April 28, 2022

Two Drews Tackle Top CMO Challenges

CMOs have a lot on their minds lately, so let’s get into the mind of one, shall we? Or, even better, let’s get into the mind of host Drew Neisser, as he hosts a conversation with himself (is this what it feels like to be in his head?!) on all the things CMOs are thinking about right now and how they’re solving them.

Sourced from the conversations happening at CMO Huddles, Drew (and Drew) cover everything from employee retention to proving brand value to managing a messy inbox, providing useful takeaways you can implement today. After this episode, even the busiest CMO will know how to reclaim 10+ hours of their time per week (Seriously!) and work more effectively than ever.

Want to learn more about our CMO Huddles community? This just skims the surface of what top B2B CMOs of today are solving together…come join us!

What you’ll learn:

  • The top 5 issues on CMOs minds today
  • The best quick tips for tackling digital fatigue, retention issues, and swamped schedules
  • Why brand is so important and how to justify brand spend

Resources Mentioned


  • [02:02] ISSUE NUMBER ONE: Retention
    • [03:05] How to build culture in a WFH world
    • [04:17] The boomerang effect: what is it, and how can you capitalize?
    • [05:31] What if we engaged our remote employees with virtual events?
    • [06:47] Making culture sticky: surveys, transparency, swag
  • [07:50] ISSUE NUMBER TWO: Recruiting
    • [08:24] Try this tactic for driving talent to your careers page
    • [09:02] “Hire for talent, not for specific skills”
    • [10:14] Brand matters in recruiting – here’s why
    • [10:52] Personal branding as a recruiting tool
  • [12:07] ISSUE NUMBER THREE: Time and energy management
    • [12:50] Clear off your calendar
    • [14:12] Tackle your inbox
    • [15:35] CMOs cannot multitask (sorry)
    • [17:22] Let’s talk energy management
    • [18:40] Your goal: reclaim 5-10 hours for thinking
  • [19:52] ISSUE NUMBER FOUR: Justifying brand spend
    • [21:19] Better brand = lower CPC, more market share +++
    • [22:45] Rebranding “brand” with euphemisms and brand baselines
  • [25:14] ISSUE NUMBER FIVE: Fighting digital fatigue
    • [26:34] Here’s the litmus test for content
    • [27:20] It’s time to get back together, in person

Highlight Quotes

“We're hiring for talent, not for specific skills.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X “Brand matters in recruiting. And this is one of the arguments that I think every CMO should be taking advantage of right now.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X “I call this the Great Reclamation: We want every CMO to think about how to get 5 to 10 hours back a week to think, to strategize, to plan ahead, to make sure that they are going to hit some big goals.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X “There is no contract (unless you make it) with anybody in the organization or outside the organization that says you're going to automatically reply to every single email in a certain period of time.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X “I'm always amazed that CMOs don't have virtual assistants. I don't care if you have to pay for this out of your own pocket. It is so inexpensive to get a virtual assistant who can take care of so many mundane tasks.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X “Would my best customer get value out of this content? If it doesn't hit that target, if it doesn't hit that litmus test, it's probably wasn't worth doing.” —@DrewNeisser Share on X

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 290 on YouTube

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Drew Neisser

Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. Welcome to episode two 90. What? Yep. We’ve recorded 290 of these babies and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon, 10 more episodes to 300. And you know what? That means time for another Drew on Drew episode where I interview, well, myself.

So let’s jump right in. This is me asking the question. And this is me answering them. Okay. So today you’re going to get a peek inside of CMO Huddles, as we cover the top five issues facing B2B marketers right now. Okay. So Drew, what is the top issue facing CMOs right now?

The number one issue is retention.

Oh, that’s interesting. Yup. I know money is being thrown at your people. And as one CMOs said, money is winning 50% to a hundred percent raises for lateral moves. I mean, it’s a crazy moment for all of these CMOs. Okay. So I got the problem. So what are they doing to combat this? Well, I’ve got a long list of answers for you.

