One of the most complex aspects of the CMO role is choosing the right outside partners to work with on marketing initiatives. CMOs vet and hire PR firms, communications firms, design firms, advertising firms, digital firms and a host of other providers who do everything from web analytics to social media strategy.
But how can you ensure you’re getting the right folks for the job, before they’ve actually done the job? How do you assess their performance before they’ve, well, performed? References are one thing, but vendors can easily choose to skip over unhappy customers to provide glowing references.
This was the dilemma that led The CMO Club’s Peter Krainik to launch a new service for club members: a vendor review forum where CMOs can give honest, unvarnished reviews of the kinds of companies they hire most often, from marketing automation services to creative agencies.
Krainik believes that CMO Club Vendor Ratings offer a unique kind of reassurance and support to his members because “no recommendation is more valuable than those from peers.” The theory seems to be that a credible voice is the best voice when big budgets are on the line.
Only CMO Club members can contribute reviews, and while Krainak mentioned that “best in class” companies might be named publicly, most of the reviews would be kept private to membership.
Ultimately, the service, and The CMO Club itself, offers something most executives have trouble finding: the opportunity to interact with people who occupy similar roles to their own, and who face similar pressures.
Using the web –where always-on CMOs spend much of their time –to make those connections happen adds another layer of ease and convenience that could lead to significant adoption.
However, knowing the natural competition between some companies, I can also see concerns developing about the honesty of the reviews and the extent to which CMOs choose to reveal their experiences, given the reality of proprietary marketing strategies and campaigns.
The reviews also don’t speak to the impact company culture and personality might have on the success of a vendor relationship. In other words, what one CMO might find frustrating may make a service provider a perfect fit for another CMO.
It’s too soon to tell how successful The CMO Club will be in making partnering decisions easier for CMOs, but as with all the other review sites on the internet today, the initiative offers a bit of a catch-22 proposition: Reviews will promote accountability on the part of the vendors—but also introduce the risk of unfair or biased commentary.
Regardless, it’s encouraging to see another example of the collaborative nature of the web providing the foundation for a potentially very helpful resource.
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