most efficient way.”

 

scaling a fast-growing digital agency Fast-growing agencies don't always grow evenly - taking a step back to identify gaps and opportunities is important.
 
 

The role of the CMO is complex and constantly changing to meet the needs of an unpredictable market. This need to juggle multiple responsibilities means they’re “required to be experts in technology, people management, and finance and operations.” With their diverse to-do list, the CMO plays a critical role in driving a company's growth and success. How is Tamsin coping with all this millinery?

“There are days where I need to be our biggest cheerleader. I need to be shouting about how creative we are, really stepping in front of the work, and being really fun and outward. Then there are other days where I need to remind people of GDPR and balance being the cheerleader and the fun police at the same time,” she laughs. “It's a constant balance and recalibration of energy.”

Simplify to amplify

Of course, metrics are crucial for any marketing company to track performance, measure effectiveness, and make data-driven decisions. The CMO needs them to be able to clearly articulate why their team needs a certain budget, what it’s going to be spent on, and how it will impact business objectives. We asked Tamsin what the key metrics are that she’s looking at as she plans her own style of reporting.

“I think, in itself, simplicity is a proof of success. If I can build something that is really simple and really easy for us to dip in and out of and get that view across all audiences at the same time, without getting too far into the weeds, that is success for me.”

She adds, “Whenever I'm looking at metrics and measurement, it's about contextualizing it because we're not the biggest, and we're growing really rapidly. One of the things I'm really keen to do is make sure that everything that we're doing offline is in some way measurable through what we're doing online and connecting everything to make sure that there's this really simple red thread throughout everything.”

 

red thread through campaign insights
Simplicity is a key measure of success for reporting, there needs to be a clear red thread through from data insights to actions.

 

Simplicity in metrics, it seems, is crucial for clear understanding, easy communication, and quick decision-making. However, Tamsin is quick to point out that there is further refinement and an experienced eye needed to cast across the data for a deeper understanding of customer behavior, campaign performance, and market trends.

“We need to put a layer of nuance, context, or common sense across everything. Take LinkedIn, for example. If we put up a piece of content, I'm not looking at the number of likes. I'm looking at who has liked it, the quality of those people, and the size of their networks. If there's a post that gets 50 likes, but three-quarters of them are influential people within our industry, potential clients, existing clients, some of our own senior people, the quality of that content and the reach is significant.”

Step back and admire the view

After working many years in marketing and media, Tamsin found that taking a break provided her with a completely fresh perspective. This detachment from the day-to-day demands of the industry encouraged a newfound objectivity.

“I stepped out for four years, and when you can look at it from a slightly external perspective, you can see some of the clichés, some of the ego-led activity, and the vanity around it. I think as an industry, we have a tendency to geek out a bit and maybe forget what the purpose is, which is to serve our clients and make their businesses successful through marketing and advertising. It's not necessarily for us to become cooler and more famous for the sake of it.”

Having a Cannes-do attitude

Speaking of the famous, MSQ is gearing up for Cannes in a few weeks. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a beloved platform for marketers; to network, learn, and showcase their work in advertising and communications to a global audience of around 15,000 people every year.

Clearly, never one to ignore a chance to get some serious data, Tamsin explains, “What I am looking to do this year is measure everything. Making sure that our CRM is working really hard for us, being able to see how much we spent at Cannes and then finding out what we got out of it to use across the rest of the year. Did any of those conversations in Cannes actually lead to either existing or potential client growth? How can we be better next year?”

Read between the lines

Tamsin is undoubtedly the person to ask for insights on the industry. Offering up a few last tips and insider tidbits, she advises marketers, “Look for the news behind the news. If you see a competitor that's all over a single title in the industry press, consider whether they're paying for that coverage. Getting an understanding of why people are doing what they're doing and how they're doing it before you take it as gospel.”

The CMO role is clearly essential in any marketing company. They oversee strategic planning, brand management, customer insights, and campaign effectiveness. Navigating all of the complexities, balancing creativity and data-driven decisions, and aligning marketing efforts with business goals can drive growth and build enduring customer relationships. With a greater willingness to hire first-time CMOs, organizations are now proving they’re ready to embrace a fresh and innovative cohort of leaders.

 

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