Cause P the CMOs are getting quite creative first. They’re really trying to level-set their current staff. So they are doing across the board raises. And so if you hire a new say director level and you bring them in at 30 to $50,000 more, um, you got to do something with your current team. Uh, otherwise they’ll find out and that they’re gonna.

I mean, giving everybody raises, that’s certainly one way to keep people, but there’s got to be more. Yeah. So most of us have been living in a remote world for what, two years now, and what a lot of CMOs, particularly the, the ones that have built teams in the last two years are really feeling those teams are not connected the way they should be.

So they’re doing face to face and they’re bringing their teams in from no matter where they are, even if they’re international and having them spend. You know, a strategic day or two together to bond, not just with each other, but over the overall strategy. Okay. That’s really interesting. So bringing people together, what else are they doing to try to keep.

So interesting thoughts, one career mapping, where you sit down with every single employee on your team, and you say, you’re here. You want to get there. Here’s how we’re going to get there. Not only are we going to talk about a rotation plan, but we’re going to talk about maybe you need an extra course to get certified in something, and there could be a mentor mentee program.

Anything that sort of says, you’re here. You want to get there and we’re going to help get you there. So it’s a real sort of think of career mapping. Interesting. Now with all these people leaving, I’m wondering about this topic of boomerangs and, and w an idea that I’ve brought up in these huddles. Yeah, boomerang sort of funny because years ago, if somebody left, your company said, yeah, tough, you’re gone.

We really don’t want you back. But now they’re looking at it differently because what happens is if you go to a company specifically, because you’ve got a $50,000 raise for a lateral move, what’s going to happen is the expectations of your performance are going to be unrealistic. You may have gone into a toxic environment and not realized it.

So suddenly. Your old boss calls and says, Hey, how’s it going? And they say, I’m miserable. I hate it here. That’s an opportunity because at that moment, your culture one, and so CMOs are taking advantage of this and allowing boomerangs to do just that and come back. What else in this area of retention? I know we’ve covered a lot of ground, but there must be other things that are.

Absolutely. Right. And I thought this one was really interesting. So for the last two years, a lot of CMOs have been focused on customer acquisition using high quality virtual events, like cooking classes with a famous chef or a wine tastings and so forth. Well, suddenly CMOs are looking at this and saying, why aren’t we doing this with our employees who are remote?

So one CMO mentioned a wine tasting via an organization called purple cork. Another CMO talked about. Having a virtual party around the personality assessment tool that Adobe provides. It’s like your creator type. So that’s another thing that you can do when they’re recruiting area. All right. I know we’re going to get to another question, but I think there’s more in this.

Yeah, it’s such a big problem. I think you got to just keep trying things. And one thing that we’ve, we talked a little bit about it in huddles was just doing employee surveys and making sure not just the marketing department, but the rest of the organization is involved. This is a must for any new CMS. I, you know, I believe that’s the easiest, quick win you can do is do an employee survey and ask them how they feel about the company.

Are they proud of working at this company and ask them for four words to describe the company? Oh, by the way, there is a whole employee survey in my book. Uh, and if you’re listening to the show and you want a copy of that survey, I’m happy to provide it. Just hit me up on LinkedIn. So what else is helping with retention?

Really? You’re trying to make your values and your culture even stickier than they are. Even if money is going to win, they’re going to be some borderline people who might stay if they believe that the company, uh, they want to stay with a winner. So you’ve got to make sure that they’re aware of the news, got to know what’s going on.

And if there’s crises as well, that could happen. You are letting them know your level of transparency is there. They don’t feel like they’re getting the mushrooms. Okay, one last idea for everybody in this area, swag, we laugh about swag. Um, but uh, we got a lot of swag at CMO huddles and, and the CMOs love that.

Think about your employees, um, and creating, not just the t-shirt or the hat, but other things. Um, and some, one CML mentioned using loop and tie, but have fun with that. Maybe you give them a choice with a store. Once CMO mentioned that their swag store was actually making. That’s a lot of retention ideas and it’s such a big problem.

That’s why we spend a lot of time with it. What is the second issue? Funny enough, it’s recruiting after these folks leave or you’re a fast-growing company. I mean, there are many CMOs and CML huddles that are growing so fast that they have 20, 30, 40 openings in their department that are new jobs, new roles because of the growth of the.

