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Six Tips for a First-Time or Newly Appointed CMO

by Michael Sprouse  |  
March 4, 2008

I've been at this CMO role for a really long time: seven months, to be exact. Which, depending on what industry report you happen to read, is one-half to one-third of the average CMO's tenure. So in some ways, I already feel like a dinosaur.

Not to mention that I'm a CMO at a company that didn't have to, or didn't need to, market itself previously; nor had it ever had a traditional marketing "budget" for things like public relations, media buying, trade marketing and sponsorships, or professional organization alignment and participation.

Oh, I almost forgot: When I was hired, I had a staff of one. Me.

I should also mention that I came to the job after spending five years as an executive at a public company that really knew how to market itself, had an established marketing department, and spent lots of money each year in marketing across a variety of media.

There is something invigorating about being a new CMO, but also about being a new CMO at a company that hasn't before truly invested in marketing. To be sure, it is challenging; and the most difficult part is probably the first 4-6 months, when the marketing foundation is being poured.

Once the foundation is poured, it's all about delivering ongoing results and proving and re-proving the value that the overall marketing function provides—which, in my case, differed because I needed define the functions that marketing should provide in the first place.

If you're a new CMO or a newly appointed one, here are a few tips that you might find useful in your own efforts:

1. Don't jam Marketing down people's throat—be a sponge

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Michael Sprouse is the chief marketing officer for AzoogleAds (

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  • by Ed Pfromer Tue Mar 4, 2008 via web

    Another point that I think is critically important for a CMO is to show return on the investment made in marketing. Work with the team to identify specific metrics, and report widely on progress to plan using those metrics.

  • by Kristie Tue Mar 4, 2008 via web

    Thanks for the "pep talk" Michael! I am in a similar situation and your article helped to validate my approach since it mirrors the efforts I've made. It makes my job feel less intimidating to know I'm not the only one out there.

  • by Constance Semler Tue Mar 4, 2008 via web

    Michael, all these are excellent points. This is true stakeholder management. My only disagreement is with the statement, "As a C-level executive, you should not need a CEO or anyone else to provide you feedback on how you're doing. You should know." Yes, a C-level should have a well-developed ability to self-assess, but everyone needs and should seek feedback.
    -Constance Semler

  • by Scott Tue Mar 4, 2008 via web


    What's the deal with AzoogleAds? Seems to have fallen off the map.


  • by mark Wed Mar 5, 2008 via web

    succinct and very useful article. In my experience I have found that regular performance feedback on my performance by my team/colleagues continues to be beneficial, and strategic, and helps build a strong team.

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