Q&A with Staples’ New CMO, Michelle Bottomley

Starting a new job is never easy, but Michelle Bottomley is taking on the challenges and opportunities that come with being Staples’ new CMO. DMN asked the former chief marketing  and sales officer of Mercer and 2015 Hall of Femme honoree what she’s hoping to accomplish in her new role, what she expects her biggest challenge to be, and what advice she has for other new CMOs. 

1.  How does it feel to be the new CMO of Staples? 

It feels great to be part of the talented Staples team. Staples is a great American brand, the fifth largest e-commerce company in the U.S., with a team of associates committed to a fantastic customer experience and a B2B sales team engaged with the world’s best brands. I couldn’t be more excited to help Staples with the full power of branding, data, and digital to unlock its growth potential.

2. What do you hope to accomplish as the brand’s new CMO? Will you be working on both the B2B and B2C sides of the business? 

Staples offers so much more than office supplies. My goal is to have Staples be the “go-to source” for anything that powers the pros that power the workplace — whether that pro is sitting in a business or is a consumer, buying at retail or online.

3. What particular skills or experiences do you think make you best equipped for the role? 

Staples was looking for a seasoned marketer with “art and science” experience in brand building, data, and digital to drive revenue [while] working closely with a talented team of merchants, retail sales leaders, B2B sales leaders, technologists, supply chain management. Every role I’ve had has prepared me for this extraordinary opportunity as my career has focused on setting vision/strategy and rolling my sleeves up with a high-performance marketing team to deliver it.

4. What do you think will be your biggest challenge, and how do you intend to overcome it? 

My biggest challenge will be to focus on those few areas that will make the biggest difference to the customer and, therefore, our associates and business. I’m taking time now to come up to speed [and become] closest to the customer. Last week I was out with the delivery teams, in retail stores, and with our mid-market and enterprise sales teams. This week I’m shopping online and experiencing the call centers. Staying close to the customer experience and how we can make it simple and easy will ensure that marketing makes the biggest difference to the numbers. 

5. What kind of advice would you offer to other new CMOs in terms of leading marketing for a new brand? 

My advice for newly appointed CMOs is to go on a listening tour, looking for how the business works from a customer standpoint — the brand story, customer economics, customer satisfaction, customer needs/pain points — and [ensuring] the marketing, sales, delivery, and customer service are aligned for a great customer experience. Loyal, thriving customers are the lifeblood of every business. Ensuring that the go-to-market system is aligned to target customer needs is key to driving sustainable growth. Sounds basic. But whether we use powerful branding, data, or digital, targeted customer-centricity has proven to work as a growth strategy.

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