So recruiting is a, is a big issue, but that’s kind of a standard issue. And you know, is there really any new thinking in that area? Yeah, I think there is. So we talked a little bit about how employees get excited about news for recruiting standpoint. If you are a company that’s say just got a funding route, or you just have a new CMO or you have news new product, or you hit a milestone while you might not get press coverage for that milestone, you may get some exposure that somebody, uh, will see it as a potential recruit.

We’ll see. And so what CMOs are doing is putting a little. To the careers page in every single announcement. I thought that was really, really smart. That’s interesting. And that is as a little bit different than things that I’ve heard about. What else are they doing in. Well, obviously they’re working with a wide range of recruiters.

A lot of CMOs are starting to think about this as an opportunity for diversity. They’re looking farther. Why at CMO Huddles, we have a partnership with Black Marketers Association of America that has helped a couple of companies, but this is the moment where marketers need to think beyond. And I heard this expression in a conversation in a huddle earlier this week, which was, “We’re hiring for talent, not for specific skills.” That’s so interesting. And I think that can be problematic, right? Because if you hiring someone and say that you want them in your marketing ops group, and they’ve never used any of this software, doesn’t that create. Yeah, you’re really playing the long game when you do that, because you are going to have to train those folks.

And so the value isn’t going to really appear sometimes for six months for a year, but you get a chance because you know, they’re bright and, you know, they’re eager and highly motivated. Um, you’re just working with a better team. Yeah, I know. And I was a little bit torn on that one. I’m actually in terms of hiring for talent, not skills, because it is going to be problematic, particularly in certain areas.

Anything else in the recruiting area? Yeah. This is going to come back to one of the other trends we’ll talk about in a little bit, but brand matters in recruiting. And this is one of the arguments that I think every CMO should be taking advantage of right now, which is think about. The lack of awareness of what that means to the number of people that visit your website and what it means to recruiting.

The more aware people are of your brand. The easier of it is to recruit for it. I mean, it’s just, if you have no awareness, there’s no bragging rights at working at your company. So that’s a little bit of a problem. You got anything else in this recruiting thing? Cause otherwise we’re gonna move. We do the personal network.

This is the thing that I think CMOs are doing with great effect. So they’ve established, their personal brands are working to establish their personal brands on the platform, say LinkedIn, and they’re not talking about their business, but they’re talking about their philosophy and their values and the things that are important to them.

Then, for example, they may get involved in their community doing something that’s important to them that has nothing to do with the business. And they’ll spot someone there that’s just really involved. And they’ll use that as a recruiting opportunity, or they’re just building this community on LinkedIn and someone says, Hey, that was a really interesting thing.

And then the CMO says, “Oh, you seem like an interesting person. Let’s talk.” CMOs are really getting creative and getting personally involved because think about the HR department. What do you mean the HR department? Think about the HR departments. They are dying. I mean, they’ve been dealing with COVID, they’ve been dealing with remote.

They’ve been dealing with mass resignations. And so anything, if you want to fill your department’s jobs, think about it as a task for. That’s number two, what’s number three, in terms of top challenges right now for B2B CMOs, time management and energy management. So let me get specific. So because of the pandemic, we have more meetings and because we have more meetings, CMOs are struggling with their schedules.

And if you look at it at their schedule, they are going back to back to back to back to back meetings all day long. And the result is they’re exhausted. And number two, they don’t actually get time to think about the things that they could do that really make a difference. Okay. So they’re just in meetings.

What are some of the ways that folks are fighting back on? I think I did a post on that or a newsletter, but there’s so many different ways. One, take your calendar, your calendar is your friend, and you really have to be ruthless with what meetings you go to and what meetings you don’t. And so, for example, let’s say you, every Friday, you say I’m not going to have any meetings on Friday personally, and maybe I’ll say to my whole team, no meeting Fridays.

