CMO Confessions Ep. 12: Monique Elliott, CMO of ABB

Hello and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, a bi-weekly podcast featuring the best and the brightest minds that sales and marketing have to offer. This week, we have Monique Elliott, CMO of ABB, Electrification Product.

Monique made her mark at General Electric, where she started as a Commercial Excellence Manager and worked her way up to CMO of GE Industrial Solutions. Today, she focuses on driving digital customer experiences and driving new innovations to bridge the in-person and digital gap.

In this episode, Monique discusses how she approaches today’s buzzword du jour, digital transformation, what that means for the industrial space and how she and her marketing team are re-inventing digital customer experience by divvying responsibilities up. It’s a great episode for any organization or marketing lead concerning themselves with driving better customer experiences.

Finally, as usual, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:                   

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from the Greater New York area, I think I’m using that somewhat liberally, is Monique Elliott, CMO of ABB. Monique, how you doing?

 

Monique Elliott:           

I’m doing well. Thanks for the invitation today.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, so excited that you’re here. I really appreciate it. All right, well, let’s just jump right in. So before running global marketing at ABB, which I think you’ve been doing for about the past half year, you’ve held a pretty wide range of marketing leadership roles previously at GE. And I would love to hear you talk about, I guess we’ll go positive, but we’ll start on what might be some, some frustrations. I’d love to hear about what is driving you crazy as a B2B marketer today.

 

Monique Elliott:            

Sure, absolutely. And just to kind of give some context too, for my role. So I currently lead marketing for one of the divisions of ABB, it’s called the electrification products, the industrial solutions BU, which to your point, was the division that was purchased recently from GE by ABB. So I now find myself in the ABB family, but have been in the marketing space for quite some time, pretty much my entire 18 years or so, 19 years. In business, the last 15 being with GE, and in a variety of different marketing. So, on the strategic side, I’m on the tactical side, on the digital marketing space and I think, you know, to kind of get to your question, what has frustrated me the most or what’s been the most challenging is that being in a B2B space, I think us as marketers like to make it more complicated than it needs to be. And you’ll often hear people say, well, we’re in B2B, so it’s harder or it’s different if only we were in the B2C space. If only this was retail, all of this would be a lot easier and I sometimes I think it really, that’s a little bit of we do it to ourselves and that’s a challenge and that’s really difficult to operate in that space where you’re constantly thinking, you’re waking up every day thinking this is so much harder than it really needs to be.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

I think that’s a great point. So I hear the same thing by the way that B2B is so much different than on the consumer side. Obviously, it’s true, we’re going after a different buyer, the business buyer. But I’m at the end of the day, great marketing is persuasion, right? And, and hopefully delivering a solution for some sort of a problem or challenge someone has. That doesn’t change. I mean, I think whether you’re marketing a consumer packaged goods or you’re selling… By the way, I wasn’t even going to attempt to pronounce or describe your area of expertise at ABB and previously at GE. But at the end of the day, I mean, what we’re marketing to people, right? That doesn’t, these aren’t buildings that we’re marketing to.

 

Monique Elliott:            

I absolutely agree and I think we find ourselves saying that a lot that we might be in a B2B space, but we’re still marketing to B2C people are at the end of the day and I think that the tenets of marketing, the sub-functions, the pillars of marketing are applicable across industry, applicable across market and it’s maybe, it certainly is different with how you implement and how you may go after. I’m the type of marketing that you’re looking to embed into an organization. But I think as marketers, the basic tenets still stay the same. And if you stay true to that and you understand the problems that you’re solving for your customer whoever your customer may be, it doesn’t have to be complicated. That is different, right? Things can be hard, but it shouldn’t be complicated.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah. No, you’re right. Yeah, that’s a great topic. You over-complication of marketing. I think we perhaps make it more complex than it needs to be. It’s a, I get every once a while I’ll get asked what your, you just made me think of this, “what’s your marketing strategy?” As if there’s a one size fits all solution for someone’s marketing strategy. And I said, well, it’s marketing is problem solving, right? Like it even might be a might be a formula or a process through which you adhere to or you follow, but at the end of the day, your marketing strategy needs to be unique given the market that you’re in. My marketing strategy is probably pretty wildly different than, than yours because our markets are so different, right? Um, but you’re right, there’s still the same marketing principles or tenets.

 

Monique Elliott:            

You know, and I also find that you bring up kind of what’s your marketing strategy, I think sometimes us as marketers, we also get caught up that that strategy needs to be different every year. Because that really goes through the normal budgeting process, the whole cycle around, “So what are our goals and objectives for the year?” And I find that really great companies and really great marketers, they don’t vary year to year necessarily on their strategy. Now, how you execute within that strategy and the tactics that you take can certainly change. But having a strategy that changes every 12 months, can lead to a very erratic company culture. And so oftentimes if you have to, and we do this for ourselves, you have to stop yourself and say, am I really changing my strategy or am I simply changing the way that I’m going about executing that strategy? So that’s kind of another, maybe that’s another way to answer, you know, what, what can be frustrating about B2B marketing or just marketing in general? You don’t necessarily have to change that strategy every 12 months.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

I have to say it’s even worse out here in the bay area because I think the new tactic is really technology, meaning that we’ve all had those conversations where you talk to someone about their marketing, you know, hey, what’s your strategy? What are you trying to accomplish? And they list out a whole bunch of tactics. They do, I’m updating my website, we’re going to send this many emails, we’re going to have this many webinars. It’s like, no, like, what’s your, what’s your strategy? I’m finding that the marketing tech stack is, is almost like the new list of tactics. So I have so many conversations with marketers that just list out the 15 or 20 pieces of technology that they put into place and that they know that this grouping of technology will be their marketing strategy and execution all bundled up into one.

 

Monique Elliott:            

It’s interesting that you bring that up. I was having a conversation last week with some of the sales leaders for the business and one of the things that we were talking about, and this is kind of in the, in the area of customer experience, especially with online selling and bringing that, you know, kind of like that ecommerce lens to the B2B space that we’re in. And I said we do have to caution ourselves that the conversations don’t automatically go to technology because there’s the processes and the people are actually what make and break a really winning solution when it comes to online and the ecommerce space. Because technology cannot change a broken process and it certainly can’t win over someone’s hearts and minds if they don’t understand what you’re trying to do. And so what I was talking to the team about is we need to make sure before we embark on any of these journeys that we understand the underlying processes and that we make sure that we have the people on board and that change management process is just as critical, if not more than the technology itself. Because technology is not going to fix that broken process for you gotta fix that first. So it’s interesting and I agree with you because it’s so cool. All the technology that’s coming out in marketing and in the space, it’s very cool. And you want to gravitate to it as, that’s your strategy, but the reality is that’s only a portion of it and you got to remember the people in the process part as well.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, I love that you said winning hearts and minds because, I don’t know, I feel like at the end of the day, great marketing is inspiring and people if you’re doing it right, people have a good feeling when they’re engaging with your company and your marketing. And yeah, it is certainly not all — and this comes from a technologist — but it is not all about the technology. You’ll fail if you…or certainly be very frustrated if you just, you know, try to take on a ton of new tech and that will in no way solve all your problems. Um, because you’re right, it’s all about having the right process and having the right infrastructure so that you can actually scale your marketing strategy, right? You know, just throwing in four or five pieces of technology will not, will not solve it for, for anyone. Least. That’s my experience.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

The other thing, I think the other thing I think is interesting is, um, , in, , what’s old is new., So everyone, everyone’s talking about ABM and, of course, account based marketing and there’s, there’s technology, some of which we’ll use that, that can help with that going to help scale it at least. But at the end of the day, I find this somewhat humorous, because account-based marketing is not new. I remember. So I’ve been in marketing for almost 20 years. It sounds like just about the same amount of time you’ve been in it. And you know, personalized marketing is the holy Grail, right? It’s what we’re, this is what we’ve been trying to do that well for, for two decades. And I haven’t necessarily done it well, but I’m scaling. That can be difficult. But that is the challenge that we have as marketers is “how do we deliver a highly customized, personalized message?” And yeah, it’s hard to do it to, you know, thousands or millions of people, but that’s not like this is a new construct.

 

Monique Elliott:            

So this makes me chuckle a little bit. So it was at a conference last week. I was chairing a digital marketing conference and , the one of the topics that we had, one of the sessions that I lead with all around buzzwords and it was really, it was a really fun session and it was all marketers. You know, senior executives in the room, marketing executives. And the construct of this session was not that buzzwords are bad because sometimes you tend to use, oh, that’s a buzzword and you get a negative connotation. But what it was about was kind of like dissecting the top 10 buzzwords for marketing right now and just almost playing a game around the cable. Does. Everyone at this table had the same definition of this buzzword? And it’s not like your, what is your designation? And what it really did is it highlighted, first of all, we have fun with it because it’s sometimes it’s okay to be self deprecating as marketers, but it highlighted that, you know, sometimes you may be talking to someone and you may be saying account based marketing and they’re saying account based marketing, but at the end of the day you’re actually talking about two different things and they were the top 10 were the ones that you would expect for personalization, customer journey, digital transformation, which is my absolute favorite.

 

Monique Elliott:            

Again, they’re not Bad, right? But it was just this concept of, you know, these words have been around for awhile and they kind of cycle through and maybe every time to your point, what’s old is new when they cycle through though they don’t necessarily need the same thing anymore. And how do you just make sure that when you’re a marketer and you’re talking to someone particularly Someone who’s not a marketer but you’re clearly articulating and you have the same definition. Because that goes back to getting that buy in, in order to be successful. And in order for marketing to really give marketing the credibility that it deserves. So we had a fun time with abm was one of the ones that came up by the way.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

That sounds fun. I, I love that. It doesn’t surprise me by the way that the definitions were kind of ran the gamut and were so different. I think a lot of people, not necessarily just marketers, think these are things are completely new things that marketers haven’t ever been doing, even though some of the technology might be new, but, you know, marketing having a specific message or a personalized message is not like that just came about in 2015 or something.

 

Monique Elliott:            

Great.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, so that happened too. That happened to us, I don’t know, maybe a year and a half ago, one of our sales directors, came to me and could just come from, I don’t know if he was at Marketos conference — that it was at a marketing technology conference and said, “Joe, there’s this new hot thing called ABM. I think we need an ABM strategy.” And I said, “Well, we, we had one for the last two years and maybe maybe it’s not working as well as we’d like, but this is not as easy as just implementing a piece of technology.”

 

Monique Elliott:            

Right, right. Well, I got a little chuckle out of you too with the digital transformation one because that’s my personal favorite and I’m guilty as anyone because everyone’s going through a digital transformation, but I always joke, I’m like, “So when do you start transforming and just start doing? Yeah, so that we had a, we had a good laugh with that one as well, especially if, you know, the speaker after me, I’m pretty sure her abstract was how to digitally transform your business. No disrespect really.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

That’s really funny. Well, probably everyone after the buzzword roundtable, probably every session, the speaker felt guilty of using some sort of a buzzword in their presentation.

