Finding yourself at the helm of a legacy (or non-existent) marketing program can be daunting, not because you’re ill-equipped for the job but because, well, what are you going to do first?
While a large part of being CMO involves thinking about the big picture, there’s likely an expectation that you’re going to make some sort of positive impact right out of the gate.
Here are three concrete things you can do in your first 90 days that will not only improve short-term performance but also provide a solid foundation for a successful marketing program going forward.
1. Make Your Website Beautiful (And More Powerful)
The first thing you need to do is assess the condition of your current website. There are a number of different factors, including its age and hosting platform, that can have a significantly negative impact on key elements like search performance and customer experience.
Moreover, some platforms simply aren’t powerful enough to drive real success — or keep pace with your business as it expands and evolves.
For example, sites built on Wix and Squarespace are great for startups just getting off the ground, but they’re simply not equipped to be the sophisticated marketing engine you need to take your program to the next level.
There are a number of web-hosting platforms out there, but I always recommend WordPress because it’s customizable, expandable and, with the help of a good designer, it can be beautiful.
Not only will a custom WordPress site make an immediate impact in terms of improving your overall customer experience, but there are also a number of built-in features and compatible third-party plug-ins that can help with things like SEO, analytics, lead management and more.
2. Invest In An Exploratory Digital Ad Campaign
Across most industries, the bulk of the buyer’s journey is now taking place online. As such, you should assess the current state of affairs and, if necessary, reallocate your advertising budget so a healthy portion — if not the majority — is being funneled to digital channels.
That said, it’s important to try before you buy. The beauty of digital is you can run short-term, relatively low-cost campaigns to test the efficacy of a specific media platform or targeting tactic before you scale up your spend.
Try as many different approaches as possible: list-based Facebook and LinkedIn ads, display retargeting, search retargeting and more.
You may not see the return on investment right away, but as long as you stick to your exploratory budget, losses will be minimal and the long-term value of understanding which media buys are most effective are well worth the upfront investment.
Remember that it usually takes some time to get a reliable picture of how a particular ad type or targeting approach is performing. If you’re compulsively checking performance metrics on an hourly or daily basis, you may as well be trying to read the tea leaves. Set your budget and focus on other tasks (I’m sure you have plenty of things to do) until a clear picture has time to emerge.
3. Start Making Noise
One of the most common issues I see among marketing programs that are struggling to perform is a general lack of output.
The internet is an incredibly loud, hectic and competitive place. If you’re just sitting there not making any noise, I promise you no one is going to know you exist.
Start regularly publishing content across as many different channels as possible — that means blogging, posting on social media and contributing articles to third-party publications. The more you put out there, the better chance you have of being seen.
Of course, it’s not just about output; the quality needs to be there as well. Today’s consumers expect a lot when it comes to online experiences. That means in addition to being compelling, useful and intelligent, your content also needs to be beautiful.
While this might sound like a lot for your first few months on the job, immediately establishing a solid foundation for your new marketing program will play a key role in its long-term impact on the organization. It should, therefore, be your No. 1 priority.
In my experience, making smart decisions — not just easy ones — is ultimately the quickest path to success.
Note: This article originally appeared under the title “Three Ways You Can Make An Immediate Impact On Your Company As CMO” on Forbes.com on Dec. 28, 2018.
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