That’s good. That’s a good strategy for meetings and there’s probably more. Definitely more, they call this the great reclamation who want every CMO. That’s really into this thing to think about how do they get five to 10 hours back a week to think, to strategize, to plan ahead, to make sure that they are going to hit some big goals.

Just did they get a thousand different micro-campaigns off the ground, but did they hit some big strategic goals? And obviously this is really important to them at their company because they need to do it, but it’s also important for their career and their psyche. Because if all you’re doing is little things every day, it’s going to grind you down.

So how are they going to get this time back? It can’t just be me. Well, meetings are a part of it. Meetings are definitely a part of it, but then next thing, and this is something that I’m obsessing about really personally is email. Wait, how are we going to get time back on? Here’s how we’re going to get time back on email.

First of all, you get copied on a million emails you don’t need. So get on copied, really watch out for group emails. You don’t need to be on every one of those to train your team on using headlines that define what action is required. So in other words, in the subject line, you can say, need your input or just FYI.

Or don’t bother or no reply necessary and put that in the headline. Okay. That’s those are pretty good. What else can people do related to. Make your team, right? What they want in the first sentence. Why do I need to read this email and make your team write three paragraph emails, forget the one pager or two pager.

That’s actually being lazy. It’s easier to write a long one than a short one. You need to make them respect your time. So that means saying I’ve got rules on email. I only read it three times a day. Wait, say that again. I only read emails three times a day. This is repeat after me. This is what you’re going to do.

And you’re going to put 25 minute or 21 minute blocks on your calendar, where you read emails. So you can’t have meetings. That’s it. You’re not going to look at your phone all day long. And the reason you’re not going to look at your phone all day long is you can’t concentrate. If you’re looking at your phone all day long.

It’s a mistake. You cannot multitask. You are the COO. We are going to conquer this together by managing your time and focusing on the big things. And most of the time email is not the big thing. Okay. But what about the urgency? My CEO is going to whatever. Yeah, your CEO is going to whatever, but here’s the thing.

There is no contract, unless you make it with anybody in the organization or outside the organization that says you’re going to automatically reply to every single email in a certain period of time. It’s not. So one of the things you can do, for example, I just, I did this and I was able to reduce my email pile by about 30% is I create a rule.

There are certain emails that I’m copied on. I, they automatically go to a folder automatically if it has the word bill in it, for example, I have a folder called bills to pay, and I only do that on Fridays at two o’clock it’s on my calendar. There’s a five minute window for that. So that invoice, it comes in.

Yeah. Or wherever, as long as there’s bill and the headline, or build a pay, it goes into that folder. So that just saved me, right. A few. Oh, it’s not that many, but think about all the rules that you can create. There’s so many rules that evolve, not you having to look at it. And that’s the thing we’re trying to do is stop getting all the emails.

I think I unsubscribed to a hundred newsletters, um, as a result of this app at pre-sold because I never read them anyway. So why are they cluttering up my body? There’s a lot going on there with the email. So we’ve, we’ve talked about, uh, meetings, we’ve talked about email. What other suggestions do you have in this time?

Management and energy management? And we all have times of the day, this is the energy management part, where we’re just simply more effective at thinking about stuff, about writing about stuff. Yet we use that time to do mundane tasks, like email. We just fritter it away if you’re want to write. And you know, you’re good at writing then, and you’re going to write at a certain period of time.

Put that on the calendar that is sacred. So maximize the time you do it, number two, no more to do less. Believe it or not. When we get rid of the two to-do list, your calendar is your to-do list. And if it isn’t on your calendar, it’s not going to get down. So now you may have a lot of little tasks that you say, oh, I got to call the dry cleaners.

Or I got to book a trip where I got to do that. By the way, you could probably get someone else to book the trip for you. And that gets us to another solution. I’m always amazed that, uh, CMOs that startups in particular don’t have virtual assistants. I gotta tell you, I don’t care if you have to pay for this out of your own pocket.

It is so inexpensive to get a virtual assistant who can take care of so many mundane tasks. Get yourself, a virtual assistant. I happy to recommend a couple of services that provide them, but it will be a game changer. You should not be booking your own travel. You should not be booking your own meetings.

