CMO Huddles

Crushing the Year Two Blues: Tactics for CMOs to Thrive Beyond Year One

July 02, 2024 2:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“Our CEO called me out for getting less done in year 2” recalled a CMO at a $2 billion software company, “and guess what, the CEO was right!” Thanks to an honest “kick in the butt,” this particular CMO enjoyed two more highly effective years at the company. While the “Year Two Blues” is a common affliction, getting a reprieve is not. As such, CMOs need to recognize the symptoms and take this prescribed course of action.

But before we get there, let’s revel in a great Year One. With your “30/60/90” plan in hand on Day 1, you identified numerous quick wins (ask me for our list of these). These wins buy you the credibility and time you need to tackle the bigger strategic issues like messaging, brand, and the website. You upgraded your direct reports and provided the air cover they need to fend off inane time-sucking requests. You also built or rebuilt a demand-generation engine that is helping to meet or exceed revenue targets. Even your CFO recognizes Marketing’s impact, asking “What would happen if we gave you $X million more?”

The Onset of Year Two Blues

Year One was a ton of work and stressful. The good news is that you finally have the organizational connections, category understanding, and customer insights to make an even bigger difference. The bad news is that you are exhausted. Naturally, you and your team drift toward optimizing the good stuff you’ve built. Welcome to the Year Two Blues.

Taking a Break to Recharge

After confirming your accomplishments at the end of Year One, you tell your boss you’ll be back in 14 days. [NOTE: For those negotiating a new CMO role, bake a break into your contract.] Get some sleep. Exercise. Breathe. Pamper yourself. Seek inspiration. Read a book or four like “Impact Players.” Go to a conference. Visit a natural wonder. And wonder. Breathe. 

Setting Audacious Goals

Write down 3 audacious goals to review with your team, peers, and boss. Each of these audacious goals translates to one or more initiatives. Here’s a starter list of matched goals and initiatives that the CMOs of CMO Huddles have implemented with great success in Year Two:

Customer Retention

  • Start or revamp your Customer Advisory Board
  • Establish executive sponsors for key customers
  • Elevate customer training & certification programs
  • Establish/build community via events
Market Expansion
  • Initiate partnerships that provide a more robust solution for new verticals
  • Conduct research study that reframes your solution and generates massive PR
  • Write the book that positions your company in a new category
  • Develop a robust customer advocacy program that celebrates their success (i.e. testimonial videos, awards, special events, social sharing, etc)
Employee Retention
  • Take over employee comms and make ‘em fun
  • Lead corporate-wide GenAI adoption
  • Create a certification program on new messaging and branding
  • Run employee innovation competitions
  • Involve employees in brand discovery research

Written by Drew Neisser

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