CMOs are the bridge – connecting internal goals with external needs. But as a CMO, where should you draw the line? These days you’re judged by your contribution dollars (i.e. sourced or touched), but how should you manage the umpteen other activities you’re currently responsible for?

Your job description probably reads something like “generate revenue by increasing sales through successful marketing for the entire organization, using market research, pricing, product marketing, communications, advertising and public relations.” Yet, there’s inherently a level of gray enabling the marketing organization to be the keeper of not just revenue marketing, brand and public relations, but a myriad of ad hoc activities that don’t clearly contribute to revenue. Read: customer service, sales management, product development, channel management, etc. These additional responsibilities reduce the time you can spend on needle-moving impact.


Download the Time Study Template to bridge marketing expectations and responsibilities.


Below are four steps to help you bridge the gap between marketing responsibilities and marketing expectations:


1. Be Clear What Your Marketing Team is Responsible for


Every marketing organization should have a formal Marketing Charter and Operating Plan for clear transparency and shareability. No matter how detailed or large the plan may be, it enables formal documentation to articulate team ownership across marketing levels, Sales, Business Units, etc.


Do each of your teams have a charter? Do people in your organization know who to go? For example, Is fixing part of your wheel house? Should it be – Magic 8 Ball says “signs point to no” and that Human Resources (HR) should own it.  Does that activity fall in the gray area between external branding vs HR responsibilities?



To clearly articulate and document marketing responsibilities:


    1. Start with your high level strategy


    2. Document on a function by function basis


    3. Speak and receive buy-in with your executive peers (i.e. Sales, Product, etc.)


    4. Review with the CEO and clearly articulate tradeoffs (i.e. your lead contributions will be reduced if you spend 10% of your time on internal communications)


Often for smaller organization, corporate communications, PR, etc. may all fall under the marketing. As organizations grow PR may be its own team within marketing while corporate is kept separate. The important thing is understanding what marketing is and should be responsible for, and what the tradeoffs may be as a result.


2. Conduct a Time Study of Where Marketing is Spending its Time


Your team is complaining of all the things they have to do for the Sales team and beyond, e.g. making presentations, building internal communications, conducting marketing for channel partners, etc. These to-dos become pain points that slow down revenue driving customer communications. In order to reprioritize activities, get the data – prove where they’re spending their time. Start with a time study!


This can be done through a variety of time study mechanisms, some more advanced than others, either in house or with a third party consulting firm. The attached tool can be captured by members of the organization over four weeks and tracked on a daily basis for greater accuracy. Alternatively, you can conduct a one-time online survey that leverages individual estimates. In order to make decisions, you must have the data to back it up. Are they conducting customer service 5 hours a week on average? Prove it en masse.


3. Communicate Time Study Results and Impacts


Time study results reveal you and your team are spending 60% of your time on activities not directly linked to revenue generation. Is your organization staffed to support a broad array of skills? Are you expected to serve as a member of a board in local organizations? Are you asked to engage in legislative advocacy and lobbying? The smaller the organization the more vast responsibilities become.


Let the data guide you in establishing a new organizational design once your strategy and revenue supporting responsibilities are clear. Typically, organizations with marketing role corruption have higher “People spend” versus “Program spend”, meaning they’re unable to invest in revenue-driving activities since headcount drives the majority of their budget. “Program” vs “People” spend benchmarks place “People spend” at 40-45%, the remaining budget should be spent on “Programs”, which reach customers to drive desired behavior and engagement.


To properly staff and pay marketing resources based on responsibilities, I’ve seen one client hire an entry level person to handle all “ad-hoc” activities, freeing up specialized, skilled marketers to focus on pure marketing activities. This better aligns costs with metric driven expectations.


4. Learn How and When to Say “No”


Marketing often becomes the dumping ground of various organizations for things that don’t cleanly fit into traditional Sales, Pricing, Corporate Communications, etc. You must leverage the executive buy-in you secured in Step 1 and learn to say “No”. Generally, time constraints are at the low and mid-level management levels.


To help resolve this, two recent marketing clients recognized ad hoc activities took 20-40% of their team’s time:


  • Client #1 conducted a reorganization, collaborating closely with the CRO and CEO to say “No” where agreed upon. There was a new sheriff in town and limited resources that were not going to carry the weight of the organization. Marketing efforts were strategically selected to clearly contribute to corporate level goals. As a result, revenue increased with the reallocated/refocused time acting like two extra heads were hired to the marketing organization (without the extra headcount costs).


  • Client #2 started tracking how their non-revenue driving activities contributed to the overall organization to show their value beyond sourced dollars. They recently implemented ROMI and ROI tracking on a campaign and segment level to understand how costs compared to return. These metrics gave C-suite visibility on a monthly basis through the executive scorecard, while also spotlighting non-revenue contributing activities like golf sponsorships, etc. or “brand building” activities for collective investment and acceptance of priorities.


You’re Carrying a Heavy Burden, Atlas


How can you hit your contribution numbers if you’re encumbered by the many other activities you’re constantly asked to own? Marketing organizations wear many hats. Just make sure they’re the hats you should be wearing to prove your worth.


Learn more about where to spend here to learn about tracking ROI and ROMI, which help prove marketing value quantitatively.



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