With multiple holidays just around the corner, it seems like this is precisely the right time to dish out some nourishing food for thought, most of it based on a feast of interviews among recent CMO Award winners.
Beef: Can we focus on our customers more, please?

Ani Matson, CMO of NEA Member Benefits, did something incredibly brave a couple of years back—she focused her marketing department’s energies on doing more for their customers, starting first with their newest ones. Instead of pushing out over 50 individual pieces of communication selling a broad array of products, they reduced the number of sales messages to 6, while beefing up the amount of useful online content. The result? Over 20% increase in sales and higher c-sat scores.

Chicken:Do you have something new in your 2015 plan?

Let’s be brave for a moment and assume you have already launched a new responsive design website like Pentair & Cigna AND have nailed it with programmatic like L.L. Bean AND have a loyalty program that’s cooking along like Papa John’s AND well, let’s pause here. The point is--innovators innovate, and if you count yourself among that crew, your marketing plan might hunger for something fresh—like perhaps an employee ambassador program or a content program with true grit. (We know a great agency to call to get a leg up on this ☺)

Pig: Is your company giving back?

Many large brands like J&J and Macy’s invest heavily in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, not just because they can cast a positive halo on brand perceptions, but also because “good” companies tend to find it easier to recruit and retain employees. That said, we’ve noticed that younger, smaller companies don’t seem as committed to CSR, which perhaps is a bit shortsighted, especially for those looking to employ or engage with charity-minded Millennials. Please push back on this one if you think we’re hunting in the wrong forest.

Turkey: Are you drowning in the daily deluge?

Leading and learning are definitely birds of a feather when it comes to marketers. In fact, talk to enough CMOs and you’ll find a rafter (yup, that’s a thing) of lifelong students, not just of their craft, but also about the world around them. Beth Comstock, GE’s CMO and recent inductee into the CMO Hall of Fame, unabashedly devotes up to 25% of her time out of the office talking to tech-savvy folk within and outside of GE, all with the goals of spotting trends and then leading innovative initiatives.This is tough to do if you don’t leave your cube.

Lamb: Did you forget about your personal brand?

At this fall’s CMO Club Summit, we were somewhat surprised by the enthusiastic response to Drew & Evan’s Personal Branding Workshop. Not only did a herd of over 60 show up shorn of any pretense, they were all actively engaged in the discussion.Perhaps it was the fact that the average CMO tenure is about 40 months, and that many in the room saw the proverbial writing on the wall. Regardless, most realized this was a good time to start knitting together their personal brands, not at the expense of their primary job, but in support of it. And unless you prefer counting sheep, here is our personal branding worksheet to help keep the bleeping “what do I do now?” blues at bay.