September 26, 2023

Who is More Useful to Your Business? A CMO or a CRO?

I think I can safely say that you don't go into business to lose money… unless you intentionally do so for a tax write-off.

Yet making money is not as easy as it's often characterized. It takes a great idea mixed with execution. It takes hard work mixed with luck. And, it takes money mixed with convincing people to give you more.

It takes people who believe in your idea, work, and model to turn money into more money.

It takes people who want to work with you to further your idea. People who are willing to trade their time for dollars.

It also takes people who want to buy from you. People who are willing to trade dollars for something that will save them time or money.

Seriously, people don't trade $7 for a cup of coffee because it tastes 3x better than gas station coffee. They trade $7 for the convenience of having an exotic drink with a logo that says, “I'm not poor, I'm cool”.

People are paying $7 for coffee and relevance. That's what marketing is about, PEOPLE! That's why I propose you hire or become a CRO.

C-Level to Sea Level

When people refer to the C-Suite. I think of it as an imaginary top level of a building where people reside.

You know? The ones who run the company and pull all the levers. Sometimes they have their own elevators and parking spots so they don't have to interact with us common folk.

That was so true back in the 1980s and 1990s when I worked in corporate. Back then, they had a common series of titles:

  • CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
  • CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
  • COO (Chief Operating Officer)

Then, with the advent of computers, technology, and digital marketing, they added:

  • CTO (Chief Technology Officer)
  • CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)
  • CIO (Chief Information Officer)

Nowadays, I am seeing a bunch of new C-Level roles like:

  • CSO (Chief “…” Officer) – Sales, Security, Sustainability
  • CDO (Chief “…” Officer) – Data, Digital, Diversity
  • CINO (Chief “Innovation” Officer)
  • CRO (Chief Revenue Officer)
  • EIEIO (Everything Involves Everyone Immediately Officer)

Those C-Suite Chiefs have directors, managers, and teams of people who they utilize to make the board and stockholders happy.

Most small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs with 1-100 employees) operate at sea level. There is no high-rise building with suites. Just ground-level ones filled with owners or families and staff doing all the jobs and all the work that feeds the financial engine.

What Does a CMO Do?

A Chief Marketing Officer manages all aspects of an organization's marketing and branding efforts. This varies depending on the organization's size, industry, and specific goals, but includes:

  1. Marketing Strategy
  2. Brand Management
  3. Market Research
  4. Marketing Campaigns
  5. Product Marketing
  6. Marketing Analytics
  7. Team Leadership
  8. And More

As I said, they often have directors and managers and teams (Oh My) who are responsible for each of those silos and their success.

Just because a business is small or mid-sized, does not mean that those functions are not important. It just means someone or a group of people has to step in.

It may fall on the owner, marketing employee(s), or maybe even a consultant or agency, but they rarely have the resources to hire an expert for each of those eight or more specialties.

So what can you do to get the most out of what you have to work with? Rethink sales and marketing and hire (or act like) A CRO (Creative Relationship Optimizer).

What's a CRO?

A CRO is something I just made up, but it's what I have found that gives SMBs a competitive advantage.

While other marketers focus on website hits, SEO, lead generation, and TikTok videos, CROs focus on business relationships and use creative content and methods to optimize how those activities affect sales.

  • Creative: These are sales and marketing assets like your website, blog posts, videos, eBooks, and more. Creative means that these are not filled with jargon and stats, but written in a way that makes the reader feel empathy, builds trust, and creates action (a phone call, email, and ultimately sale).
  • Relationships: This is the most important business asset you have, and should be segmented into current customers, past customers, prospects, and vendors.
  • Optimize: This means tracking relationships through data collection. Creating feedback loops from current and past customers to help know what may be on the minds of prospects. Then using that data to create new content that speaks to each in a way that feels like it was written just for them.

Once you have that in place, a CRO needs to optimize content distribution methods that match the expectations of each audience. These include social media and email augmented with some paid advertising and print.

What Matters?

Strategy matters. We all tend to look at grooves as systems, but you should revisit your strategy and shake it up a bit. Try a new social media platform. Make some funky videos. Interview your sales team. Get your staff involved.

Brand matters. A CRO can help you make sure that the brand is customer-centric. Brands are fun-loving, living, and breathing things. It can change over time and evolve with your customers. Your brand is not something stuck in a binder that has stringent parameters that shall not be violated by the punishment of death (or at least losing your rights to the free snack station).

Research matters. Survey your current clients. Give your sales team a list of questions to ask and get them to document the answers.

Don't go all political poll on them. Simply ask them what they feel is important now. How, or what, can you do to help them more? That insight can help you maximize the relationships of your sales team.

It's only useful to gather more and better ideas and data if you are planning to act on that feedback.

Why It Matters?

As I said earlier, marketing is about people. It's about the relationships you have with customers, prospects, and vendors.

That means A CRO should integrate people and technology to collect and utilize data pulled from and by your current staff, to optimize communications with people who already interact with your company.

That is one of the best ways to predict how prospects will view, consume, and act on the marketing content you produce and distribute.

Closing Thoughts

I realize that SMBs have limited time and budgets. It can be a struggle to juggle multiple balls while just trying to keep your business viable and profitable.

To make the most of what you have to work with, it's best to optimize the resources at your fingertips.

Often that's people and relationships that make the difference. Which I believe are truly the heart and soul of a successful business.

Customers (and C-Level people) may come and go, but…

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
– Stephen Covey

Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about content strategy and customer relationship marketing! Do you have a content marketing strategy that is working for you? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.