 

Monique Elliott:            

Well, they’re not bad.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah. No, I mean it buzzwords not as we do need terms for this. Right. Well, let’s talk. Let’s talk digital transformation because I feel like this one’s kind of jumped the shark. Particularly in your space, or spaces that are well established. Is this the hottest thing, or the hottest topic or Buzzword in your space? Because you’re in more of a, you have more of a technical audience, right? This is not a technology that just came out five years ago, right? I mean this is a pretty established space, which is exciting. But as digital transformation, all anyone talks about.

 

Monique Elliott:           

It is certainly top of mind. And this is where, you know, the definition is important because you can, you can talk about digital in a variety of different ways, especially in B2B space with a more mature manufacturing history and customer base. So there’s one aspect of it that has to do with digital solutions. So think of it more of software solutions or its solution. So how do you couple your technology, your hardware technology with also a digital offering.

 

So that is more of a digital as it relates to product, a digital product development, then there’s the other side of digital, where I play, and that’s more on the digital customer experience. So how are you now digitally touching customers that you would have touched before and more an analog manner or kind of a brick and mortar go to market strategy. So this is, you started touching upon things like digital marketing and ecommerce, you know, not only can I touch my customer digitally now with communication and demand generation, but can I also encourage them to buy some of these products online? So I think when you use the word digital, it kind of depends on who you’re talking to. If you’re talking about it from a product solution offering or are you talking about it more from a customer experience lens? I can tell you in my world today, it’s both, it’s equally important, but it is two different animals. At the end of the day requires different skill sets for how you develop this offering.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, this is fascinating. So, my interpretation of what you just said, because obviously, we’re in, as I said, we’re in wildly different fields even though we’re both marketers, is the first category is GE used to produce the light bulb, just the light bulb, not as if that’s a bad thing, And they wanted to aspire to produce the software that could control the lighting system, right? Is that, is that what you mean for the digital product development?

 

Monique Elliott:            

Right, right. So lightbulbs are a good example. You can also say like, so now in the world of ABB, so you have circuit breakers or other types of electrical distribution equipment and how are you making them more intelligent and you’re connecting them like the whole Internet of things and you know, can you have planned outages and how do you make that piece of equipment more predictive, understand its maintenance cycles, how do you make that piece of hardware smarter and more connected to everything around it? So you’re right, it could be a light bulb, it could be a Ketogenic, it could be a piece of electrical equipment. No.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, that’s cool and then the second example is probably a little more easy to understand for our audience, you know, just taking a traditional brick and mortar experiencing and turning it into a digital experience.

 

Monique Elliott:            

That was it for me too, right? I mean that’s where I live from a marketing standpoint is how do you make that experience now more alive? More like you would expect if you are a consumer.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah. Well, let’s, let’s talk about that because I think this is fascinating. What are you, I guess, how is that, how’s that going? What’s, do you have — without entering the buzzword game ourselves — do you have particular things that are, are working quite well? I mean, how is, how are you transforming the digital experience for your marketers and marketing?

 

Monique Elliott:            

So, one of the things that we did to help us evolve that traditional marketing strategy or that traditional marketing team even is to organize ourselves a little bit different than we had done in the past. And so, the way that my team is structured today is there’s a digital marketing arm. So this, this arm is responsible for the actual, um, the technology stack, right? So the marketing automation around it, you know, how are we going to put campaigns out, what is that, what, how does the website content also marrying up with what we have in our digital campaign. So I have a digital marketing team and then we have something that’s really different around customer experience and it’s different for us. It’s, this kind of goes back to, you know, you, you’ve seen this structure and other organizations that are a little bit more mature in digital customer experience, but recently, earlier this year we stood up a team that was customer engagement and this team is really now thinking about how we used to engage with our customers at trade shows or at company hosted events and how are we now trying to touch them all digital. So whether that’s partnerships with some of the magazines that we work with to create these digital culdesac and we’re trying to create these communities of our customers to bring them more online. How are we also offering things like print on demand, not only for our sales people but for customers as well. So we have this digital engagement team now that’s looking at new and creative ways to engage with our customers online. And then we have our ecommerce pillar which has been looking at that kind of, that lower funnel part of the journey around how do you then purchase from us.

 

Monique Elliott:            

And so, and these are these three pillars that really make up the digital customer experience part of the team. Of course, there’s the traditional part of the team around strategic marketing and market intelligence. And, and that field marketing, but we have these other three pillars now that are really trying to evolve the way that we, that we are looking at marketing. I have one other piece that’s worth mentioning. That is all around the Demand Generation, and this is a really interesting part of the team, and what they’re responsible for is creating that demand generation engine. So whether it’s the campaign or it’s the trade sho but there then tracking the way that these activities flow through the point to see what’s the, what’s the result? So can we show the ROI now on all of these marketing activities that are going on. So it’s really great and, I have to say, it’s certainly not my team. It has truly, this was like a team, a team of teams in order to be successful in this space

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Well, when you’re talking about customer experience to subcategories that digital called the digital cul-de-sacs. I’ve actually never heard that. I love that. And the other thing that jumps out to me, which is kind of interesting at our team, is obviously it’s been more wildly different companies and you guys are a little bit bigger than ON24. Actually. The team structure is not wildly different. It’s pretty similar. I was, I wasn’t sure if you had demand gen broken out separately for that was underneath the digital marketing arm. So it was interesting that, it’s actually its own group within the larger team.

 

Monique Elliott:           

Yeah, it is and, from a legacy perspective, that team historically was referred to as sales marketing. They did, what they were responsible for was kind of more what I would say demand generation locally and we turn it on its head a little bit and started referring to it as demand generation. Which, to be honest, you know, we needed to do some education, too, around kind of when you, when you change the name of that, what does that mean? You know, does the scope really change and how do you get people’s heads around that?

 

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you went right to where I was about to go. Do your field events, or traditionally more, in-person events, are these integrated with your digital experiences? Or do you look at them as very separate campaigns and objectives?

 

Monique Elliott:           

It’s a good question and certainly, they need to all be considered one experience. And so what we’re trying to do a better job at, and this is truly, this is a newer journey for us, but as you, let’s say you have an in person event coming up, we want to make sure that that digital experience leading up to the event is harmonized. And so whether it’s a campaign that goes out that invites people or you’re trying to drum up that activity all the way to reminders leading up to the event and then when you’re at the event. If it is an event where you could have a digital experience. So maybe it’s you’re showcasing a product and you want to have a video present or some kind of user experience digitally at the event, we would love to do that.

 

Monique Elliott:            

And then of course, the follow up after that, making sure that you have the digital campaigns following the event to make sure that you’re doing follow ups and here’s the information you requested. It should all be considered, and it is considered, what I would say one campaign, but you may have different activities leading up to that and you have to be able to connect them and track them. And that’s that responsibility of the demand generation team to attribute to say that, you know, this campaign is linked to this particular event and so that you can have that total wing to wing metric around how well did we do with this particular campaign.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

And you described that pretty succinctly and quite well the infrastructure and operations required to do that. Well, are pretty complicated.

 

Monique Elliott:           

It really is. It really is. And, you know, we’re trying to integrate some different technologies to help us with that. Of course, you know, CRM system being the backbone of all of that, but it’s not easy. And I mean, we started down this whole journey a couple years ago and it was really just this year where we’re able to now see the benefit of having it connected, where you can say, you know, this particular event that we did, we had campaigns leading up to it and then post, you know, here’s what we saw come out of that. Whether that’s a lead, an order, an actual book deal that is, it’s very difficult to get that wing to wing. I’ll be the first one to say it’s, are not perfect at it. And it’s hard.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

Yeah, you and anyone else? I mean, obviously the more complex the marketing engine, the harder it is attribution and multi touch attribution is. And there’s, there’s no perfect formula. It’s like any model really, a lot of the results can be manipulated by how you kind of assume or what assumptions you make are what credit you give to things. Right. That is a bit of a messy spiderweb. I like what you were talking about with customer experience. I think this is an area for is an area I’m excited about. I think this is an area that I think most marketers can, can get excited about or should be excited about, is trying to produce a real world class cohesive customer experience.

 

Joe Hyland:                   

So all the way through from before someone’s your customer through those early touchpoints, whether it’s your website or a campaign or a physical event all the way through to being your customer for a decade or longer. And I think, I guess the reason I find this exciting, and I’d love to get your take on it, I think a lot of marketers have left much of that journey to other groups and said, “Hey, once someone becomes a customer and I’ll, you know, our job is done and that’s over to, you know, the client services team or a in, you know, we, we don’t need to control that.” And I think more and more, at least in the software world, I think it’s really important to not have that mindset and say, “No, this is, if we were going to be with them for a very long time and we want it to be a cohesive journey and it shouldn’t feel like you’re leaving one part of our company and entering another.” And I don’t know if you have a similar viewpoint in your space or if it becomes much trickier given, given the audience and the and the products you guys deliver.

 

Monique Elliott:           

I’m passionate about it as well. And I really like where I see marketing heading in the whole evolution of the function. And I think what you’re hitting on is why we’re seeing the rise of these customer experience teams and the chief customer experience officer or the global head of customer experience is because I believe that there is now kind of an awakening around, it’s not good enough to have your, you know, kind of like your upper funnel marketing team then handed off to sales, then handing it off to operations then, you know, to customer service and post sale service. And what you’ll have is because when it’s siloed you very well could have very different experiences, right? Or really strong marketing team and maybe not such strong customer service ‚ or vice versa. And so I think this is why we’re now seeing the rise of these customer experience organizations.

 

And it’s not that one team has to do it all because that’s absolutely not what I’m saying And I think that that’s the wrong approach. But what it is, is to have an awareness to have at least a group of people who are now looking at the experience across those silos and across the different functions and ensuring that the connection is there and ensuring that the experience is the same to your point if it’s relevant and it’s harmonized. And so it’s often a debate that I get into, into some marketers with, well is it about all of a sudden these massive customer experience teams taking on all this work? And I said no, but it’s about having now some governance in an organization or a body of people that can just look across to make sure that there aren’t breakdowns and to make sure that you, that you do have that same feel across any point of your customer’s journey. And that excites me because I do think that that isn’t an area where marketing can evolve. So you can, you can evolve as a marketer into more of a customer experience organization. And I think that’s great.

 

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree any more. The one, the one entity or group that suffers if you put your company first and you have a disjointed experience from going from one group to another is the customer. And at the end of the day, that’s kind of the one thing that we should make sure that we hold sacred and dear. I think you’re right, I think that’s a brilliant point. It’s not that marketers the shouldn’t be a land grab, it’s not that marketing needs to own that or it needs to. And let’s face it that that’s kind of an impossible task for one group to own the whole thing, but you’re right, there does need to be some sort of a corporate governance for what that experience is like. And, and if so, I think that’s a, isn’t that a wonderful thing for the customer experience, which is what this is all about.

