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Talking in Threes: How CMOs Can Keep Their Teams Focused on What Matters

CMOs have a lot on their plates. Most CMOs are facing competing priorities, new challenges, and a long list of opportunities. After talking to a CMO last week and asking about her core focus areas, I realized I see a consistent pattern among successful CMOs and marketing leaders: They can clearly and quickly define their top three priorities.

They talk about their top three priorities with their leadership teams. They share their three priorities internally with their employees. They write blog posts about their three priorities and talk about them in the press. CMOs who can clearly define three priorities lead focused, clued-in teams who know what they’re working toward.

As CEO of Allocadia, I’ve started to understand the power and simplicity of talking in threes. We have a clearly defined company strategy displayed on our office walls, we do quarterly off-site meetings to evaluate our company priorities, and we measure key metrics per team. As a result, our team members execute programs that make a big impact. However, as our team grows quickly, I’ve realized that we need to take deliberate actions to make sure our team stays aligned to the top priorities of the company today.

Our top priorities are what need to happen now. They are not inclusive of everything we need to do as a team, but they are the areas that we need to shine a spotlight on today in order to get to the next level. Typically these priorities need cross-functional leadership alignment and collaboration to be successful. For example, our top priorities could be:

  • opportunity or risk areas at this stage in our business
  • new areas to develop
  • harder special areas to understand and execute on at this stage
  • foundational programs we want to scale

As a company, we’ve laid out our three “key themes.” These three key themes have stayed with us now for two quarters and will stay consistent for a while, until they need to change. They’re easy to rattle off. Under each theme, we create our top three to five goals for the quarter.

We assign team leads to each goal. And each goal has a documented plan, deliverables, timelines and metrics. We’re getting used to sharing these goals internally more and more. Setting specific themes and goals guides my dialogue with the team and gives me permission as leader to get involved in the projects that are the most critical for the company.

So – talk in threes! Talking in threes gives you permission to get involved, helps guide a consistent internal dialogue, and most importantly, helps you and your team stay focused on what matters most in order to have the greatest business impact.

As CEO of Allocadia, I’ve had to learn to lead in a rapidly growing, fast-moving market. And as marketers building Allocadia, we have learned a lot about selling to CMOs: their needs and challenges, and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in this new Marketing 2.0 world. This Leading in Change: CEO Blog Series is intended to help inspire CMOs and marketing operations to lead and build data-driven marketing organizations.