Chief Marketing Officer Onboarding Plan: Set up Your Brand for Success
"The first 100 days can make or break a tenure in the C-Suite", says Daniel Stewart, a leading executive coach. Therefore, the early days for a new C-Suite executive are "critical."
And it's no different for your new Chief Marketing Officer.
Your new Chief Marketing Officer will be a critical C-Suite member and play a pivotal role in your organization's branding, customer experience, and growth.
So giving them the best possible start is a must-do for your organization's success.
This article will guide you through a Chief Marketing Officer onboarding process that's effective and productive.
We'll help you establish your CMO's entry into your organization through a seamless and targeted approach.
We'll help them assert their potential as a high-impact leader who can make a meaningful difference to your organization's prospects.
✈️ Why is onboarding important for Chief Marketing Officers?
How you onboard your new employees impacts their experience from the outset.
Your new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is your most senior marketing executive, so an effective onboarding strategy is indispensable.
The benefits of proper onboarding include:
- Increased productivity and job satisfaction;
- Stronger knowledge retention and adoption of company culture;
- A better understanding of organizational priorities;
- A stronger sense of belonging with your organization.
There are high economic stakes associated with your new CMO hire.
So by onboarding them properly, you'll give them a strong start, motivate them, and support them in bringing their best to the role. You'll also reduce the risk of an early departure, which could expose your organization to disruptions and possible value destruction from an unfilled strategic C-Suite position.
⏰ How long is CMO onboarding?
Given their seniority, it's worth considering how long your new CMO's onboarding process should take. While we outline a 90-day schedule in this article which forms a solid start, research suggests that longer onboarding periods are beneficial.
Consider extending your CMO onboarding throughout their first year to:
- Encourage engagement beyond their first three months.
- Support them in building stronger relationships.
- Help them better understand your organization's culture and priorities.
👀 What does an effective CMO onboarding process look like?
As a C-Suite executive, your new CMO will want to make an early impact and demonstrate their value to your organization.
The best way to do this is by "really understanding your role and the expectations of your company," says Rob Collins, former CMO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Partner at MarketPro. "It's critical to know the metrics that you're going to be measured on, along with what authority and resources you have to carry out the mission."
"Building a rapport" with the CEO and board is essential, according to William Koleszar, CMO of American Family Care. This lets your new CMO have "candid conversations and truly understand their expectations."
Koleszar also highlights the value of getting to know the marketing team and engaging across the organization:
"I also suggest assessing your team, assessing what talent you have, and what their capabilities are ... more than any other role in the executive suite, [the CMO role] is about managing up, down, and sideways."
The first phase of onboarding is about logistics and hospitality: paperwork, access rights, documentation, and welcome messages.
Tip: Ensure your new CMO has access to the systems they need, has a smooth start on their first day, and feels welcomed into your organization.
➡️ Welcome your new hires with a smooth and stress-free first day using our seamless preboarding template.
The second phase involves introductions, engagement, and getting to know your organization's vision and values.
Your new CMO should meet key stakeholders:
- their team,
- the CEO,
- fellow C-Suite executives,
- other key partners.
You should also brief them thoroughly on your organization's objectives.
➡️ Don't forget to engage your new hires—here are 11 ways to engage new employees from day one.
3. Role-specific training
The next phase is more specific to your CMO's role:
- Define clear expectations and goals, including KPIs and metrics, available resources, and team management responsibilities.
- Describe your organization's marketing framework, strategies, and objectives.
- Encourage networking and arrange an onboarding buddy.
4. Ongoing development
The final stage is to support ongoing career growth and development by:
- Formulating a progressive development plan.
- Supporting knowledge sharing and industry engagement.
- Promoting engagement with other leaders in the C-Suite executive team within your organization and beyond.
Also, make your onboarding process more structured, comprehensive, and effective through automation.
Automating your onboarding process will create a better and more reliable onboarding experience for your new executives.