 

Monique Elliott:           

Yeah, I love it. I’m excited to see more companies and I’m excited to see more marketers really embrace this whole notion of really customer experience. And you know, maybe this will also help marketing as a function because oftentimes marketers a little bit of a bad rap and spend a lot of money and always looking for more budget. And what do you kind of get out of it? I mean, I know that as a marketer that’s what we face into every day and so this whole evolution to customer experience I think is really good for the function.

 

Joe Hyland:  

Yeah, I agree. And I’ll just add that if marketers can tie themselves to the customer and, in some parts to, to revenue, I think that is how you shake the old stigma of marketing, just being the, you know, the people that make it look pretty, right? So, well I said half an hour would fly by. It has. This was fantastic. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining. I really appreciate the time.

 

Monique Elliott:

Oh my pleasure. I had a great time. I really enjoyed the conversation and anything we can do to help our fellow marketers and to help all be successful in this space, I’m always happy to take the time

 

CMO Confessions Ep 11.: SAP’s Kevin Cochrane

Hi everyone and welcome to episode 11 of CMO Confessions. In this edition, I sit down and chat with Kevin Cochrane, CMO of SAP Customer Experience and C/4HANA. Kevin has an almost religious devotion to identifying customer pain points and delivering a great customer experience — and he does so in an almost unique way in today’s age: by sitting down and actually talking with customers.

Kevin’s CMO journey started when he joined Interwoven as the VP of Web Content Management. From there, he wound his way to Alfresco, Software AG and all the way to SAP.  In this episode of CMO Confessions, we dive into what Kevin thinks of today’s marketing landscape, what’s missing in our journey to become more customer-centric and it’s so critical to slow down and ask better questions.

If you’re curious about what Kevin has to say about the state of our industry, you can follow him on Twitter at @kevinc2003 and on LinkedIn here.

Finally, as usual, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello, and I want to welcome you to this week’s episode of CMO confessions the weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Highland CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from Miami, while I’m in San Francisco, is Kevin Cochrane, CMO of SAP Customer Experience. Kevin, how are you doing?

Kevin Cochrane:  I’m doing a great, Joe, great to speak with you today.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. Okay, Let’s dive right into digital marketing, marketing in general. What do you love about we what we do?

Kevin Cochrane: Well, there’s three things. I love about what we do. Number one, I love being able to make the human connection. At the end of the day, what we as marketers do is we uncover our customers intent; what are their hopes their dreams their aspirations, and how can we effectively engage them in order to help them understand how our companies and our products and our services can help them? So, I love making that human connection. The second thing is I love building teams of people to inspire them to, in turn, learn from customers and how to listen and how to engage.

There’s nothing so much more wonderful than actually seeing a whole team of marketers being able to speak about the customers, speak about their needs and, again, engage them in that one-to-one way so that they can best represent our brands and best deliver value to the customer. There’s nothing more exciting and much more pleasing than that.  The third thing is that intellectually speaking marketing the most fascinating place to be right now and it has been for quite a long period of time. The Innovation that’s happening around data, data science and around customer engagement fundamentally challenges each and every one of us in very unique and interesting ways each and every day. So that intellectual challenge, that intellectual rigor, you know, suddenly just makes marketing just so exciting for me personally and hopefully for everyone listening here to this podcast.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, and I love that answer because — and I’ll start with number three there — for me marketing’s about solving problems and for me that’s what makes it fun and challenging and interesting and it’s constantly changing. So yeah, the intellectual rigor for me is honestly one of the coolest things. You talk about human connections, and I love that because, as marketers, finding ways to engage with our audience — I mean that’s the Holy Grail, right? That’s what we should be fantastic at.

But I want to get your take on scale. So, scale is real, scale is very much a challenge that we all have and what I’m finding or what I’m seeing in the space, which is I think particularly interesting is. Marketers automating everything that is humanly possible, even down to the email copy that we write — could have robots write it and in many cases they are. So, I feel like we’re winning in the automation game which is which is great, don’t get me wrong. There are tremendous benefits there. But I feel like there’s a human connection that is lost with all this digital automation. I would love to get your take on that.

Kevin Cochrane: Yeah, I completely agree, and I’ll start off with, and hopefully you don’t mind me sharing our conversation that we started off even before we get began the podcast. You and I have a shared experience as we learned about — we both ran a marathon in Zermatt two months ago, and we had a great time speaking about that for 10 minutes.  We’re actually real people you’re a real person. I’m a real person. And outside the context of our work lives and this particular podcast, there are things that we share in common that our interests that can help us actually form a relationship with one another that can facilitate our professional dialogue and to facilitate growth and both of our businesses. And as marketers, we have actually to remember that.

I think we’ve got too far in the shift from brand marketing to demand marketing and we become inundated with data, we become inundated with automation, and we stop actually thinking about who was the actual end person at the end of the email — who is the actual end customer? Who are they really as a real person? And what are the unique things that make them a unique individual that are not just a segment? You know, I love the famous quote from Six Degrees of Separation, Stockard Channing, favorite of mine, of course saying, “I am not an anecdote.” Well, I’m not a segment, right? I’m actually a very unique person as are you. And I think as marketers we need to get back to understanding and relating to our real customers.  I tend to challenge people on my team in a very simple way. When was the last time you spoke with the customer? When was the last time you spoke with the customer? When we’re talking about this campaign, and we’re talking about automated, because automation is very important, you have to automate course, can you speak about it in the context of a real customer that you have met, that you have spoken to that you can envision in your mind when you’re building that next nurture program, when you’re building that next email copy? Because if you can’t envision the customer and you can’t think about a real human being then you could go awry and that’s where I like to challenge people on my own team and hopefully in the broader industry as well.  At the end of the day, we need to leverage the data. We need to leverage the science, and you need to use it to uncover each individual’s intent, and we need to automate the prescriptive delivery of content experience and services matched against that end to the best extent possible to scale. But never ever, ever should a marketer ever forget of what a real customer a real customer conversation looks like.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Amen. I couldn’t agree with you anymore. And it’s interesting, right? That mixture of human connection with the amazing breadth and depth of data — and you’re right, automation is not a bad thing in any marketer who tries to run away from it, I think, would risk be kind of becoming yesterday’s marketer, but it’s the mixture of those two things, right? Where you can do something really special.

Kevin Cochrane: That’s the one hundred percent right? I have seen in my career too many times someone who’s an absolute wizard in the martech stack put together beautiful theoretical nurture program against beautiful theoretical segments and then you just simply ask the question, “When was the last time you’ve met a customer?” And it’s never.  As marketers remember, we’re trying to form an emotional connection with people and the reason why we want that emotional connection is because the less people have that emotional connection they’re actually literally not going to act, they’re not going to purchase. Because all of the theoretical research shows the end of the day, you can do all of your online research, and you can use as much at your rational brain as possible.

But the moment that you click the buy, the moment that you actually sign up for that webinar, the moment that you actually agree to that meeting with that sales rep , the moment that you signed on the contract, all the rational side of your brain turns out, and it’s a complete emotional response and the emotional responses based on whatever feeling that you have about that brand based on how an individual made you feel, right? The sales rep. How do they make you feel? The inside sales person? Did they make you feel special? That marketer at the event? Did they make you feel special? If you didn’t do that that emotional side of the brain doesn’t kick in and people don’t actually really truly convert to revenue, and so, as a marketer, at the end of the day, never forget like the less, you know the customer and speak to the customer you won’t know what that emotional connection you’re trying to get — even when you’re automating things. It’s so critically important, and this is why, and it will probably get to this little bit later, some of the things that we need to start doing differently and B2B marketing.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, so I love the intersection of marketing and politics. I find the movement of the why and how you inspire people and how pulling at emotional heartstrings ultimately makes people make certain decisions. You don’t need to look that much further than the last presidential election to see that. The polls were off because people enter, regardless of how you feel politically, I could talk for hours on that just alone, but I won’t, but people went in, and for whatever reason they changed their mind they had this gut feeling — and in your right, we as we as marketers can learn from that.

How many times have we been in a room where you know, there’s a beautiful model and everything lines up perfectly on a spreadsheet for how we’re going to attack a new market in gain a certain percent adoption and is dozens or hundreds of millions of dollars and no one’s asked the question of why would someone actually do this? Like, what’s in it for the end user? Which is insane. But but that happens all too often.

Kevin Cochrane: But this is also the shift from inside-out thinking to outside in thinking. This is the shift and customer centricity and marketing which is get to the core pain that the individual fields and find a means and mechanism through your campaign efforts to surface that pain and help give voice to that pain and clarify what the implications of that pain are to the person so that they say, “God, you get me. You understand me, and you’re really hitting me where it hurts right now, and you can actually speak to my pain better than I can.” And then they trust you to do something about it.  And the intersection of marketing and politics is a fascinating one.

For many, many years I’ve actually believed good B2B campaigns need to be modeled like a political campaign. Because political campaign serves as a template for how you can do proper a B2B marketing. So, yeah, I couldn’t agree with more, and we definitely are going to have to go on a long run time sometime to talk about that egg.  Because there’s a profound implication and, much like yourself, I actually watched the last election season and prior election season as well and just look at it from the perspective of the marketing tactics, the language used, the way events are choreographed absolutely brilliant absolutely fascinating. There’s lessons and models to be learned for effective conveyance of emotions to get people to act for political campaigns — couldn’t agree more.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, so let’s dive into what you alluded to a moment ago. We’ve touched on some of the things, but what needs to change. So we talked about what we what we both love. Let’s move into the what disappoints us in our in our world these days.

Kevin Cochrane: Yeah, so I mean, I think there are three things in B2B marketing that kind of needs change. Number one, is I think in the shift to digital and the shift to become more, you know B2C centric, essentially, and how we drove our B2B marketing efforts, we’ve lost the inherent qualities of what made B2B different, which is a relationship affecting the human aspect and we’ve oversteered our investment in digital channels and we’re not making effective use of in-person meetings, in-person events and tying those two broader digital efforts — specifically around online communities.

Good B2B marketing still puts at its core, and its nucleus, the one-on-one physical engagement people look eye to eye with one another and having a real conversation. And I think that we have started to forget that. And events are always this thing over here, and then your campaigns are things over here, and more money is going over here because we can analyze it and report on it and we can actually document the attribution of it much more effectively than the random influence of we can do an event. We’ve got to be careful that we’re overcorrecting we can’t overcorrect.  The second thing is we’re not really thinking about the employee experience that powers that end customer experience. There are so many people that interact with the customer and that build upon and maintain the relationship that marketing may start. And as marketers, we need to take under our wing our sales professionals, our customer success professionals, our service professionals, our support professionals and we need to train them in the art of conversation. We need to train them how the how to continue the dialogue that we begin with the customer to make certain that at every point of interaction for the salesperson, the service person the support person that they are in effect growing and nurturing that relationship.

