It’s hard to create an environment in which you can meet the growth marketing demands of a company if you yourself aren’t set up for success with all of the tools and metrics you need to facilitate that growth.
From overlapping job duties to a failure to address and implement strategy correctly, there are more than a few pain points felt by those in a CSO position. Identifying them is only the first half of the battle; we’ll also help you understand how to address them and what to use as a measure of success.
What is the Role of a Chief Strategy Officer?
You don’t need a lengthy job description to understand the core role of a chief strategy officer, which is to monitor the long-term success of a company through independent business strategies.
It is, therefore, part of the role of a successful CSO to make clear choices on how they will compete with other similar businesses and win. This requires a clear, long-term strategy and understanding of where the business is now versus where it wants to be.
As mentioned, 65% of chief strategy officers don’t believe that their company has a winning strategy. And, while it’s part of their job to change that, it’s hard to do so without the right tools. On top of that, CSOs face unprecedented, volatile changes in nearly every industry.
Disruptive challenges include changing digital trends, volatile circumstances, and, more currently, an incredibly fast-evolving business landscape caused by the economic and social effects of COVID-19.
The role of a chief strategist requires them to develop and execute sustainable corporate initiatives that facilitate growth. So, identifying the obstacles between the CSO and those growth opportunities is crucial. It’s particularly important as it relates to marketing, sales, and demand generation.
What Are Pain Points Felt by Chief Strategy Officers?
We already know that CSOs face a few challenges; it’s their job to keep up with everything from a shift in business strategies to unforeseen changes in business practices. Now, they’ve also got to think about government lockdowns and the ever-changing nature of the digital advertising ecosystem.
However, there are a few key areas in which chief strategy officers feel a bit more pain than others. Identifying these pain points helps you address how to solve them. Also, it helps to improve overall strategic procedures within the company as well.
Driving Change During High Volatile Circumstances
Interpreting market shifts before they happen and driving deals and partnerships are two key components of what a successful Head of Strategy would be expected to carry out. And, this is all dependent on being able to drive change during high volatile circumstances.
If your business is experiencing a unique set of volatile circumstances at the moment, chances are that you’re not alone. In these unprecedented times, it’s hard to predict just where your industry is headed, how trends might shift, and how to ensure the company is prepared for those changes.
Our conversational marketing data found that after government-mandated shutdowns, internet traffic is up, the conversation volume is up, and so are leads captured and meetings booked.
However, as a CSO, it’s not your job to only look at the current situation; it’s also your job to make predictions about the future of the company and how to navigate the business landscape that is always to follow.
Meeting marketing demands that allow you to facilitate change within the company is difficult in high volatile circumstances, but that’s your job. In an ordinary situation, standard management practices are effective. In these unique times, you have to learn to be a bit more agile.
Plan for contingencies after assessing the major risks that might affect a certain are of the company. Learn to highlight the faults in your company’s strategic planning to then be able to more easily fix them. Mix things up when it comes to communication with employees and clients.
Gaining Alignment Across Teams
You can prepare for unexpected events to occur when navigating volatile circumstances. However, it’s hard to deploy employees dedicated to resolving a crisis if you can’t gain alignment across teams.
This pain point is two-fold. First, it’s hard to trust someone in a CSO position if they’re not able to influence others to work together. As a CSO, you have an incredible influence on the organization’s success. This starts by building trust with teams and individuals.
And, on the other hand, organizational alignment is crucial in the success of a business, particularly when it comes to strategy and implementing processes and changes that benefit the greater good of the company.
Every employee should first understand that company’s shared vision and goal; they should also actively know how to work towards accomplishing them. This goes back to the issue most CSOs have, however.
If over half of chief strategists don’t feel like the company they work for has a winning strategy to begin with, then it’s hard to get everybody on board with that strategy. Likewise, if the strategy changes too often or is difficult to implement, it’s hard to have everybody on board, too.
To ensure seamless and effective business processes, make it a point to align employees within a team first, then align them with other departments to foster a sense of organizational alignment.
