According to the latest data available from the CMO Survey, most companies are less focused on growing their customer base than on improving their core offering: while about a quarter of current spend goes to product development, only 13 percent goes to market development (i.e., finding new customers for existing products).
What’s more, over the last few quarters, spend on product development has inched up while market development spend has crept down. That suggests that CMOs must look to non-traditional strategies for growing the customer base. Here are three to consider.
1. Training and Development
While CMOs acknowledge that having the right talent is the most important factor in their organic growth, fewer than half report including money for team training and development in their marketing budget.
While that may seem like a good way to cut costs in the short term, failing to invest in training could seriously damage profits in the long term. Companies that invest in employee training and development enjoy 218 percent higher income per employee than those that don’t, as well as 24 percent higher profits overall, largely because of productivity gains.
Just as important: training your team can help you attract and retain top talent, especially among millennial workers (who now make up more than 35 percent of the workforce). A whopping 87 percent consider training and development opportunities important in a job. In this era of full employment, providing the resources to ensure that your best employees stick around will be key to achieving sustainable growth.
2. Alignment with Customer-Facing Teams
As we’ve mentioned in the past, the new CMO is responsible for the entire customer experience. But only 17.3 percent of marketing teams today lead customer experience efforts (down from 19.6 percent in 2014).
That means there is likely to be a gap between customer-facing teams and those in the marketing department – a gap that potential customers could be falling through.
The opportunity here is for CMOs to coordinate with heads of customer service on messaging, information capture and goals. In an ideal scenario, CMOs empower every customer facing role to translate customer interactions into data that can fuel new and ongoing marketing and nurturing efforts aimed at developing the kind of brand affinity that inspires repeat transactions.
While training and development can help maximize productivity and loyalty of your existing team, sometimes you can achieve faster, more efficient growth by acquiring another company. This is especially true if you’re looking to add new skills, expertise, or technology quickly.
While not often considered the realm of the CMO, a strategic acquisition can enable a company to enhance its current marketing capabilities and reduce activation time for a new channel, which is often crucial for connecting with new customer segments.
Today, only 2.1 percent of CMOs report that they’ve acquired another company as part of an effort to improve marketing capabilities.
Winning New Customers for Life
Of course, winning new customers is only half the battle for tomorrow’s CMOs. Sustainable growth requires that CMOs establish processes to ensure that employees are focused on building meaningful relationships and delivering hyper-relevant communications for the long term – and by doing this, ensuring that new customers remain customers for life.