I think as marketers, we tend to stop our jobs after we hand over to our inside sales teams for we hand over to our AES and we don’t think holistically about how does that person in the customer success organization? Are they trained on how to speak customer do they actually know the difference between an Enterprise Architect and an IT Architect? They know what differences that those two individuals may have in their mind in terms of their career aspirations their professional aspirations, you name it, and can they speak to those? We have to help them so that they, in turn, can best help the customer. So that’s another thing that we as marketers change. And then the third thing that we as marketers need to change is our organizations — and we’ve talked about this before earlier. Too many marketers just hide behind the data right now, and as marketers, we need to be front and center, we need to be leading the charge. If a marketer cannot have a customer conversation that is a bad thing because how can that marketer then in turn support and train someone in sales, support and train someone in the support organization, support and train someone in the customer service organization? As marketers, we have to be the best at the art of the conversation with the customer. You have to know them personally, and we have to leverage that personal law of personal relationship in order to help fuel the conversations and relationships of others in the organization.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I so strongly agree. You said something really interesting in there you mentioned into this customer-centric mindset that really needs to permeate, hopefully, the entire organization, I firmly believe it should start in marketing with though there is a difference of opinions there. I’ll tell you a crazy story, which I think you’ll find alarming, but we’ll see, is a friend of mine works in customer marketing for a very large successful tech company here in here in the Bay Area and their number one metric for success that they came up with as an organization to determine how appropriately, how successfully there they’re communicating with their existing customers was number was number of touches. So how often do we touch the customer?

And so what happened is you saw an in this in this company a 500 percent increase in the number of emails they sent. So, rather than worrying about the quality, how they’re treating their customers. So, they just started blasting their own customer base. It was a horrendous customer experience, but everyone made their bonuses because they hit they hit their milestone.

Kevin Cochrane: You did you were totally right. I mean, this is the same thing that we also did in marketing as well when we shifted to taking responsibility for pipeline. We started flooding the system with MQLs. MQL this, MQL that, everything was an MQL — we got double our bonus because we double our MWL because we spent a whole bunch of money on content syndication and we gamed the system. I mean, we got to talk about quality conversations with the customer that result in a successful deployment and a happy, loyal advocate. And, you know, I do think the strategy of making certain that we regularly engage with customers is absolutely essential, and it’s a metric that should be tracked but to your point, you know, it’s how you do it that matters.

Now, I’ll give you an example from my earlier days. So, you know prior to SAP, and prior to my time in several other places, I started my career as a co-founder of a company called Interwoven, right? And was there for 10 years and one of the hallmarks Interwoven was that we literally just knew our customers by name and we would engage them at a minimum every three months like regular clockwork. So, you know, one of the things very early in the day since 1999. We established user groups all around the planet. And we made certain that every quarter we were at those user groups, and we shook everybody’s hands, and we greeted them by their first name, and we remember who they were — even when we had thousands of customers around the globe. Like, we all knew each other, it was so critically important. So yeah, the level of engagement was really important. If we didn’t see someone at a user group for like two quarters that was worrisome — that was worrisome. Like where are they? Like, what’s wrong?

Joe Hyland: Right things not right, right.

Kevin Cochrane: We want to see them like if I don’t see you eye-to-eye, but I don’t see it at the user group, or if I don’t see it the latest executive event, if I don’t see you at the user conference if I don’t shake your hand and say are you okay? How are you doing? Then maybe something’s wrong, right? So I think that we all need to pay attention to levels of engagement for customers, but to your point, let’s do it right, let’s not blood emails and try to game the system.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Well, I mean look at your role in your team. The fact that there’s a CMO in charge of customer experience —  five or ten years ago — I was I was never aware of such a title. I think so many marketers, you’re right, our jobs ended with hey, we got the MQLs over to the inside sales team, we’re done, and what happens when someone’s a customer, sorry, we’re responsible for getting new customers.  Talk about what that’s like because I think that shift alone can lead to the right types of behaviors that we all should encompass in our own marketing.

Kevin Cochrane: Yeah, know exactly. I mean, I actually liken customer experience to the third wave of digital transformation where the first wave of digital transformation was simply putting our presence online to support convenience of access to information about our products goods and services by the online consumer. That was all an era of brand marketing, you know, we wanted to protect our brand.

But in the second age of digital transformation where we rebuilt the entire enterprise web infrastructure stack, that was all about the shift to demand marketing, from brand marketing to demand marketing. And it was really catalyzed because you know, frankly, in the financial crisis the economic outlook was turbulent at best and with poor revenue outlook and potentially flat to declining margins because people needed to lower prices in order to get consumers to spend because consumers were reluctant to spend because their 401Ks tanked, their home values tanked and, you know, maybe they lost their job, suddenly, you know, stock prices were declining. And what happens in that particular case is then people want to boost growth, and the entire digital marketing industry was based on the premise that we need to accelerate customer acquisition because it was all of that spend two thousand nine ten, eleven twelve, all of the martech investments that were funded by VCs were all predicated on the notion of we need to boost revenue by accelerating customer acquisition because it was all driven during the recovery from the financial crisis.

So we are here today because we are still in the overhang that fundamental shift to digital marketing which is all predicated on customer acquisition. But here now in this third wave, which I would argue is just starting right now, it’s we’re returning the art of marketing, we’re returning more to the side of brand marketing, and I like to refer to it as connecting communities, right?

So, from building the brand to driving demand to connecting communities, which is gathering people, right, our customers, our prospects and connecting with them in an authentic way around their personal hopes, dreams, needs, and aspirations, and helping them achieve that day in and day out in their daily lives. And this is fundamentally what’s re-inventing businesses, because suddenly, you know if you’re you know, my favorite coffee company, Starbucks, you can knock me on Starbucks, I am such an advocate — it’s crazy, I go there four times a day. They understand that what I’m looking to do every morning when I get up is I’m looking to have a great start to my day, so they make it super fast, super easy and super convenient for me to never miss a meeting, never miss my time to work because now they let me preorder on my mobile phone and simply walk in and pick up my coffee — it’s fricken fantastic. They’re reinventing their business model in new services to deliver value to me to live my daily life in a faster and more convenient way, right?  And so as marketers we’re redefining our brand promise, right? To connect with our communities and then, day in and day out as marketers, we’re basically showing how that we add more value to their lives. So, I do think that this new wave of digital transformation really puts markers at the forefront to be the ambassadors for the customers to be the voice of the customer and to help educate everyone in the organization to understand how does the brand promise improve people’s lives on a daily basis such that they want to come back again, and again, and again and again?

Joe Hyland: Yeah. I love that. There’s probably no better time, I think, I mean we have no choice were in marketing today, it is what it is, but I think there’s no better time to be to be a marketer. And you’re right, when you talked about the second wave of accelerating revenue, there were. I think beautiful things about it and the obvious slippery slopes. Well, what I thought was great is marketers really became core to growing the business in phase one where it was, I say just brand it’s not necessarily meant to be a negative thing, but you know marketers weren’t necessarily quarter driving growth in all scenarios. Phase two where you talked about, yes, I totally agree. I think it went too far, you know, the explosion of inside sales and SDR departments — a pet peeve of mine — and I’m not really sure if that’s the best customer experience have a 23-year-old just lighting up your prospective customers with ten calls in a week. But yeah, I agree, we’re now moving into this nice mix of a true art of marketing where you have the elements of branding. I think marketers are core to growth still, which is phenomenal and marketers are so strategic. But what you just said about Starbucks, back to the core tenets that you talked about at the start of the show is knowing why someone does what they what they do. I mean, knowing what inspires people — Starbucks does that better than better than most companies.

Kevin Cochrane: That’s right, exactly. As marketers, if you can’t figure out what inspires your customers at a very deep emotional level to react positively or brand — not just once but you know time and time again — go back and think harder and think harder by actually walking in the shoes of your customer and spending time with them.  And I couldn’t agree with you more, by the way, on the whole, SDR model, and, you know what, an SDR model, done correctly, you know, if you’re 23 years old, there’s nothing more fascinating than to get on the phone with the CIO and listen and learn and ask questions, you know, “What’s going on in your world?” And then just be upfront honest. If the CIO, the CMO starts telling you there are challenges, if you train the SDR properly, the SDR could say, you know, you know ma’am, sir, unfortunately, I can’t help you there. Or, potentially, they can.  Now I’ll tell you I start my career, when I was 23 years old, I was a Management Consultant before I did my Interwoven gig. I was a Management Consultant and the way I basically did financial models for mergers and acquisitions, and so, basically, I had to come up with all of the inputs on market size, market growth rates, competitive profiling and so and so forth.

Joe Hyland: That sounds fun work project.

Kevin Cochrane: Yes. Oh my God, they were crazy. They were called grenades because they would blow up in your face because they would take over your life 20 hours days. But what I did was — and these were like weird markets like centrifuges, you know industrial mixers, things that there was no research on, right? And so what you have to do is you have to build up a list of like 300 people you would need to call, like a product manager, CEOs of all the businesses and you just have to engage them. And then, you just have to ask yourself, “Well, how do you do that?” Well, you just show curiosity like, “I’m interested. Hey, I just want to know more about your business like tell me what you can, and in return, I’ll share with you all the insights I gained from my research.”  So, an SDR model done right leverages that unique curiosity as a team. Lean in with that curiosity and make sure that they can understand what the customer is saying and they can relate it to something that you can either do or not do and then train them to be up front and honest. Because, to your point, I think an SDR model done wrong is you give the SDR a script you flood ’em with MQLs, go through this script and then try to punch out as many first level meetings as possible. If they’re just trying to punch out first level meetings and they’re not trying, themselves understand listen and learn and try to relate to a customer problem and how we might solve it, then the model is broken. It doesn’t work.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Now you are you’re totally right and it’s looking at the wrong metrics, right? Like if you’re if you’re looking if you’re so short-term focused that — and let’s face it, every business wants to grow — you got to have a long-term view and short-term metrics can kill you.

Kevin Cochrane:  That’s bingo out. Nothing more to say on that.

Joe Hyland: So we’ll end with the topic that I love, and I get asked a lot is what’s the best path? Like, how did you know? How did Joe how did you become a head of marketing Kevin? We know, how did you get here? You talked about management consulting, and then I think you had a decade-long run as an entrepreneur. You know, were you running marketing, where you were marketing report into you? How did how did you get this level of passion and knowledge? For your craft?

