CMO Strategy Group
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the team
We specialize in product launches, go-to-market strategies and implementation. We are a team of professionals from multiple marketing disciplines: operations, sales and finance strategy, digital and social marketing, communications, media management, brand development, design, events and market research. We develop solutions in each of our respective areas of expertise and work together to produce an integrated marketing strategy with priorities, recommendations and budget. We implement these strategies as a partner, along side your team.
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2013 (6)
2012 (4)
2011 (2)
2010 (5)

Architect and General Contractor of Marketing

By Tim Priest 10.07.13

CMO Strategy Group is best thought of as your architect and general contractor for marketing, rolled into one package. When remodeling your home, kitchen or bathroom, it is best practice to hire an architect to develop the overarching plan and a general contractor who manages the process start to finish. In a remodel the architect and contractor are siloed. The arcitect develops the plans (in partnership with you) while the contractor is responsible for the implementation of the plan, budgeting and managing the multiple subcontractors needed to complete a complex job. General contractors will manage permitting, demolition, subcontracting plumbing, electricians, carpenters, cabinet installation, tile installation, countertop installation, etc., all the way to the end of the project.

A marketing project should be approached the same way- except the architect and the general contractor should be rolled into one. First you need to identify the objective Ė grow revenue, target a new segment, launch a new product or service, expand geographic reach, develop new channels and partnerships to drive sales, etc. CMO Strategy Group can work with you to quickly define the objective and architect the plan. The next step is a rapid audit marketing assets. That includes reviewing your current tactics, assessing your teams strengths and weaknesses and determining what tactics are going well, what can be improved and what is being missed altogether.

The next step is to put together a plan and budget to achieve your goals. The CMO team can help you quickly determine what combination of strategy make the most sense given your goals, budget, timeline, assets and liabilities. There are an infinite number of possible things that can be done. The challenge for most executives is prioritizing these tactics. Most people/employees will gravitate toward things they like to do or know well. Employees tend to put a low priority on things they arenít experienced with. While this is a natural reaction, we are all resistant to new things, it can cause your company to miss out on engaging customers and growing business. Marketing is constantly changing. What work yesterday may not work tomorrow.

Once the goals, tactics and budget are established CMO will work with your team as well as our design, development and content creation team to implement the strategy. Many companies retain a design firm without going through the steps above. This does not set your design firm up for success. They are going to give you what you asked for . . . but are you asking for the right things? In most cases, the answer is no.

Your internal marketing team is buried putting out fires and driving what has always been done or what has worked up until now. Internal teams do not typically have time to attend conferences and read up on industry trends. You wouldnít be where you are without them, but you are going to need a new perspective to get to the next level.

CMO has a team of creative minds, which we bring to bear on your project. This includes strategy, design, web, mobile, print, photography, videography, content creation, media relations and more. We tell stories for and about your brand in partnership with you to achieve the goals you have set. We are experienced people and project managers and can help bring out the best in your team and ours.

Good marketing requires a mosaic of tactics to reach and engage your customers. CMO Strategy group will help you establish the foundation for marketing success and then guide your marketing campaign to customer contact and success.

CMO can also plan and manage your media buy if that is part of your strategy. However, CMO Strategy Group is not an advertising agency. We do recommend Pay-Per-Click Adword campaigns, and in rare cases even recommend traditional advertising. We often help our clients implement campaigns alongside their internal teams, serving as project managers, culture change managers, and technology solutions providers when needed. We charge a project fee or hourly rate to provide these services. This makes us marketing tactic agnostic.

How much will a campaign or product launch plan cost? We have created product launch and campaign plans from $2,000 for a small company to $50,0000 for a large-scale global product launch. It depends on the market research and level of detail required, number of variables, size of the internal team and the hours needed to plan and implement a launch. Letís discuss how to remodel your marketing strategy.