👀 See how our customers, Alasco and Storyblok, boosted their onboarding productivity and enhanced their onboarding experience (in-person and remote) through automation.
📝 CMO onboarding 30-60-90 day plan template
As a C-Suite executive, your new CMO's onboarding period is vital for setting them up at your organization.
Support them with a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan that:
- Establishes clear milestones and expectations.
- Gives them a comprehensive introduction to your organization's customers, markets, products and services, business model, history, culture, and value proposition.
Complete the necessary onboarding paperwork and administrative tasks:
✔️ Handle all onboarding documentation, including:
- Legal employment papers.
- Tax and compensation papers.
- Internal company documents, e.g., organizational charts, company policies and procedures, company vision statements, hybrid work arrangements, and leave entitlements.
✔️ Share role-specific information such as:
- your organization's marketing tools, systems and marketing data warehouse (if applicable);
- market segmentation approach;
- sales channels;
- bios of key people in sales and marketing roles;
- C-Suite backgrounds;
- support for professional memberships (e.g., The Chartered Institute of Marketing) or business school alumni programs.
✔️ Set up systems and hardware
- Order or set up their workstation and additional hardware (including phone, if applicable)
- Set up access to work premises and systems:
- marketing systems and software;
- tools tracking user activity;
- CRM dashboards and systems (e.g. using Google Analytics 4 for SEO tracking);
- content management systems (CMS) applications;
- customer survey and market research tools;
- multi-media production systems.
✔️ Prepare team orientation: Inform colleagues about your new CMO, schedule onboarding meetings, and encourage networking and engagement with key stakeholders, such as:
- Members of the marketing team;
- The Head of Sales and the sales team—a tight alignment between sales and marketing is crucial for avoiding potentially damaging rifts between these traditionally competitive business functions;
- Your organization's C-Suite;
- Key contacts at creative agency partners;
- Function heads of product, customer service and experience, IT, legal, and finance, amongst others.
✔️ Schedule public announcements: Consider issuing press releases in industry publications and, if relevant, notify regulatory authorities (e.g., SEC).
✔️ Plan the first week: Map out their first week to ensure a smooth process, covering both company onboarding activities and role-specific activities.
✔️ Gather and refresh content
Organize relevant materials, including:
- An onboarding presentation to introduce your organization and colleagues;
- Internal policies, systems training, and relevant procedures;
- Organizational priorities and growth objectives;
- Any handover notes from predecessors.
✔️Ensure that your organization's marketing framework is updated and well-documented:
- Scope and responsibilities of the marketing team;
- Customer base and segmentation;
- Marketing channels pursued, e.g., print, broadcast, digital, mobile;
- Kay partnerships, e.g., creative agencies;
- Information about current and recent campaigns;
- Market research process and related systems and analytics platforms.
Use preboarding to make an excellent first impression with your new CMO.
✔️ Send a welcome package: Include company merchandise or other thoughtful items.
Tip: Send them classic sales or marketing books such as Robert Caldini's Influence or David Ogilvy's Ogilvy On Advertising.
➡️ Need extra suggestions for welcome packages? Check out these ten welcome package ideas to inspire your new hire.
✔️ Send a welcome message to promote their engagement with your organization.
- Information about your organization's vision and purpose;
- Answers to commonly asked questions;
- Copies of press releases you've issued to help validate their decision to join your company.
✔️ Share the schedule for orientation events.
Here are some activities to make your new CMO feel welcome on their first day.
✔️ Ensure access: Follow through on providing access to the systems and hardware that they require.
After a welcoming start, use the first week to set up your new CMO for success.
✔️ Have 1:1 conversations: Discuss expectations and build rapport, filling any knowledge gaps along the way.
✔️ Ensure role clarity: Explain the responsibilities, tasks, processes, and goals that they'll be accountable for, including:
1. Key responsibilities. Here are some examples:
- manage the marketing team;
- drive your organization's marketing efforts;
- generate marketing ideas and strategies;
- work with key stakeholders;
- oversee market and customer segmentation research;
- supervise creative production activities;
- maintain an industry presence.
