At a Board Level: How to Step Up as a CMO

A crucial skill I think is missing from a lot of Marketing teams, is the ability to be able to speak to the board.

The board need to have confidence in the CMO and Marketing’s contribution to revenue, which can only be articulated by the CMO.

I have built my career as a CMO for tech, Cloud and SaaS businesses. I have completed the Financial Times’ NED Diploma and serve as an NED and Advisory Board Member. I am a huge advocate for advancing the careers of marketing professionals by teaching them to think commercially and demonstrate marketing effectiveness across the business, including at a board level.

As someone that has sat on both sides of a Marketing meeting with the board, effectively tracking and then communicating Marketing’s value creation will propel your career. I have shared what boards are most interested in hearing from their CMOs, so you can best prepare for the difficult conversations.

Be Prepared

When speaking to the board, it is always best to be prepared with the data the board will want to see in order to best understand marketing effectiveness. The following cover a range of information you should have ready as CMO, and why it is important you can articulate this data to the board.

1) Total Pipeline Forecast and Actual Contribution

Can you demonstrate Marketing contribution for the last three quarters and forecast the next three?

The board wants to understand the effectiveness of Marketing, as demonstrated by revenue growth. This is demonstrated by the actual contribution. Forecasting is a powerful skill to demonstrate to board members, together with evaluating the difference between actual and predicted.

2) Conversion throughout the Buyer Journey Funnel

Can you demonstrate the importance of Marketing throughout the buyer journey?

Articulating the conversion of the buyer through various interactions with the brand using accurate metrics is a useful way of showing marketing effectiveness. You can also use this to demonstrate the impact of any disruptions or cuts on revenue and acquisition.

3) Marketing Spend Analysis and Optimisation

Can you share the impact of budget spent, and how to better optimise spending?

Budgeting is an important part of board governance, and the board requires clear spending and optimisation from you as CMO. Always prepare any ideas you have to improve where or how money is being spent to maximise value creation.

4) Changes to Customer Behaviour and Action Plan

Can you demonstrate how Marketing is anticipating or reacting to changes in customer behaviour?

Marketing should have the best grasp on customer behaviour and demonstrate not just a reactivity, but proactivity in how operations are adapting. The board relies on you to share QoQ and YoY changes to both customers and marketing objectives.

5) Market Landscape Changes

Can you present the current state of the industry and any potential risks?

Marketing often has the best understanding of the industry landscape, and as CMO you should feel confident articulating how the business can prepare. Be sure to also share any potential risks with leaders within the business so they can ensure to mitigate against them.

What Boards will ask you as CMO

Board members will have different priorities depending on which stage the business is at. It is important to understand what boards are looking for as you grow, so you can best prepare.

During Growth Stage

The growth stage is very exciting for businesses but the board will be vigilant in challenging CMOs to ensure growth is sustainable.

Focus on presenting:

  • QoQ growth in market share
  • Overall marketing investment and structure
  • Marketing and sales productivity
  • Revenue growth and customer retention

During Late Stage Growth

As CMO of a more established company, you will be asked to discuss different aspects of Marketing.

Focus on presenting:

  • YoY growth in market share
  • Organisational productivity and customer loyalty
  • Competition and strategy for growth
  • Customer mix

Be the CMO for the Board

It is important CMOs can speak the language of the board, in order to best articulate marketing effectiveness and inspire confidence in Marketing’s contribution to value creation and revenue.

Please get in touch for any further support as a CMO orboard member.