Kevin Cochrane:Yeah, I mean and if it’s going to sound like totally try it actually comes from deep customer knowledge and intimacy. So, in my management consulting days, basically, I wound up being the go-to person that everyone wanted to have on their team because within two to three weeks I would know the customer because I would literally call like 300 of them on the phone and interview them, right? And then when I went to Silicon Valley in 1996 like May of 1996, I didn’t know Tech at all. Like, I know nothing. The Apache web server had just been released, and two hundred engineers in a garage got some seed funding from local VC firm that wanted to invent a new category of software called web content management, and, you know, I literally just said, “Look, I don’t know anything and I have no qualifications to be a product manager, I said, but what I can do for you is you guys have this kind of goal to like, you know, help people build websites.” I said, “I’ll just go interview every single person in the Fortune 500, every single CIO, every single architect of this interview and then I’ll help write down what their requirements are and coalesce those into a document that maybe you can actually use to build a product.” And that’s what I did for 10 years is just I was always in front of a customer talking and listening and learning and then going back — that was my day job was to be out in front of the customer.

My night job was I would sit with engineers and pizza until midnight literally every single night saying here are the customer conversations I had today. And just over time what that translated into was just running … eventually, CMO is super easy because then you are just saying look, “I’m the customer advocate.” Like, you know, I just love talking to customers. I know what’s inspiring them.  So I would just encourage anyone the right path can be any one of several. You can start and pre-sales, you can start in inside sales, you can start in marketing, you can start in a customer success team. If you are the biggest champion of your customers if you are the person that has the most curiosity if you’re the person who really cares about the customer at such as deep level about you, know what emotionally ties into brand your CMO material. And it doesn’t matter where you start you can start from any place — it’s just you gotta be that customer evangelist at the end of the day.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, well, that’s a perfect way to end because you are 100 percent right. Great marketing is about knowing your end-user, knowing what keeps them up at night, what pains they have and hopefully delivering a message in the product that that will help address that. So, Kevin, this was this was fantastic. I really appreciate you doing this while you’re on the road and we’ll continue the conversation over a run.

Kevin Cochrane: Great, thank so much, Joe. It was great meeting you and thanks so much for allowing me to join the conversation today, I enjoyed it a lot.

Joe Hyland:  Awesome. Thanks.

CMO Confessions EP. 10: Scott Brinker of HubSpot

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions. This week, we sit down to talk with the one and only Scott Brinker, Vice President of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot and Editor in Chief at chiefmartec.com. As many of you may know, Scott is the mind behind the martech landscape supergraphic, which currently lists more than 6,800 different companies in the martech space (I still have trouble spotting my company, ON24, on the ever-growing sheet but that’s beside the point).

Scott’s history in the marketing technology space stretches back to 1986 when he was 15 years old and promoting games for The Major BBS, an early bulletin board server. A few short years later, he joined Galacticomm, purveyor of The Major BBS, as vice president of marketing. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

In this episode of CMO Confessions, we dive into Scott’s history, what martech is here for and explore how he thinks the landscape will change in the coming years. Spoiler: there’s talk of consolidation in the forecast.

You can find Scott on Twitter at @chiefmartec and check out his extensive resume through LinkedIn here. You can also check out his book, “Hacking Marketing,” right here.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello, I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from the Greater Boston Area is Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystem at HubSpot as well as a host of other companies that we’ll talk about in just a minute. So, Scott, welcome.

Scott Brinker: Joe great to be here with you.

Joe Hyland: That’s fantastic having you. I think you and your work are famous in marketing circles. So, the martech landscape that you publish I think I see twice a week in presentations with the background being that there’s a lot of stuff happening in the marketing space and it’s a crowded market.
I’d love for you to talk about that work, how you even envisioned it and how you researched it. Where did you even begin on that journey?

Scott Brinker: Yeah. I’m not sure if it’s famous so much is infamous at this point. But yeah, it was actually very humble beginnings. As, you know, cool projects are. So, for a few years, I’ve been advocating to marketing executives that they really needed to hire technology people to be a part of the marketing team — these marketing technologists. And so, I developed the first version of that landscape for a conference that had a bunch of you know, CMOs, in the audience. And it was my attempt to say, “Hey, look at the evidence. Look at all these different technologies that you’ve now become reliant on, whether it was your content management system or search engine optimization or social or mobile.”

You lay it all out, it’s like “oh my goodness!” There’s like actually a lot of different technologies that are driving modern marketing. And this was in 2011. And so, when I did that first slide, it was around 150 different companies and I largely assembled it from folks. You know been talking to marketers for years, “What tools do you use for this will tools are used for that.” And yeah, even that first version with only about 150. Half the time I was like, “Oh my God, that was a lot of marketing Technologies. This is insane!”

So, you know, I just kept going back year-over-year to update this mostly out of my own curiosity at first. But then, somewhere around 2014 when it crossed into you know thousand — like they were a thousand vendors all of a sudden on that landscape — it kind of took on a life of its own.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, when do you when do you think it hit an inflection point so to speak? What do you think? Do you think it was in 2014 when they’re over a thousand? Was it before that after that?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, so certainly the 2014 landscape was an inflection point. I think everyone realized at that point in time that, “Okay, this is this is a very different beast than what we have seen before.” And particularly for marketers who, again, we’re digital marketers. It’s not that where tech shy, but there was something about yeah, the scale of all these different technologies and the rate at which they were evolving and the new players who were entering all of a sudden.

Yeah, that was a tipping point where I think people realized. I mean, I certainly realized. This is this is crazy and the rules we had for managing technology as executives in marketing for the previous decade — we were going to have to start to rethink them in this new environment.

Joe Hyland: Were there did you broaden this topic? It’s just fascinating to me — you’ll have to force me off of it in a few moments. Did you broaden some of the definitions or was there was there actually a tenfold increase in companies? Was there a start-up proliferation in B2B marketing?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, it was kind of three things all coming together. One, certainly, I was getting better at discovering them during those I was able to go out and I was learning year-over-year and say, “Hey, what are the pockets of these different, you know, companies.” And also, I was having more companies reach out to me proactively and say, “Hey, we saw your landscape from last year, why aren’t we here? We have, you know, 25 million in revenue a hundred great customers, you know, what’s up?”

So, there’s some of that discovery. Some of it that was an expansion of the categories from my perspective. For instance, I always sort-of included but expanded things around like sales enablement and sales intelligence incorporated — things such as very common project management tools that weren’t specific to marketing, like Trello, you know isn’t a quote-unquote marketing tool, but so many marketing organizations rely on those tools. In so many marketing organizations, the marketing ops person is collaborating with a sales ops person on how we’re delivering sales enablement, but I thought it was worthwhile to include that in people’s picture of “Hey, listen still as a marketing executive this is kind of the tech world that you have to have a say in — you have to have a vision for you know how this maps into your organization.”

So, there’s that and then on top of that you had just new companies entering the space and an incredible rate because this isn’t actually just marketing — this is happening in every department like HR, finance and accounting. I mean, you name it.

It’s just gotten so easy to create new software. The barriers to entry for taking a great idea and building it on top of AWS and getting it out into the world is a pretty low bar to be able to get out of.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, it’s exciting. I mean, I live in the right in the middle of it in San Francisco. I told you before, I’m from Boston one of my friends works for a venture capital firm in Boston. He’s so proud of Boston companies helps about being one of them. He’s always reminding me of the latest and greatest Boston company.

But you’re right, the barrier to entry has demonstrably changed in the last 10 years. Are you seeing, or do you predict a lot of consolidation? Because, what’s the list up to now? It’s is it 6,500? I knew I knew it was north of 5,000.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, it’s something like 6,300 different companies. Again, that list, the moment I publish it I am now awash with “Yeah, you know you forgot so-and-so and then some.”

But I mean it’s interesting. So, there is consolidation. This is always one of the things that people find so counterintuitive is because for years.

Consolidation has been going on. If you look at you know, the major companies in the space, you know, certainly like, you know Salesforce, Adobe Oracle — I mean these have been incredibly acquisitive companies in trying to pull together these solutions stacks. I mean, HubSpot’s gone on the acquisition game a bit it’s like so that’s definitely happening, but at the same time the new entrants into the space — well, one hasn’t overtaken the other so we’re seeing these forces of consolidation, but we still see this rejuvenation of new entrants in new categories trying new ideas. It’s just an incredibly frothy space and when we could debate whether that’s good, bad, ugly but the thing about the landscape I’ve always found is even if you set aside a value judgment on it, it’s like do I think this is a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just empirically what it is.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I find it fascinating. I think we’re lucky to be marketers. I think there are a few professions who are as enamored as marketers with new technologies new ideas. For me, nothing’s bolted to the ground and that’s part of what makes great marketing.

The last space I was in was financial supply chain and at the time it felt like there was an explosion of technology, looking back. It’s laughable, there were 20 or 30 companies and that felt crowded. Yeah, I’m proud that there’s all these new technologies. For me, what’s interesting is what’s a nice to have a piece of technology versus what’s built to last. And I think your last statement is right: it will be what it will in fact be. I think a lot of these a lot of these techs will probably — you know — a pretty high-percentage of them will either get folded into larger players — the HubSpot’s of the world — big fan of HubSpot. Truthfully, they’ll go their own way and they’ll parish it will be interesting to see how many of them are standalone companies. What percentage — do you even have an opinion on that or do you not hypothesize on future?

Scott Brinker: Well, it’s with that caveat that predicting the future is hard, but I actually have some data on this. I went back to the very first, proto-landscape I created right before 2011, and I don’t know I want to say there was like 70 some-odd companies that I had on that. And, without looking at the sheet — I can’t get the exact number — I would say something like 60 out of the 70 had gone away. They’d either been acquired and merged into something or they’d simply gone out of business.

And if you think about between 2010, and I think I did that at the end of 2017, you know about 17 years is usually right — particularly in tech. There’s kind of a business cycle there: you’ve either hit escape velocity or something — you become one of the permanent members of the community or you’ve been merged or acquired or something. Or, it’s played its course and if you didn’t end up winning, it’s not so much necessarily that the big guys are going to push you out. It’s probably that they’ll just be a new generation of new entrepreneurs who tried in a different way in a better way and because you don’t have a large enough scale, it’s actually harder to fend off those new entrants.

So, I do think it’s still going to be a fairly frothy market for a lot of those companies on the landscape today.

Joe Hyland: Okay, that’s interesting. So, 60 out of the out of the 70 went there went their own way.

Scott Brinker: Yep, and in fact, actually we’ve been tracking this now year over year on the big landscape — last from 2007 to 2018 4.7 percent of the companies that were on 2017 landscape we’re no longer around in 2018 — again, either acquired or just out of business. And, so, it’s interesting because if you talk about a 5 percent churn rate, in the scheme of things, that’s a pretty high churn rate – we’re talking hundreds of companies every year. But again, it gets lost in the thunder of all these other participants and entrants into the space and because software is not just cheap to build, frankly it’s also pretty darn cheap to maintain on an operational basis. Then I think it’s interesting. You see companies that have gone the VC route, and they’re burning money to hit a scalable escape velocity and that’s a very much you either win or you lose the game. It’s hard to just like carry on around there.