2. Key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are some examples:
- branded organic-search metrics;
- brand mentions across media channels;
- customer retention;
- growth rates;
- customer acquisition and value metrics;
- measures of campaign effectiveness;
- utilization of advertising budget;
- marketing channel conversion rates;
- effectiveness of customer segmentation.
3. Compliance and regulatory obligations associated with marketing content and campaigns.
4. Your organization's marketing process, e.g., identifying target markets and customer needs, evaluating products and services, assigning resources and setting the objectives for suitable marketing campaigns, and monitoring outcomes and success measures.
5. Describe in detail your organization's current marketing strategies:
- inbound marketing;
- sales funnel approach;
- digital marketing strategies.
This will help your new CMO consider how well your organization's marketing function is aligned with its goals and what changes, if any, are required.
- Content-heavy inbound marketing may be best served by a vertically integrated creative production team (i.e., writing, design, videos, promotions, etc.). This may call for adjustments to how your marketing function is organized.
- More fluid and adaptable marketing strategies may need a more flexible approach to marketing resources, such as through creative agency partners who can cater to rapidly evolving and changing marketing campaigns.
6. The responsibilities, processes, and expectations of team leaders in your organization.
✔️ Discuss an initial assignment: Commence a practical assignment, such as reviewing and assessing recent marketing campaigns.
✔️ Encourage networking: Set up meetings with colleagues and stakeholders, including in-person or virtual coffee and lunch roulettes, to strengthen relationships and promote engagement with key stakeholders.
First 30 days
Help your new CMO become more proficient in their role as they move beyond their first week and into their first month.
✔️ Frequently check-in—Use Slack, Teams, email, or in-person meetings to assist them while seeking feedback from their onboarding buddy.
✔️ Check progress—Discuss their KPIs and deliverables.
✔️ Seek feedback—Clarify their expectations, build rapport, and identify areas for improvement in the onboarding process.
➡️ Use our handy onboarding survey template for efficient and effective feedback from your new hire.
First 60 days
Continue supporting your new CMO into their second month.
✔️ Training and conferences: Address knowledge gaps through training and encourage networking through industry conferences.
✔️ Review and iteration: Reiterate the scope and purpose of their role and answer any outstanding questions.
✔️ Promote strategic thinking: Ask them for feedback on your organization's marketing function, their early impressions, and suggestions for future direction.
✔️ Feedback: Give your new CMO feedback to motivate them and help them focus on the most productive areas.
➡️ Need help giving feedback to your leaders? Consider which type of feedback is most helpful and discover 44 sample questions to evaluate your managers and executives.
First 90 days
By their third month, your new CMO should be working independently. Here are some ways you can help them progress further.
✔️ Recognizing their contribution—Acknowledge their contribution through recognition of their progress to date.
✔️Asking for more feedback: You can solicit updated feedback through a monthly pulse survey.
✔️ Conduct a probation period review to assess their capabilities and fit for their evolving role in your organization.
After the first 90 days
Take the opportunity to review and improve your organization's onboarding process by:
- Seeking feedback about your new CMO's experience through a final onboarding survey.
- Monitoring your onboarding metrics.
- Conducting a job satisfaction survey (or a remote work survey in case of remote positions).
➡️ If you need more help with onboarding, we have several practical and helpful onboarding templates that are ready to use.
➡️ Set up your new executives for success with Zavvy
How you onboard your new executives will lay the foundations for their success and underpin their impact on your organization.
At Zavvy, we know how to do onboarding properly.
Your new CMO will play a vital role in your organization. So don't let them down with incomplete or inadequate onboarding.
Instead, give all your new executives a consistent and dependable onboarding experience through automation and onboarding event scheduling.
Book a free demo to see how our onboarding tools and processes will set up your new executives for success through a targeted and effective approach.