Managing Remotely Doesn't Work

By Tim Priest 10.02.13
Managing a dispersed team using video chat, skype, Microsoft Link, phone, email, text message, IM shared calendars, and CRM in-mail is challenging to say the least.  More and more companies are going virtual to avoid overhead costs, but this comes with inherent weaknesses.  After six months of managing a broadly dispersed team operating in a combination of virtual, work from home by choice and traditional office space I learned a lot. I found some things that worked and some that didn't.  The technology is there to run an operation virtually and more and more companies are doing it, but it requires a strong IT infrastructure, some clear rules/expectations for how we communicate, training to help employees use the technology and mandatory face-to-face social time.  

My biggest challenge was communicating nuanced messages using these clumsy communications platforms.  Giving a direct order is easy on any platform, but a good manager works to empower each team member and draw out their best.  Bringing out the best in others requires active listening and face to face discussions to find each persons strengths and weaknesses, interests and passions.  I instituted a regular visit to each office or geographic location to build that report with my team. What I found was that dispersed teams do not know what the people in other respective offices do, and when someone doesn't understand what a colleague does, they often assume the colleague does nothing.  Bringing the teams together regularly can help break down these silos. I recommend a regular happy hour or social time to build familiarity and trust.  Start with this time in each office and then bring the teams together whenever practical.  Make time as a manager for each person and for each team.  Don't play favorites and quickly remove employees who gossip and badmouth each other.  These employees poison the office culture.  

I found that each of my direct reports preferred a different method of communication, text, IM, phone even Facebook and Twitter.  That was tolerable but made creating a paper trail of accountability more complex. Personally, I despised Microsoft Link as a tool.  All of my team could see when I was at my desk and was free to intrude on my productivity with questions they could have solved themselves.  I found that I often turned it off so that I controlled when we communicated and how. There are so many tools for internal and external communication today and the etiquette for how to use them is not fully established.  Invest some time to create that etiquette for internal communication in your office and then expand that discussion to include your customers.  Everyone will appreciate the opportunity to establish ground rules that help us all be more productive.  

My biggest take-away from this experience is that when there is a problem - get on a plane and meet face-to-face. Misunderstandings and conflict cannot be resolved by phone, Skype, video chat, texts or IM.  Go see the person or team when miscommunications arise and build in time to make the face-to-face meetings recurring and regular so that the issues do not recur. 

Mistakes Made My Career

By Tim Priest 09.25.13

I recently submitted my resume as part of a bid for a project.  I am struck by how disconnected and dissonant the resume writing experience is compared to my professional life and combined experiences.  Resumeís are about listing all the things we did right Ė leading to all the amazing accomplishments of our careers.  I am in my early 40ís and have much of which to be proud.  Having worked my way up form entry level college graduate to President and CEO, serving as a chief marketing officer, vice-president of business development and marketing strategy consultant along the way. I would even go so far as to say that what I learned from these experiences brings me to the pinnacle of my career.  I add more value more quickly to any organization than ever before.  My many great experiences provide a base of knowledge that serves as the foundation to each new project I approach.  My reflection on these experiences and knowledge has even yielded wisdom, which I hope will continue to grow for years to come.  But this knowledge and wisdom is not born from all the things I did right.  It comes from all the mistakes.

The past failures, the overreaches, the boggled communication, the missed opportunities, these are the things from which I learned the most. My knowledge and wisdom flows Ė not from those items bulleted on the resume Ė but from all the things not listed.  My greatest value isnít on the page.  The most valuable thing about me is what I have learned from my many mistakes throughout my career.

I am not sure I could land a job with the list of what I did wrong and what I learned from each wrong throughout my career.  But I should.  Personally, I only hire people who are willing to be self-reflective Ė because I know that is where knowledge and wisdom are born.  I have no use for the job candidate who did everything right in the past.  I want to hire the applicant who took risks, failed, picked herself up and tried again, and again until . . . until this very moment.  I want to hire the candidate who reflected on each mistake, learned what could be learned and kept trying.  That is me. I would hire me in a second. 