But you know, I want to say something like about half or more of the companies on the martech landscape don’t have VC funding. They’re organically grown, and those things are a lot more interesting because I think it’s more challenging them for them to ultimately achieve a huge scale. But boy, they can find a niche of a particular set of customers that they serve well, and those customers love them, and they love what they’re doing and they’re profitable there might not be a billion-dollar public company, but they’re there and I don’t think those guys are necessarily going to go away that quickly.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, that’s interesting. So, the 4.7 who left that ends up being dwarfed though by the 15 or 20 percent that entered the landscape, right? So. Yeah.

Scott Brinker: And we’ll see if that continues, right? I mean, you know that there is clearly, at some level, like the laws of physics — an upper limit on how many modern tech companies there can be in the world.

Joe Hyland: It’d be a good piece, “The Martech Laws of Physics.”

Scott Brinker: We’ve been we’ve been denying gravity about as long as we can, I think.

Joe Hyland: For me, it’s interesting. You know when I see the list one, I think it’s really impressive. It’s great work. I can’t imagine the amount of cycles and time that goes into it. It’s very thoughtful. So, hats off to you and your team. For me, what it says — and I think there’s a lot of different interpretations — if you just look at a snapshot, it’s that as a purchaser of technology, and I this has changed a lot in the last 10 years, I wanted to all work together. I demand that it does.

One of the cool things about my job is I’m just constantly talking to marketers. I talk to a lot of marketers who are like, “That’s the failing.” Like, that’s where they’re so frustrated: you buy into this bigger vision and dream of what your marketing tech stack can look like and then it ends up being a clunker car where things just don’t run properly.

So, to me, that’s where beautiful things can happen: when you find the right pieces of technology to support your strategy and shit actually works. How often are you seeing that dream actually realized?

 Scott Brinker: So, I think it’s interesting: they’re two challenges to technology adoption and one is the technical integration challenge. And I have to say like three years ago, man, it was a total mess. I mean, you had to have a Ph.D. in enterprise architecture make this stuff happen.

Two things have happened in the past few years here that have made it better. I won’t say it’s solved yet — this is still work in progress — but two things that made it better is. First of all, the major companies, again, Salesforce always had this in its DNA, but also, Oracle and Adobe — and a plug for what I’m doing here at HubSpot. HubSpot embraces this idea that the major companies, rather than focusing on just a closed system of, “Okay, this is our suite; you by the suite of everything from us; there’s nothing outside the suite.” Really embracing more of a platform mentality say, “Okay, here’s the foundational systems that we will offer, these common systems of record, the ability to like orchestrate how these different things work together.” And between the platform companies and then the companies that plug into these platforms, they can do the technical work to make that integration a lot more out-of-the-box, a lot more seamless. And every major martech company is headed in this way. I mean again, it’s a journey there’s a long way for them to go but that’s getting better.

The second thing is, while a lot of these companies were taking their time and becoming platforms, this whole field of integration platform as a service, ipass companies, folks like Zapier is always the easiest example. They sprung up and they said, “Listen, okay, well if it’s taking a while for these other companies to platformize, hey, listen, we can just solve this as a third party and we’ll make it easy for you to plug all your different stack elements together and pass data between them. Again, we’ve got a way to go but I feel like we’re making a lot of progress on the technical integration.

I think the bigger challenge I see now with most organizations is — it’s like the dog that catches the car. It’s like, “Okay, actually, we bought the technology and, okay, we actually got it integrated; they’re now like sharing the right data — what the hell do we do with this?”

I mean, so much of this technology — this is new stuff. I mean the playbooks for this have not been written yet. They’re being written, they’re being pioneered and a lot of them, it’s not just about trying to figure out new ways to use the tool, it’s really more about “How do we change the way our marketing organization thinks and operates to take advantage of even just the way these tools change the nature of business, the nature of the relationship with customers.” And I think that’s actually a much harder problem that we’re all going to be collectively working on here for the next decade.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think you’re right. In some ways collecting these technologies, well, there’s tons of potential and you need to be careful that today’s technology doesn’t just become yesterday’s tactics. We’ve all had that strategy meeting where you think it’s something bigger and more strategic and before you know it you listed 10 tactics that you’re going to do, and you say “Shit, this doesn’t seem like a strategy, it’s more list of tactics.” I think that’s happened with a lot of marketers now with technology — ABM is an easy to poke fun — at and I’m a huge believer in personalized marketing — but that’s a strategy versus just saying, “Oh we’re going to deploy ABM this year.” Like, okay, cool, what does that look like? I don’t just want to hear technology. I’m a big believer of demandbase and a handful of the other technologists who are leading the way here, but it is not simply a plug and play technology.

It requires deep thought into segmentation — who your audiences are, a lot of content, right? So, I think you’re right. If we’re not if we’re not careful, it just becomes a list of technologies which is not really a marketing strategy.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, ABM is a great example for that and like one of the challenges we hear from so many marketers now. It’s the boundaries of marketing are becoming very porous. And ABM is one of those things. If you really want to do account based, not just marketing, but really account based business, this level of integration you need between your marketing team, your sales organization and, quite frankly, even your customer success organization, because very often it’s about starting with a foothold in one place and then expanding it from there —that’s, yeah, tricky cross-departmental collaboration.

Joe Hyland: It’s a shift in how you go to market. It’s not about serving up an ad with a cookie that says, “Hi, Scott.” Like, that’s not an ABM strategy, right? This is this is a shift in how your company operates. And yeah, just because you have it integrated in doesn’t actually mean you know what to do with it.

Scott Brinker: Well said.

Joe Hyland: So, okay. Well, so how do you split… So, I said at the start that you have a lot going on in a lot of titles at a lot of different organizations. What’s your world look like? How do you divide your time between HubSpot and Chief Martech? Do you? Do they all just merge together? Like what’s a day in the life of Scott Brinker like?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, you know, it varies over the year. For the most part what I do at HubSpot here is what you would think of is like my real job. This is how I make a living before I joined HubSpot. I was the co-founder and CTO of Ion Interactive SaaS platform for interactive content. And, to be honest, it’s always where I found the joy is, actually. You know, being in the game like, you know working with technology, working with marketers to help change this. And Chief Martech, I’ve tried to keep it as a labor of love. Part of that works in the mode where it’s like, because I don’t do that for a living I don’t ever feel pressured to say, “Oh my goodness, it’s Wednesday I need to get a post-up because I always publish on Wednesday.” It’s more like, listen, if I’ve got something useful to say or I’m interested in — awesome I’ll find the time. Whether it’s an evening or the weekend or whenever I’ll write it up.

I’ll get out if I don’t have anything interesting to say I’m like [intelligible]. But I have the luxury of doing that because I’m not trying to run like an ad-supported website.

The conference that we work on, the martech conference, I do in collaboration with Third Door Media who produce things like The Search Marketing conference. They were on the Marketing Land site.

And so, they do an amazing job with that and they do, as far as I’m concerned, all the hard work associated with that conference. And yeah, it really gave me the freedom to then just focus on the content, which, again, for me, it doesn’t feel like a job.  I’m just fascinated to hear marketers are doing what’s working for them, what’s not and getting those folks to be able to come and share their stories. It’s just it’s a thrill for me. So, trying and keep that side of things in the labor of love bucket and HubSpot’s been very supportive of letting me travel to speak and do what I do with Martech and stuff like that without interfering in that.

Joe Hyland: Very cool. Very, very cool. I think there were a lot of — I’ll personalize this — I think there was a lot of marketers who, when they saw the news of you landing at HubSpot, said, “Shit, that was a really good idea — why didn’t we think of that?” It was a very smart hire. So, I’m curious to know — you run you run platform ecosystem — what’s that like? What does that even mean? And how does your background and your expertise on this entire marketing landscape fits into to the relative spot?

Scott Brinker: Sure, so HubSpot is pretty transparent that it’s in a journey to become a platform company. We’d be hesitant to — you know, there’s a lot we need to do to be a really great platform. I think we’ve been making great progress, but I am one of two people who is working on this transformation of the company. My counterpart is a woman named Nancy Riley who is in our product organization and so she’s really taking the leadership of how the product itself is evolving to be a better platform and more extensible platform.

And then I work more on the business side of, “okay what sort of programs can we put together so that as we have partners who come into the HubSpot ecosystem, how can we help them reach the right customers? How can we make them successful? And then how do we start to evolve the messaging of HubSpot to be — okay, it’s not just about the software that HubSpot creates — it’s about this larger whole the foundations that HubSpot creates then all these amazing more specialized solutions that plug-in to that environment. So yeah, most of my day is some combination across that entire spectrum.

Joe Hyland: That’s very cool. It will be interesting to see — and I see HubSpot, just my own personal opinion, I see HubSpot thriving in this new world order that we’re seeing coming to play — so I think the company’s going to do quite well. It will be interesting to see how the messaging and positioning evolves because you created this movement around inbound, but at some point, you will become more than that and it will be interesting to see how the company messaging evolves. You know, CRM as an example. I don’t think of as a classic inbound piece of technology, but that’s something you guys have explored, right? So, I think a lot of marketers who were envious of the marketing and positioning of your company or curious to see what happens in the next couple of years. So, more of a statement than a question, but I think it’s I think it’s discussed a lot in a lot of other marketing departments.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, no, and I think it’s discussed a lot here at HubSpot. I mean, all it’s a combination of both companies evolve right as companies grow, but it’s also the marketing and the broader digital business landscape is evolving too. I mean what the world needed 10 years ago is different than what it’s gonna need in the next 10 years here. So, I don’t think it’s just a matter of HubSpot wanting to evolve on this.

I think it’s just being every platform connected in the digital front-office world these days has to think about how do we continue to evolve with the way the world is changing?

I mean even the thing we were talking about earlier here about these bridges between the marketing or and the sales org and the customer success org, how do you start to from a platform worldview connect these functions and get them to actually get greater synergy together? There’s something happening there that isn’t inbound, but I think it’s a very exciting future if you know where HubSpot and other companies in the space and go.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. All right, well, I’ll end with a question that I get a lot from for many marketers. What’s the perfect path? So, I’ll talk to young, aspiring markers and they say, “How did you get to where you are?” And you know, I want to follow that journey and I think everyone’s journey is unique.

Walk us through yours because I find it particularly interesting and I think the order was a little mismatched but in a manner that produced a pretty damn good result. So, if you wouldn’t mind, take us through your journey.

Scott Brinker: All right. Well, I’ll do the abbreviated one.

Joe Hyland: You can be as detailed as you see fit.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, so the short version is I started at a very young age as a software entrepreneur. I’d say I was driven by the technology. My background was as a developer. But, early on, it was that intersection of not just developing something — I was, as a teenager — is multiplayer games was also like, “Okay, well, how do you sell these? How do you turn this into a business? How do you make money out of that?” Years ago, that was a novel thing nowadays, right? Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. Like I mean, if you’re not making your first billion by the time you’re 20, I mean, what’s wrong? But I think it started me down this path of always looking at how Innovations in technology could change what was possible for companies and customers and then how do you actually sell that? How do you help companies adopt this stuff and transform it?