There’s so many tasks that you are giving up 10, 15% of your time. Remember, we’re trying to reclaim five to 10 hours for thinking. So you’re going to have to change your behavior. I know there was another one you were thinking about that. I think just sort of went out the window in terms of energy, man.

Yes, you heard. Right. That other thing that is sort of shocked me in all these time management books, including one by Franklin Covey, one that just came out, uh, recently Kevin Cruise’s book and then I’m and Jenny Blake has a, has a new book. What they all talk about is taking breaks, building breaks into your calendar because you will be more effective.

You don’t even think about that. Right? Take a break. A Huddler mentioned, in fact, they take naps, just catnaps in the middle of the day. So energy management and time management, you’re going to use your calendar more effectively. You’re going to block off time for the strategic thinking and probably. The last thing in that area from a time management standpoint is not only are you going to learn to say no seven different ways, but you’re going to teach your team how to do a to, wow.

That was a lot on that one. Okay. What is the big trend? The big challenge for CMOs, the number four that is justifying brand spend that doesn’t sound like that should be that hard. What you mean? I think every B2B CMO knows one, that they have to drive revenue somehow or another. They know that. And they also know that they have to impact the brand.

They have to increase awareness and they have to improve perceptions on the good side. And if they’re negative perceptions, they have to sort of diminish those negative perceptions to grow the business, to increase market share. Okay. So what’s the challenge. The challenge is they can’t use the word brand.

It’s unbelievable. They cannot use the word brand. In fact, in the huddles, we’ve talked about the fact that the word brand needs a new brand. It needs to be rebranded because it is such a dirty word. Okay. What do you mean brand to C-suite? Executives means fluff and colors and logos and design. Isn’t that?

No, that’s just part of it. That’s the physical manifestation of it. But when we talk about brand, we talk about sort of what does the brand stand for and how does it go to market? And why should I care about you? And as a company or as an individual, and all of those things may or may not come, they could come through the colors and the design, but there’s so much.

We know that we need to justify brand spend, and that’s a big issue. But if our goal is to drive revenue, what’s the deal here? Why are we talking about justifying brands? So, this is what happens. So every CMO goes into the new job and they know they have to drive demand and they’re looking for quick wins.

And all of that is really good and really smart, but they reach a point in time, for example, where they can’t spend another single dollar cost effectively on SEO or SEM because the Google algorithm is saying your cost per click is just not going to go. Well, the miracle brand spending is that when you spend on brand, your cost per click goes down because when your awareness goes up, people are more likely to click on your ad.

And that’s just one aspect of it. When your awareness goes up, your market share opportunities, go up because more brands will consider you more buyers will consider you and put you on their short list. We’re talking B2B here, right? Nobody’s buying a B2B brand. And in like 15 minutes of market research, there was a committee there’s 10 to 15 people there doing all sorts of homework.

And in the process of doing all this homework, they’re going to learn about these various brands and the reputations of these various brands. If people don’t know who you are, you don’t have as much of a chance as the bigger guys. It’s just the way it is. So what’s the solution here? How do we fix this?

Okay. There’s a couple of things. One, a lot of CMOs don’t call it brand. They call it corporate marketing, or they call it revenue marketing, or they, you know, call it growth marketing and they have all sorts of euphemisms. So they don’t have to use the word brand. And that’s fine. That’s part one of this thing per two of it is really to create a baseline.

So, you know where you are in your market. Let’s, let’s just on a very simple basis. If you’re a big enterprise seller, they’re probably 100 to a thousand companies that can change. And within those 15 people, and you can find out what your awareness is and your baseline. Understanding and appreciation is in a huddle recently, once CMO talked about that, yeah.

They spent a hundred thousand dollars to level-set both their overall awareness, what their market share was. And what were the key factors that. Drive an increase in market share. They can actually start to link awareness and understanding of certain things. For example, they knew that if they improved their scores in this particular attribute and could sort of mitigate some of their lower attributes, the things that people thought negatively about them, then they could increase market share appropriately.

