Seth Godin reflected today on a blog post he'd made awhile back called The Myth of the CMO. I hadn't seen it before, but when I read it, it strongly resonated with me related to CPA and law firms.
In his post, he used Verizon's CMO as an example of someone doing a "great job," but whose efforts are essentially undermined (to the severe detriment of the company) by operational behaviors and management decisions that marketing should influence, but doesn't. Godin wrote:
Is Verizon disdained, mistrusted and avoided because Judy's not doing a great job? Of course not. She's doing a great job.
The reason we hate Verizon is they act like a monopoly, have ridiculous policies, a lousy call center, a bad attitude, plenty of outbound phone spam and crazy pricing.
We hate Verizon because of all the things Judy doesn't get to influence or control....
If I were the CMO of Verizon, I'd fix the call centers. I'd fire people with a lousy attitude who aren't afraid to share it with a customer. I'd reward the great ones (like the installer who came to my new office last week) and figure out how to get every one of their thousands of people to understand that THEY are the marketing department. And I'd shut down the outbound phone spam center immediately.
Until that happens, the CEO is the CMO, no matter what the title says.
Sound like any firms you know? Sounds like scores of them that I know.
There exists incredible disregard for fixing problems with all the things that need to happen to ensure repeat business from existing customers. Initiatives to improve the customer experience (thus increase loyalty and the referrals that loyalty SHOULD lead to) are seldom considered in firms' marketing plans. Truth is, they are seldom even seriously considered at all.
In the rare instances when they are included in formal plans, distinct goals are not usually tied to these initiatives, and even more rare is a true expectation of follow-through.
Now I don't know Verizon's CMO or the politics of the organization. But I think that Godin is giving her a little too much credit in saying she IS doing "a great job" and that "We hate Verizon because of all the things Judy doesn't get to influence or control." Maybe it's the "doesn't get to" part that bothers me.
See, if the CMO were doing an exceptional job, I'd think she'd camp out in the CEO's office until the CEO agreed to solve these critical problems. Or she'd leave the organization. After all, her reputation is at stake.
How can she be successful if these problems aren't addressed?
Answer: She cannot.
That is how absolutely important operations are to marketing.
So, if you're the CEO (aka managing partner) and the marketer works for you, will you listen? Or will you let the weaknesses continue and end up losing the marketer, losing clients, and missing enormous referral opportunities?