Tim Priest's article in Retailing Today

By Tim Priest 09.06.13
CMO Strategy Group founder Tim Priest recently published an article in Retailing Today on how NIKE is using the iPad in stores to revolutionize the product selection and buying experience.  This is the future of retail and the beginning of the end for retail employees.  You can read the article here: 

Six Steps to Designing Packaging that Connects with Customers

By Tim Priest 02.13.13

As an outsourced CMO working with food and beverage clients, I am often called on to help design packaging and plan the go-to-market strategy for new products. I recently had the pleasure to work on the design for a line of kombucha beverages. Kombucha is a fermented tea sold in most grocery stores as a ready-to-drink product. It is praised for its health and digestive benefits. In this product category, one dominant brand has 80% of market share and the category is growing quickly with many new customers trying the product every day. My challenge was to help my client design packaging that would appeal to new customers while also enticing the leading brands regular customers to try something different. We started where all packaging projects should start, with research.

I set out to build a customer profile of a typical kombucha drinker. We asked for vital lifestyle data as well as factors that drove the brand selection: such as age, income, gender and education levels as well as health behaviors and lifestyle. I had a theory that if we could capture the health benefits of kombucha in the packaging they would sell like crazy . . . I was dead wrong. In fact this assumption could have ruined the packaging if I had acted on it without soliciting customer input. In our discussions with customers, what I learned was that taste, not perceived health benefits, were the deciding factor when selecting a brand. It turns out, kombucha drinkers have already accepted the many health benefits. What they want to know most is what this particular bottle is going to taste like.

A recent study of eye tracking on product packaging indicates that customers are spending fractions of seconds reading labels and making buying decisions. In many cases, as little as 1/20 of a second is spent on packaging. I have also learned from recent studies that nutrition labels have little impact. Many of your most compelling nutrition facts, such as low sugar or vitamin content is presented near the bottom of a nutrition table and therefore overlooked by customers. Given that busy customers are not reading nutrition and packaging narratives, getting packing design right is mission critical.

My clientís product was saved by the research. My team and I avoided a costly mistake. Starting the packaging design with strong assumptions is common error, made most often when a company designs product packaging without an outside perspective. Without this due diligence I might have put the wrong facts on the packaging. A well-designed survey that didnít convey any bias benefited the client. A poorly-design survey could have simply confirmed my bias and led us down the wrong path.

An outside team will have fewer biases and more experience eliciting valid and useful customer feedback. If you are not sure if you are asking the right questions in your research look for outside advice.

Below are six steps you can follow when designing new product packaging.

1: Determine where your product is in the categoryís evolution. This will help determine the strategy and impact how much time the customers will spend learning about your product.

2: Build a customer profile by gathering voluntary information from your customers and soliciting active feedback. There is some basic information that you need such as, age, gender, ethnicity, income ranges, education levels and geographic location. Other questions will need to be customized based on what the product is.

3. Determine what motivates buying preferences. If this is a new food category, many customers will read the labels and nutrition information, but only for fractions of seconds. If this is a mature category, expect customers to spend even less time reading packaging or nutrition information.

4. Determine your top 3 buyer motivating factors and use them, front-and-center on your packaging. Remember, you have fractions of a second to make an impression.

5. Work with the best design firm you can find. Once you sort through the first four steps you are way ahead of most companies trying to bring a product to market, especially if you have avoided your own biases. Now you need an amazing designer to translate that research into a design that connects youíre your customers and conveys the critical information in 1/20 of a second. Your designer speaks the language of the subconscious. Trust her. She is translating knowledge into a language you donít speak.

6. If you are a small to mid sized company with more limited product launch budget, work with a design firm to develop the most compelling packaging you can. Plan your go-to-market strategy and launch it. New packaging if done well should give you a sales lift out of the gate.

Optional: If you have the budget, I suggest testing the new packaging with consumers using the latest eye tracking technology and comparing this to tests of your competitors packaging. In doing this, you will have some certainty that your product will gain market share.

Most new products fail due to poor marketing and packaging Ė follow these steps and you are on the best footing to succeed. I am happy to say Herbucha, the best kombucha ever, is selling like crazy and expanding distribution to new cities as we speak.  Good Luck!