This is much easier if you have the right tools. Tools, here, can mean the ability to connect the sales and marketing teams in a way that makes their jobs easier.
Aligning Marketing Initiatives with Complex Company Strategies
As a CSO, it’s your job to, sometimes, challenge the company’s strategies and goals. You’ll want to ensure you’re always working from an angle that’s based on objective insights about strategic challenges. In a volatile business environment, how could you not?
However, it’s sometimes hard to align these complex company strategies with marketing initiatives. And, it usually stems from the fact that teams aren’t aligned in the first place.
If you haven’t learned how to drive change in a volatile environment in order to effectively align different departments with one shared goal, how can you possibly expect to be able to align their goals with complex business initiatives?
If you really want to test the company’s strategic alignment, you’ll ask yourself a few questions, such as:
- Does the business strategy you’ve created support the short and long-term goals you’ve laid out for the company?
- Does every team and every employee within the team understand the goal and how it plays into the overarching strategy?
- Do the team members within each department have the tools they need to successfully adapt to changing markets? Do they have access to tactics? Are they working in the right business environments?
- Are you working on strategies that involve organizing your teams purposefully for innovation?
These are broad questions designed for a general alignment assessment. But it’s likely that you’re able to make alterations and improvements depending on the industry that the company is in.
What Causes Growth Marketing Pain Points?
If you’re a CSO, then you’re likely nodding your head in agreement with all of the pain points listed above. They’re common, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. But, but just causes them?
A few things, actually. Such as:
- The need to master a wide range of skills that other C-suite executives don’t have to master. CSOs are expected to understand sales, marketing, operations, and business strategies.
- The fact that the CSO position is fairly new. Many companies either don’t have a defined set of job duties for their CSO to carry out or don’t treat the CSO with the same level of respect and importance as other C-suite executives in the company.
- The need to implement broad, overarching strategies. If a company is not providing a CSO with adequate funding or personnel, it’s hard to implement such broad strategies across various different departments.
- A general volatile business environment. Again, whether it’s internal or externally-caused, this can make it hard for a CSO to drive change and implement clear-cut goals with the right KPIs.
- Unclear performance indicators. Depending on the company and industry, it’s hard to directly measure the success of a CSO’s effort. This makes it hard for them to do their job and see definitive, positive results.
How to Implement Changes to Set Your CSO Up for Success
B2B lead generation and marketing, demand generation, and lifecycle marketing are some of the most effective ways to set your CSO up for success. Above, we’ve briefly tackled, in short, various ways to overcome each individual pain point.
However, there are certain things that you can do and changes that you can make in order to set a CSO up for success. The biggest? Giving the CSO the tools they need to succeed.
Growth marketing is a particularly challenging area for most chief strategy officers as it’s highly dependent on third-party software, a solid team of highly-qualified individuals, and solutions that are reliable.
Giving a CSO the tools they need to succeed is an easy, actionable way to meet marketing demands and see more results from growth marketing. Invest in marketing automation tools that simplify the marketing funnel and make meeting demands easier on the team.
Steps to Take as a CSO to Meet Marketing Demands
If you’re finding it particularly difficult to meet standard growth benchmarks, it could be due to the volatility mentioned above. Whether the volatile environment has been created from within or is due to an external factor such as coronavirus, you can learn how to face it.
One key step to take is to reassess your expectations. This isn’t to say that you should lower the bar simply because conditions have changed. However, you will want to take a look at the new, realistic landscape in which the company is operating.
Are you expecting too much of your marketing team without giving them the tools they need to succeed while working from home? Are you focusing on factors that you cannot change at this moment?
Ask yourself questions like these on a weekly if not daily basis to ensure your expectations are always in line with the current state of the company and industry you operate in.
And, as part of asking yourself these questions, it’s important to keep the dialogue open and ongoing, both with your team members and your customers.
Still have questions? Contact us for a free consultation and let’s get the conversation started.