How to make sure your CMO’s departure won’t break your marketing

Key takeaways:

  • A departing CMO takes away valuable knowledge of marketing operations, leaving a knowledge gap within the company.
  • This knowledge includes understanding how marketing activities align, their goals, dependencies, and overall strategy.
  • Creating a customer journey map while the CMO is still present can capture this valuable information and provide a roadmap for marketing activities.
  • Customer journey map tools are available to help organize and visualize marketing strategies, although manual creation is also an option.
  • A customer journey map ensures continuity in marketing operations and provides a framework for the marketing team to follow, even in the absence of the CMO.

The sun is shining, the company life is going well, and everybody – including the marketing department – looks like they know what they are and should be doing. Then you hear a knock on your door, and thinking it’s your sales chief coming with another good news, you shout “Enter!”. It turns out it’s your Chief Marketing Officer but you’re not bothered – why should you – he can be carrying good news, too. After he sits down, nervously looks up, says what he has to say and leaves, you start to make up a list of possible candidates for the recently vacant CMO position. You know that picking the right replacement will do it – after all, your marketing works great, so changing a captain of a well-adjusted marketing ship may not be that dramatic.

Or it can all happen from a different perspective – your marketing is underperforming and your CMO is going to get fired. 

After all, the high fluctuation of CMOs is no secret.

If you’re a CEO who doesn’t interact with marketing a lot, you may be under the impression that the only other thing leaving with your CMO will be his green office mug. Well, there’s something much more valuable – although not as visible – that he’ll be taking with himself – the knowledge of your marketing operations. Even though he handed over to your marketing team all the marketing materials and everything marketing-related, the knowledge of how it all fits together probably wasn’t included. And the bigger the company and the broader the scope of marketing activities, the bigger the hole in understanding is left.

The role of the CMO is to possess precisely this knowledge – how are all marketing activities aligned, what is the goal of each, and which ones are directly dependent on each other. In short, what is the overall strategy. These concepts are often very abstract and hard to write down in a simple document. Even if they are written down, their essence may get lost – your marketing may simply be too complex for the limited informative value of a text document.

This state of things could well leave your marketing department paralyzed and afraid to touch anything – domino effects are much more fun to watch on YouTube rather than in your own company.

If you want to protect your marketing department (and in effect, your whole company) from the negative effects your CMO’s departure may cause, one of the most effective ways to do so is to create a customer journey map (while your CMO is still with the company, of course) – not that it’s a given he’ll be leaving anytime soon, but you know, just in case. A customer journey map will provide you exactly with the invaluable knowledge your CMO possesses – how your marketing works as a unit – all the logic behind it, all the dependencies of the various marketing activities, and all the “hidden” connections.

All your marketing activities will be properly ordered and connected – hence the word “map”. It can also become your starting point for any new marketing ideas – you’ll be able to point out where exactly the new marketing you’re thinking about activity fits.

There are many customer journey map tools that can help you put it together – you can also do it manually, although that’s not an ideal solution because keeping it ordered and consistent would require a lot of discipline from everyone involved, and the CJM can get so big that any subsequent “global” edits will take a ton of time.

When (or until) the new CMO comes in, the marketing team will be able to function almost as usual because even though the leader is gone, they still have a game plan to go by.

In the end, having a customer journey map will also make the CMO’s job easier – instead of having to keep all the information in his head, he can have it properly laid out on something more “physical” he can work with.

Do you want to create an interactive and easy-to-use customer journey map with powerful touchpoints, personas, automatic KPI import & monitoring, and much more?

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