My first month as a CMO has been a whirlwind. Previously scheduled vacation plus a trade show kept me out of the office for several weeks. Even though I feel like I’ve only been in the office for a week or two, I’ve just completed my first 30 days as CMO of LeanData. Here’s what I’ve done and learned.
- Get to know the team. When you’re hired to manage an existing team the first thing to do is understand who they are as people. What are their strengths, passions and desires? What jobs are they doing that they’d prefer not to? What are their personal histories and what makes them tick? What additional roles do you need to hire to augment your current staff to create a high-performing team?
- Learn the product. For me it was mission critical that I understand immediately what problems LeanData’s technology solves. I was going to a trade show on my fourth day and I needed to be able to speak with other executives eloquently and with authority. Well, that learning curve that took a few extra days into the trade show before I felt more confident.
- The first day memo. I’ll talk in later posts about how the “first day memo” has changed my view of on-boarding, but this is something slightly different. I didn’t want to write myself a first day memo. It’s crucial early on to communicate with your fellow executives your initial thoughts and ideas. On my second day, I presented a barebones powerpoint that I used as a talk track to explain my ideas for the future. The third day, after presenting the same first day memo to the board, everyone had an understanding of where I’d be going and a bit about my personal style.
- Understand the budget. I joined nearly halfway through the year, so I inherited my predecessor’s budget. What had already been spent? What commitments have been made (and how firm are they)? What budget is available for completely new projects and what is your plan for how to achieve your goals? I dug deep into LeanData’s metrics. What’s worked in the past? What hasn’t proved its worth? Programs or projects that haven’t returned anything for their investment have been shut down.
- Evaluate the foundation. When I bought a house, I had an inspector come in to walk me through every nook and cranny to understand what I was considering purchasing. Likewise when I arrived at LeanData I had the Director of Marketing Operations walk me through “her house”. Perhaps a bit too intensely, I wanted to understand why things were the way they were. Then I started asking for a lot of changes. I wanted Lead Source options minimized and streamlined (along with Lead Source Details, Industries, and various other picklists). I wanted Marketo Programs, Channels and Tags revamped to be simpler. I met with the Salesforce team and asked them several times what business decisions were being made with certain data. If the answer was inadequate I had the page layouts streamlined to remove irrelevant items. There’s no point in pouring more resources into a bucket with a hole only to watch them stream onto the ground.
- Talk to customers and prospects. On day one, the CEO thought great hands-on training would be to listen in on a call with a customer implementing a new feature. You could hear the sense of relief as her long held pain was subsiding – the thorn in her side LeanData had just removed. Since then I have spoken with a large variety of customers and prospects about their needs and ideas. I love getting to sit with fellow innovators, bounce ideas off of them, see what sticks and what needs more work.
- Write a plan. In the week between jobs I should have been taking a break and getting some much needed rest. Instead I wrote a pre-start pre-knowledge plan for what to do. Once I began at LeanData some items were really off track, others resonated and became a part of my first two quarters plan. Ideas became higher level and less tactical as smaller tasks fused to former broader goals.
- Analyze the stack. For me, in joining a tech startup this was perhaps the easiest step so far, there wasn’t much to understand. We had a few foundational pieces of technology, but there was not a full-stack robust marketing machine. When you arrive, make sure you didn’t just inherit a clunky, jalopy franken-stack without a plan for how to streamline it. The first thing I did was add a project management tool to allow easy visibility into what the team was working on. The second and third technologies I sought out have been a bit harder to obtain, but I’m optimistic I’ll find something to address the holes in my current stack.
- Have some style. This could be a personal one because of my design background. As the leader of the vision for marketing, it was important to me that I reflect on the current design style. The one and only caveat my new boss gave me upon being hired was I couldn’t change the logo. I didn’t want to do anything that major, no overhaul of the website, etc. However, Myriad Pro is perhaps my least favorite “normal” font (hatred for Papyrus and Comic Sans excluded). It had to go. One of the accent colors for the brand was too severe for me, so I modified it slightly. I went on to create new email and landing page templates for the team to use.
- Get to work. My job is to be a thought leader which means I need to be writing or speaking all the time. While I’ve sketched out a first blog post and talked about reviewing some existing white papers – I haven’t done much of my core responsibility. It’s important to do all of the things required to have a successful team, but at the end of the day if I’m not impacting revenue, then the company isn’t growing as fast as it could.
What do you think? Have I miss something major? I’ve only been in the office six and a half days so far so there’s certainly a lot more to do. Leave a comment below if you think I’ve left something out.