And so, I went through some early days before the web in the generation of technology before online systems, dial-up systems, bulletin board systems. With the web, I then moved into doing work with a boutique web development shop, web agency for a while. We built solutions for companies like Citrix and Siemens and Yahoo, and, fascinating thing because, again, that was place where this idea of the marketing technologist really got seeded for me because we get hired by the marketing organization to make their web visions come true, and then my technology team would be the ones who had to go talk to their IT organization to figure out, “Okay, how are we going to integrate this into the back office… It’s really interesting, it’s shuttle diplomacy, the early days of integrations. And then after a while, we were very successful with that but, you know, I kind of went back to my software product roots.

And that was where Ion Interactive came and launched what was initially the sort of a landing page microsite platform that evolved into an interactive content platform. And again, that’s kind of it was interesting. So that was actually where there was a split where my vocation, my job when CTO of Ion was forging the technology version of that and really thinking about okay, how do how do we tell that story? How do we help companies take advantage of this new technology?

But that was when yeah, on the side, the nights and weekends of when I was working on the Chief Mark Tech site. Yeah, just this fascination of the challenges I was seeing with ion’s customers and when you get these pieces to work together, and then also once you’ve got this technology inside your organization, how do you do really harness its real value?

I mean these were problems people have in across the entire spectrum of marketing and marketing tech.

Joe Hyland: Sorry, you started Chief MarTech while you were still CTO of ion, is that right?

Scott Brinker: Yes.

Joe Hyland: Okay, okay.

Scott Brinker: And again, there’s something about having a little labor of love on the side that I would encourage everyone — I mean and probably, for most people, it’s not in the same profession that you’re in. But, you know, what can I say? I love Mar Tech. And so both took their own path. I’d say that turning point for Chief Martech was that 2014 landscape when I think everyone realized, me including, that there really was a pretty fundamental transformation in the nature of technology in the marketing department and we were going to have to get a lot more serious as an industry and as a profession about how we manage this both strategically, but also operationally.

Joe Hyland: Super-cool and now you’re here.

Scott Brinker: And now I’m here. All right.

Joe Hyland: Well, listen, Scott, this has been fantastic. We’re at the bottom of the hour. I will leave you all with a quote from a quote from Scott from about 15 minutes ago, “The boundaries of marketing are becoming very porous.” And I think with that we’ll close out.
Thanks, so much man.

Scott Brinker: Thank you, Joe.

CMO Confessions Ep. 9: Jenn Steele of Madison Logic

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions. This week, we talk shop with Madison Logic’s Jenn Steele, who, in my opinion, has one of the more unique backgrounds as CMO. Jenn started her career not as a marketer in marketing, but as the head of IT at a few law firms. After getting her MBA, Jenn shifted into the martech space and started marketing career at a small company named HubSpot. The rest, I guess, is history.

Over the years, Jenn has gained some fantastic insight — and, more importantly, perspective — on the state of the martech space. It seems we’re of the same opinion on a great deal of things, including “awards,” compensating for shortcomings why a lot of martech today just really needs to get a grip.

Finally, Jenn has shared with us an excellent book to dig into called “The New Leader’s 100 Action Plan,” by George Bradt. I’m looking forward to digging into this myself.

You can find Jenn on Twitter at @Jennsteele and on follow her career on LinkedIn here.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello, and I want to welcome everyone to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. The idea here being this is a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it’s really like to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m pleased to have Jenn Steele, CMO for Madison Logic, hot off joining the company three weeks ago Jenn welcome to the show.

Jenn Steele: Thanks for having me.

Joe Hyland: Okay, so I haven’t said this thus far, and I said when we were talking earlier, I’m honest to a fault, and I read what I thought was the most brilliant line when I went on your LinkedIn page — opening line, so you now know what about to say, is, “I like big data and I cannot lie,” which one is a great reference to Sir Mix-A-Lot, I believe

Jenn Steele: Yes…

Joe Hyland: It was just fantastic. I think, too, it probably says a lot about you. Unless you’re just a really ironic person and you actually don’t like data whatsoever.

Jenn Steele: That would be wrong. Now, I’m obsessed with data. I have a degree in science and my first marketing role was at HubSpot, where what I heard literally every day was, “In God, we trust, all others bring data.” And so, for me, marketing has always been about data and I’ve even worked at a big data company, or multiple, ones actually, because you can count Bizible. So yeah, I cannot lie, I like big data.

Joe Hyland: Well, one, I find that refreshing. I talk to a lot of marketers who are forced into acting as if they love data and they don’t know what to do with data and they’re lost with data and, I don’t know, a lot of marketers didn’t come from a more of a science background and they get that that’s not necessarily core or natural to them — it’s not intuitive. And I think marketing has so wildly shifted in the last five or 10 years, which I think is really exciting and fun, to being more analytical. But have you come across other other marketers who struggle in this area?

Jenn Steele: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think anybody who started their marketing career before ten years ago — anybody who started their marketing career before about 2008-2009 — if anything, being analytical was exactly the opposite of what you needed, right? You needed to be creative or you needed to figure out how to make sales or, you know, you needed to drink scotch and be Mad Men. And that’s not usually the same personality if someone who’s like, “Oh give me Excel, I have a great relationship with Excel.”

Joe Hyland: Exactly.

Jenn Steele: But I always have the theory that you should hire to your weaknesses. So, for example, I am actually absolutely abysmal at design. I’m slightly colorblind, I’ve got a brother who’s a graphic designer who’s like, “Stay away, Jenn, just stay away.” And so I always try to make sure I’ve got somebody on my team that’s good at design or at least has an eye for it. Because, obviously, brand is a big deal. Well, okay, just like I have to hire somebody who has some visual aesthetic sense then if I’m a marketer without a big grasp of data, then I just hire for that. It’s not the end of the world.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I agree. Since we’re speaking of weaknesses, mine is, operationally, I just I fight anytime I have to sit in a salesforce meeting or we go through flowcharts our Venn diagrams. I just get bored. I hate it. I’m not sure if I’m weak at it or I just don’t have the attention span for it. Like, I’ve never actually sat through and been patient enough to determine that.

But yeah, for me, it’s really important to have operationally-sound people around me. If I just have creative types around me, you know, everything’s a brilliant whiteboard session and then we all go and never execute on it, right?

Jenn Steele:  I can see that. Whereas, for me, I need to have ideas people around me because I am one of those just very driven people. And, okay, I will admit, I don’t love the detail, but I might kind of like flowcharts a little bit, but there are people who like detail. I’ll try to hire them when I can because I need them around me. But, if I left to my own devices, my marketing team will absolutely execute on absolutely everything and stay inside their little boxes because I need somebody who’s really an ideas person who can really push us to be wild and then it gets interesting.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think  people know where to fill-in based on their blind spots versus versus trying to force it. Well, if you’ve always been into data and, without looking at exactly when you started your career, I don’t think it’s been in the last five or six years, right? Talk about the shifting world, right? As you said, there’s another we didn’t really have data readily available to us. There was a lot of intuition and gut-marketing. When I started about 20 years ago, I remember my first boss said well we. I asked why we’re going to a certain trade show and I didn’t know enough to really ask the question on what kind of return did we get last year, I guess that’s what I was getting at.

But I was 22 and I had no idea that there was even such a thing as trying to measure ROI and the answer I got back was,” Well, if we don’t go to this event, people will think we’ve gone out of business.” And so that was our event strategy.

Jenn Steele:  And that’s still people’s event strategy.

Joe Hyland: It’s true, isn’t it? Isn’t it insane? I guess you’re right, I have perhaps — and a lot of this is just pervasive and it hasn’t left the space — but, I don’t know, perhaps that is the logic that some people still hold — but there’s a shitload of data out there. So I’d love to hear from your perspective as as a self-proclaimed data nerd and junkie how your world has changed in the last 20 years in terms of analyzing like the ins and outs of marketing.

Jenn Steele: So I haven’t have the most traditional career path as a CMO. In fact, I had over a decade of Information Technology experience and I used to be more in the CIO realm. I ran I.T. departments at law firms.

Joe Hyland: Okay, I did I did not know this. Do tell, this is fascinating.

Jenn Steele: So that’s what I did shortly out of college because it was that time when anybody could trip and fall and get into technology. And I ended up in my late twenties being the head of IT departments at law firms.

Joe Hyland: Seriously?

Jenn Steele: Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Hyland: Wow.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely, I used to be able to recover an exchange server.

Joe Hyland: Okay, I don’t even know what that means, so there we go.

Jenn Steele:  Email. But my first situation analyses — where you go in and you plan, etcetera — had more to do with servers and systems and Citrix than they had to do with clicks and click conversions. And I started getting really into social media.

Joe Hyland: Okay, and your singer still working in it at the time.

Jenn Steele: I was still in I.T. at the time. Actually, I picked up an MBA in there. Marketing classes were actually my worst classes.

Joe Hyland: Interesting, okay.

Jenn Steele: You call this CMO confessions, here we go.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. No, I like it. This is great.

Jenn Steele: And my MBA concentrated in leadership, specifically. I burned out of I.T. and law firms and I called up my career office and she’s like, “You got to talk to this, it’s a brand new company, it’s called HubSpot.”

Joe Hyland: Really?

Jenn Steele:  And I was employee number 90 at HubSpot and they hired me, a former head of I.T., they hired me to be an inbound marketing consultant and tell hundreds of other marketers how to do inbound marketing.

Joe Hyland:  Makes sense, makes sense given your experience at that time. Sure.

Jenn Steele: I can speak authoritatively about basically anything, it turns out.

Joe Hyland: Hey, you took a leadership class, so you were you were ready. You ready to tell someone in an authoritative tone what to do you just needed to figure out what it should be.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely. So, and obviously it was easy for me to rise into a management roles there and etcetera. But my first exposure to the data world — well, I started working at a company full of other MIT alums and that was very, very data-driven. But here we were evangelizing to SMBs. We were evangelizing the worth and value of data. So, I was talking to people who were in their 50s who had spent their entire lives in, shall I call it traditional marketing, right? You know, arts and crafts friends and brand and buzz and they were subject matter experts thing on everything. They just didn’t know this internet thing and they knew that they needed to deal with this internet thing. So my exposure to the big switch was more by being a change agent in the environment than it was by going through it myself.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, that must have been super exciting. What was it like early days at HubSpot? You’re creating a market, right? Did you even — I guess I’m asking a lot of questions and not  letting you answer — did you even have the notion of inbound marketing at the time when you joined?

Jenn Steele: So, I mean, we made up the term.

Joe Hyland:  Sure, I mean, early but you didn’t have it right at the start right?

