When VPs or directors of marketing reach out to me for a conversation about their content marketing programs or demand gen campaigns, the same themes come up again and again.
They say things like:
“Something is off. My CMO wasn’t happy with the last campaign.”
“We missed our campaign goals, and the CMO has tasked me with improving the results on the next one … but we’re not entirely sure what happened.”
These incredibly smart marketing leaders say their campaigns and content aren’t resonating (with leads or with the CMO), but they don’t know why.
If you’ve ever been in this position, you know you can’t just shrug and say “I dunno.” You need to come back to your CMO with solutions.
Sometimes you can identify obvious gaps or mistakes. The audience wasn’t narrow enough for the campaign, the content was set up wrong in the marketing automation software, or there was a messaging mismatch between the campaign and the target audience.
Sometimes, though, it’s not that clear. In these cases, here’s my advice …
Take a good, hard look at what your organization has published in the last 6 months, and answer this question honestly: Was it geared toward building a relationship with your audience?
If not, this may be the place to start making some improvements before the next time you have a conversation with your CMO.
In this article, I’ll share with you what CMOs are thinking about right now (according to the experts), give you clear ways to talk to them about an ingredient that may have been missing in your campaigns, and show you how to get their buy-in to focus on relationship building with your content.
What Your CMO Might Be Thinking
Recent research from Gartner has CMOs thinking differently about marketing programs than ever before. The priorities of CMOs are shifting away from digital transformation, and toward providing exceptional customer experiences throughout the buying journey. This is in part driven by changes in customer preferences since the pandemic, but it’s also being driven by loss of influence as budget gets moved out of marketing and into enterprise-wide digital experience programs.
Companies across industries have been slashing marketing budgets since 2020. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets as a proportion of company revenue were at their lowest point in the survey’s history in 2021, at 6.4%. That’s down from 11% in 2020. Budgets have climbed slightly since then, for 2022, but they’re still well below pre-pandemic levels. What this means for the CMO is that they need to think more about the customer experience and building marketing flexibility to meet customers where they are.
Given this research, the best thing you can say to your CMO is that you’re thinking about the customer experience in your marketing campaigns.
And you can’t create a better customer experience without considering the relationship you’re building with your customers.
Here’s the Fix: Make the Customer Relationship Your Top Priority
In my experience, shifting your marketing mindset from “building awareness” to “building relationships” can make all the difference in your results. But let’s be real: The term “building relationships” can feel really nebulous.
The way I’ve developed the relationship-building content framework at Horizon Peak Consulting is through a three-pronged approach:
- Connection: The audience sees themselves in your content. They connect with the content and with your brand.
- Trust: Through your content, you’re establishing yourself as a trusted source of authority. You have insight into the audience’s most pressing problems and how to solve those challenges.
- Experience: You’re not chucking random, disconnected content at your audience — you’re taking them on a guided journey. Thinking holistically about your content across your organization will vastly improve customer experience.
Voice-of-the-customer research is our jumping-off point for this process at HPC, and it would likely benefit your organization, too.
When we do this for our clients, we’re seeking to understand the language the target audience uses when they talk about their problems and how they’re going about finding solutions. From there, we use that same language to write content that speaks directly to the customer, provides a great content experience and forms the building blocks of a strong customer relationship. Finally, we use conversion copywriting best practices to lead the customer down the path to solving their problem.
The CAN Framework for Customer Relationships
Still not sure how to talk to your CMO about relationship building and how it can help your marketing campaigns?
Here’s a quick framework and some questions that can help guide your conversation:
- Connection: Emotional connection is a fundamental element of human evolution, so it’s critical to building relationships. When looking at your content, ask yourself, “Does this strive to make an emotional connection? Does the copy address the reader as a human being?”
- Awareness: As a content creator, you must be exquisitely aware of who you’re talking to, so you can engage thoughtfully. Without awareness, your marketing will sound artificial, and it won’t resonate. Ask yourself, “Am I clear on who we’re creating this content for and why? Does this copy use the audience’s own language?”
- Narrative: Narrative helps us communicate complex experiences and feelings, and gives us a way to explain the unexplainable. Bots can’t create narratives; this is a uniquely human skill that can give your human audience a better experience. Questions include, “Does each campaign asset have a story that furthers the narrative I’m striving for?”
Building Relationships, Brick by Brick
We know you take the opinions of your CMO seriously — so when they’re not happy, you’re not happy.
If your campaigns have been “off” lately, your marketing just isn’t resonating, and your CMO wants you to bring solutions — a focus on relationship in your marketing content and campaigns might be the key to getting your results back on track.
At Horizon Peak Consulting, our mission is to stem the breakdown of human connection in this world. I founded this company to help enterprise technology companies be more human in their content marketing, so they can connect personally with their customers and build lasting customer relationships.
Connect with me on LinkedIn to find out how we can help make you look like a rock star in your next meeting with your CMO.