Wait, so they have a model. Yeah, they have. I have a model that shows, and it’s like 95% accurate that shows that if we fix these things and we message against these things in a week, increase our awareness and understanding and appreciation our market share with. Isn’t that like the holy grail. Yep. It is.

There are other services that do this in terms of companies that you can hire. One CMO mentioned serious decisions, and I, I know there’s a lots of other firms out there. One way or another, you’re a new CMO. You’ve got a baseline, your awareness against your core target prospects. It is really important.

You’ve got to figure out a way. And in my book I also provide some very cost-effective ways of getting at this issue so that you can know, you know, that awareness is inheriting. Good or bad for your brand, but you just got to have it. So you’re not having these, I don’t want to spend the money because I don’t know what’s going to do no.

You’re going to spend the money because you know what you need to do. Okay. That’s interesting. Are we ready for the fifth of challenge that CMOs are facing? I think we are. What is it? Fighting? Digital fatigue. Wait, I thought that was over. What are we, what are we talking? Events died, literally, you know, went away and, uh, April, 2020.

And, um, yes, they’re coming back and I’ll talk about that in a second. But between April 20, 20, about 50% of budget is that were being spent on events, went into digital marketing and the result was a flood off. And I, I mean, flood is an understatement, a deluge, I mean, historical think Noah’s our kind of flood of content and digital program.

So what happened? Well, this flood sort of, you know, as the ship was rising, it didn’t raise the shifts for everybody. It just diluted the effectiveness of all of these, uh, digital marketing programs. And, you know, I talked earlier about the time management issue. You know, we’re burned out from zoom meetings, but so are your customers, so are your prospects?

So this fatigue that a lot of CMOs are seeing is happening in response rates to digital ads in response rates to webinars in attendance to webinars, people may sign up, but then they don’t show it’s just harder and harder to get digital engagement. Okay. That’s really interesting. So what’s the solution to fighting digitally.

A couple of things. One is you just have to raise the bar on everything that you’re doing is the content you’re doing truly exceptional and worth the time. And just think about this, right? I’m going to share it with my best customer. Would my best customer get value out of this content? If it doesn’t hit that target, if it doesn’t hit that litmus test, it’s probably wasn’t worth doing.

You can do better, less. That’s a really interesting and important part of the overcoming digital. Is there more, you betcha. There is more, the next big area is yay. Going back to physical events. Wait, what about mass mandates and vaccines and all that? The pent-up demand for physical events is incredible.

We found this with huddles too. People want to get together. They want to see each other face to face. People are asking for vaccines, uh, and many marketers have vaccine requirements fine, but they’re out there. They’re getting out there. And I meant to mention this earlier. I simply forgot part of the retention solution is bringing your teams together.

Physically, just literally bringing them together because they haven’t met. We’re bringing our teams together. We’re bringing our customers together. We’re bringing our prospects together and we’re doing it via physical events and it’s just so darn exciting. It’s amazing. And yes, COVID is on the rise again, but I don’t think you’re going to see necessarily a complete cancellation of all physical events too soon.

Okay. Is there anything else that marketers are doing to fight digital fatigue? Yeah. They’re looking at other forms of advertising. They’re doing outdoors, they’re doing radio, they’re doing podcasts. Claveo is on, uh, just heard them the other day. It’s a B2B brand and there they are on the daily. I interviewed Dave Turner and he talked about physical events and, and outdoor, and Coupa’s doing sponsorships of major league baseball and the New York Yankees.

So they’re just looking beyond digital. And that also speaks to the earlier point. Uh, Building brand, building awareness, and going back to some things that we would have thought, oh no, those have died. All right. So five issues and I get all these 25 solutions that feels like a pretty good episode. Thank you, drew for your insights straight from CMOs.

And it’s my pleasure. I love being on your show. So there you have it. All right. Hey, uh, do me a favor if you’re still listening at this point, just give us a five-star review. That would be so nice and hit me up on LinkedIn. Always love to hear your comments. And remember if you have a question you’d like me to answer on this show, send an email to me, drew@renegade.com or leave it on my LinkedIn.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about and this area is B2B marketing boutique in New York city, visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.