How to be good at marketing without a CMO (or a good one) – tips for marketers

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Tips to marketing professionals to be good in marketing without a CMO - or a good one

I really liked Dan Stasiewski‘s article about the 8 mistakes CMOs make when structuring their marketing teams and I was going to curate it and add a few lines about what to do to be good at marketing without a CMO (or a good one). I got carried away. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but sharing my own experience on how to manage and thrive as a marketing professional even if I was not lucky enough to have a CMO or marketing leader – or even a team!- to help me structure things around.

Marketing is changing. What am I saying… Marketing has already changed! And will keep evolving over time. And regarding this change, Stasiewski rightly exposes that “the sales, marketing and service teams live on one communication spectrum.” To me, this statement is great in theory: yes, absolutely, it would be great if the different departments communicated to one another on a regular basis, knew what one is up to and when. A company where team members could participate and give ideas to another team, have knowledge sharing events to discuss and debate on the evolution of each team or the day to day tasks. In theory, that is the most ideal situation I think no one could say no to. In practice however, from the little network I have, I hear different stories.

Doing marketing without a CMO – not an easy thing to do.

Are you in a start-up, in an SMB (small-medium business), or even in a 100+ employee company where the CEO still thinks marketing should be about printing brochure sheets for sales reps? Or worst, are you in one of those situations and have a CMO that is struggling to understand this undeniable change – and adapt to it?

Here are some practical tips I gathered in the past and that I can recommend when you are not as lucky as others and don’t have an incredible CMO to drive change and lead your team.

1. Be patient: a true cliché.

I know. Easier said than done. It’s so hard and yet it’s the key. If you like what you do, chances are you’re as sensitive as I am. And even though you might take things personally, you shouldn’t. Losing your patience won’t get you where you want to be, if anything it will drive you away from it: it undermines your whole point and arguments because even if you were right, you getting upset is the only thing people will remember. You need to state the facts, stay positive, and wait and see. If you can, plant the idea in your boss’s mind, let it grow and let time work its magic: in the end, it remains your best bet.

2. Think about what you need the most to be better at your job.

Is it a tool? Is it a resource? Is it a process to put in place or to change? Think about what you are struggling the most with on a day-to-day basis, and find out what could solve it and make your life easier. Where is the bottleneck? What keeps you from being more productive in your day? Is it manual processes that could be automated? Is it a large amount of work just one person can’t handle alone?

In my experience, we had a lot of manual processes in place, a lot of different tools to manage that did not communicate with one another and a true lack of communication between departments. Well after a good 3 months of thinking, we decided that a marketing automation tool would be our best bet (and we went with Hubspot, FYI). It allowed me to automate most of my demand generation and brand marketing tasks, leaving a good amount of time to start measuring the ROI of each action and create more content.

Of course, we also needed more resources, we needed better processes, better communication. But…

3. You should always fight one battle at a time. And pick the one you actually have a shot at winning.

You have to learn to pick your battles. Let me give you a very concrete example. A friend of mine worked at a company that used to have a manual ERP tool. A tool their president built from scratch. And maintained himself. A tool that sales, marketing, project, maintenance, accounting and admin used. Event clients needed to log in to this tool to communicate with the project team and submit the tickets related to the implementation of the software (bugs, enhancements and questions requests were in there). A great tool, really. Just not as powerful as a Salesforce or a Marketo when it comes to specific needs a department had – and should have.

You can imagine how political it was to discuss this tool and the thought itself of purchasing a different one. Sales couldn’t push for a tool since a lot of information from sales was useful for the project teams once the contract was signed. Marketing got a big win on this one thanks to the flexibility of the Hubspot’s API to transfer all the data acquired into our existing CRM system.

Now that you know what are the most important things you need to do a better job, make sure you have a chance to obtain it. You wouldn’t get your daughter a unicorn for Christmas even if she asked you with those eyes, would you?

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So be realistic. You know your CEO and you know what you can ask of him.

4. Don’t forget you’re not alone in this. Leverage others in your company to contribute in content marketing.

If you’re in marketing, chances are you have this thing that I would call “the marketing mojo”. This ability to run around, talk to everybody in the company, know what’s going on and when. Use that mojo. Turn it to your advantage and motivate all those co-workers who have something to say or a topic they cherish and would like to talk about, or just who would like to develop their online presence. Get those co-workers on board to write a piece of content for you. And if they’re shy or if they’re not comfortable with writing a whole piece themselves, make them contributors in your content marketing tool and have them curate content in your domain. If you want more detail about how we used contributors to double our content production and reach (and how you can do it too), you should read this article.

5. No CMO? Who said you couldn’t have a personal long term vision?

Who said only C-level Executives needed to have a long-term vision for the company or the brand? Maybe C-level Executives :).

Anyways, it’s not true. Don’t limit yourself to what is written on the “responsibilities’ list” of your job description. Read articles about your job and your domain. Identify trends for improvement, changes in the way your peers do their jobs. Discuss with them, ask questions on social networks such as Quora or LinkedIn groups. Don’t wait for someone to push you to be better, go and grab this better and make it your own!

And never forget there are plenty of fish in the sea…


If you have other tips to share or want to react, the comments are right below for you!

And if you want to get concrete tips to become a content marketing rockstar given by many inspiring content marketing influencers, download our free ebook.

ROI or RIP - The Lean Content Marketing Guide for SMBs - Download the free eBook
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About the Author

Julie Gauthier
Julie was our Director of Marketing. Before joining the other side of the Force, Julie was a client of while managing the Marketing of another SaaS software start-up in San Francisco for 2 years (Ivalua). With a Master’s Degree in Consulting from Audencia Graduate School of Management, Julie has lived in 4 different countries and worked in Marketing and Consulting for Apple, l’Oréal, Cartier and Weave Consulting. Besides being a tech nerd tweeting about New Technologies (@JulieGTR), Julie is a pretty serious sports addict (ski, muay thai, field hockey, tennis, etc.), a traveling fanatic and a foodie (either in the privacy of her kitchen or at new trendy restaurants).
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Soniya Roshan
Soniya Roshan
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