If you’re like me, you find the current economic turmoil a little disquieting. I worry about where the market is going but try not to to obsess over the state of my investment account. At this point there really isn’t much to do except ride things out. Hopefully I am sufficiently prepared.
Many corporate CFOs have spent the past couple of years preparing their companies by creating “fortress” balance sheets. According to Moody’s Investor Services, US public companies have hoarded a staggering $1.5 trillion in cash. Clearly CFOs have been planning for the worst. What about CMOs? Does your company have a “fortress” marketing balance sheet?
Here are 10 things your CMO should have been doing to strengthen the marketing balance sheet in anticipation of tougher times:
- Building the brand (awareness and reputation)
- Improving channel effectiveness and loyalty
- Implementing strategic account and customer loyalty programs
- Creating a strong community (based on a strong social media presence)
- Nurturing relationships with media and analysts
- Establishing a bullet-proof lead management process (including appropriate CRM and Marketing Automation infrastructure)
- Improving the website (design, SEO, registration and conversion capabilities, etc.)
- Updating sales tools including the collateral suite
- Developing the competency of marketing staff and recruiting quality vendors
- Justifying and obtaining a stable budget to sustain marketing programs
It’s quite a list, isn’t it? Nobody said a CMO’s job is easy (except maybe the CFO!). To determine if your marketing balance sheet is sound, consider the following metrics:
- New customer growth
- Customer retention/renewal
- Cross-sell ratio (breadth of portfolio sold to customers)
- Share of wallet (share of customer spending)
- Revenue and margin per channel partner
- Customer satisfaction and channel satisfaction
- Funnel performance: lead value, aging and conversion rates
- Brand awareness
- Website traffic, site ranking and keyword rankings
A strong marketing balance sheet is just as important as the financial one when it comes to preparing for tough times. Like a good investor, you want to avoid being forced to make a snap decision during a crisis. Take the time to review your current marketing mix so that when the inevitable belt-tightening comes, you know what’s expendable.
Market leaders reap the benefits of strong balance sheets by staying engaged with the market and using times of uncertainty to pull ahead of their competition. So, by all means, build a marketing “fortress” but for goodness sake don’t raise the drawbridge, hide in your tower and wait for the barbarians to retreat!