Jenn Steele: When I started they were already using inbound marketing. It’s like shortly after I started the inbound marketing book came out. So they were using it, and nobody else had ever heard of the term, but we were certainly using it inside HubSpot. And, what was it? Get found using social media and blogs. I think that was one of the big taglines. Oh, Goole, social media and blogs that was it, right?

Joe Hyland: Yeah. I hear I think  so many companies, not just marketers, but companies, point to — and I think it’s a dangerous thing to do — but will point to HubSpot as as the quintessential example of creating a category. So, now everyone wants to do it. Right? No, no one wants to be what they actually are. Everyone’s trying to create a category.

Jenn Steele:  Seriously, and I’ve been hired at least three times to do that and I have convinced three different companies that it was dumb.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Well, I think authenticity is so important and it’s perhaps difficult to tell when someone’s being authentic, but it’s really easy to tell when someone’s being inauthentic. Like, we can sniff out bullshit pretty quickly. And I think that’s what that’s what a lot of companies do with these category creation goals and initiatives. They try to create something that shouldn’t really exist and doesn’t exist in —  it’s just from their own perspective. So so you’ve been successful in talking CEOs or companies out of doing that?

Jenn Steele: In some cases, yes.So, martech, when I left it — so I went from HubSpot to Amazon and I’ll call that leaving martech — martech when I left it had fewer than a thousand companies in the infamous landscape, right? I came back and I’m like, “What the hell happened while I was gone?”

Joe Hyland:  It’s out of control.

Jenn Steele: It went from 500 to 5,000 and I was gone for, oh gosh, what was it? I was only gone for five or  six years. I’m like, in six years, we got 10x the number of martech companies.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, well, I mean I live in the land of where they all exist. I’m in San Francisco,  you bump into someone on the streets and the likelihood of them working for a martech company is quite high — doing things that don’t really make sense, truthfully.

Jenn Steele: So many of them are apps. They’re really, like, they’re features or they’re apps — they’re not products.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, or they’re not really meant to be standalone companies. And I’m not trying to call anyone out, but they raise money with the sole intent of being acquired within hopefully three or four years, right? That’s kind of a dangerous business model.

Jenn Steele: It is, it is although when most of the money these days is private rather than public I can almost see that as an okay exit exit strategy, but let’s just say that I’m not really attracted to that kind of company.

Joe Hyland: No, same. If you keep you can’t if you can’t explain the business model or how you make money or add value to your customers in 30 seconds, there’s probably a problem.

Jenn Steele: True, and that’s probably why half the martech companies sound exactly the same.

Joe Hyland: They do, right? They do. Well, so there’s the I mean, there’s only so many adjectives and descriptors for giving space, right? So, I mean like they’re like there’s a lot of Engagement overlap, I’ll tell you that much.

Jenn Steele:  And we’re all like Lemmings. It’s like engagements the new thing. Oh, and now we’re all revenue marketers. Let’s all run over there. And now let’s make sure we write that on our website. I mean, it’s so frustrating to try to differentiate yourself. At my last company, bizible, we knew we were the best, we also knew that our competitors said the same damn thing we would every single damn time.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Sadly, I will look at my own website, or our own website, and I can go to 10 other companies and it’s hard to tell the difference. I don’t think we’re copying anyone but you know, again, there’s just only so many descriptors out there and, before you know, it you’re not differentiated and you’re ultimately you’re all Lemmings — you’re just saying the exact same thing. It’s it is a crowded space.

Jenn Steele: It is and now I work at one of the 400 ABM platforms in the world.

Joe Hyland: So, I said this at the start, you started three weeks ago, right? You’re wrapping up week three.

Jenn Steele: Yes, this is the last day of week three I started August 6th or something, yeah.

Joe Hyland: I said this to you when we first spoke, but starting at a new company is exciting. One of the things I love most about marketing is just problem solving, right? That’s what I ultimately think marketing is. You have a thesis, you have a market, hopefully, and there is hopefully a challenge or a problem in that marketing — what’s the best way to align those those two or three things?

So I’m, in some ways, envious of what you’re going through right now just because I think intellectually it’s just exciting. Do you have a blueprint or a philosophy for how you started a new organization or if you look at everyone like a snowflake and it’s completely different

Jenn Steele: So, I should have a blueprint. Or, well, okay, I am developing more of a blueprint philosophy as I go.

Joe Hyland: But it gets dangerous because they’re all different — sorry to interject — every company is different, right? So I’ve seen people come in with a playbook and it’s like, “Dude, that may have worked somewhere else,” like it’s a different problem and it’s a different market.

Jenn Steele: Well, I mean a playbook — there was exactly one marketing thing that was paramount in my mind when I started at Madison Logic and that was, “I have to buy Bizible.” Data I have and not just because I loved the company and I came from Bizible, but because in my time at Bizible I realized there was no way on Earth I could execute, again, data-driven marketing without what I consider to be the best data platform for attribution in the world.

Joe Hyland: Sure.

Jenn Steele: I swear I’m not saying that just because I used to work there. But what I actually did is — I so I’ve tried, actually, several different executive onboarding methodologies — I’ve on-boarded as an executive in two different industries, now in two different very careers in both I.T. and in marketing. So I’ve tried the first 90 days, and, this time, I’ve tried the first hundred days playbook. I can send you the reference later, if you’d like it, and a lot of what they had is it’s not about my marketing plan is going to be X and Y and Z, it’s about what are my milestone dates? Who do I need to talk to before I start? What do I need to do before I come in? And how am I going to execute the sponge period, right? Where I have to basically sit there and listen to people and talk to them until my eyes glaze over and I’m exhausted every night because I’m just trying to onboard all of the information all at one time?

And, of course, for me, working at a New York company and being in Seattle that meant two weeks in New York and then back to Seattle.

Joe Hyland: So, this is your first week back in Seattle since you started, okay.

Jenn Steele: Yes, so and I spent about a quarter of my time in New Yorker. I’m going to but in luckily I’m from the east coast of the snow is not going to kill me. But, fundamentally, it’s all about, “What are what are the Milestones?” So, I went and I attempted to be a sponge and then, on the plane flight back on Friday, I started building a functional organization of what I thought a successful marketing team at Madison Logic would look like. And, then, I have spent a lot of this week trying to tell people to just hang on a second — because I have made the mistake of coming on board and not taking a moment to plan, but instead actually jumping in on all the problems. And, like you, I’m a big problem solver, it’s something I’m super passionate about and it’s something I’m trained to do and you can make an immediate impact. So, I’m, right now, trying to balance. Yes, I want to get some quick wins and solve some problems, but I can get buried in that and not do the really big important stuff and lay out a roadmap and lay out a budget in order to make sure that Madison Logic succeeds.

Because I don’t want to simply solve problems and solve them and solve them and solve them and make little incremental steps.I want to say, “Okay, we’re here, I want to 10x our revenue over the next 10 years. How do I get there?” And without without taking that time to plan — and I’m not a big, “let me take time and go think of something,” I am far more of a, “let’s just get it done” person. But without actually very consciously taking the time to plan I know that we’d actually move slower and not faster.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, and now how mature is the organization, one, and, two, how mature is the marketing team?

Jenn Steele: So Madison Logics actually been around for a while — 2005, I believe. It was acquired by private equity in 2016. And so it’s not it’s not a start-up. Yeah. It’s about a hundred and twenty people but, and what I love about it, is that we’ve got major presence in the enterprise. And, unlike most other martech companies that are trying to go from mid-market to Enterprise, we actually just put out a SaSS product to take us down into mid-market.

Joe Hyland: That’s cool.

Jenn Steele: So, I think that’s a huge amount of fun, because, of course, I’ve spent the last several jobs being like “Enterprise, enterprise, enterprise — I get it, I get it, I get it. That’s why you’ve hired me, yes. I’ve done it and here I am.” Instead, I’m like, “Okay I can start here and then mid-market,” it’s scalability and it’s a little bit more interesting, at least for me, to not try and be going after the same five decision-makers every other martech CMO is going after right now.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I know, it’s crowded.

Jenn Steele: It’s so crowded. The second part of your question was how mature is the marketing org? So, the marketing org is tiny. There’s only two people in there and really they’re just content creators. There’s three now, with me, and so I am effectively starting with the good content foundation and otherwise a blank slate. So it’s it’s fun.

Joe Hyland: It’s exciting. It’s interesting. So, I’ll compare it to when I started at my last company — it was a true startup — we had, trying to think of how many employees there were at the time,  about 25 or 30 I forget the exact number employee that I was. When you have a HubSpot-like exit you remember the exact number, when you don’t you can round to within five.

Jenn Steele: I think I’m one of about 10 to 15 people who claim employee number 90. I heard that Kipp, HubSpot’s CMO, claims 90. I’m like, I remember when Kipp started — he was not number 90.

Joe Hyland: That’s funny. I had Kipp on our podcast a couple of months ago. I wish the order had been reversed so I could have asked him that. So, I yeah, I was whatever, 25th or 30th employee. So, we had no infrastructure. We had under a million dollars in revenue. We were the definition of get shit done. We had no choice we had six months of cash by design. So there was no like, “Joe take 90 days. Let’s have a grandiose marketing plan. Let’s do you know to to five-year planning.” Fuck that, there was none of that. It was, “How do we get more? We have a hundred people to the next webinar. Do you have an idea for how we get 500 people?” And that was like my first project.

And anyway, I say that because — and while we did get shit done, I remember, I don’t know, four or six weeks — and so a couple weeks from now for you, I looked at my marketing plan and it was all tactics. And I was disappointed in myself, right? I’d it was a slippery slope that I didn’t mean to slide down but because there so much change that needs to happen right then that I didn’t have the luxury of drawing out a real plan. So, I carved out about three hours a week. It was less than half a day, I remember it like it was yesterday, to just do planning. And I would just go off by myself, there was really no team, I had one other person. And I just did long-term planning. And then the other 60 or 70 hours a week were tactics, which were important to us at the time. When I started at ON24, we had been around since 2001. We were profitable, we had over a thousand customers. So, while there were things that I wanted to change immediately, there was already existing team in place like operations were already set up. So, instead, I had much more of a traditional onboarding. Which, for me helped, because I could put in the proper structure and foundation. But you don’t always get that luxury.

It would be interesting. I don’t know if I would do it differently at a startup. I don’t know if I would actually put in the proper foundation because I didn’t know what I didn’t know — it was an industry. Had I taken the time to put in a ninety or a hundred and eighty day plan, I think I probably would have changed anyway.

Jenn Steele: Well, I mean, any plan only last for me about as long as it takes me to present it, fix it and send it back out again, but realize I’m not taking forever to plan — I’ve got a draft of it right now that just has, “Okay here are big challenges, here’s the values of the marketing team should strive for etcetera,” but also, “and here’s the tactics for my next 18 months and I budget please.” And the answer for 2018. I’m pretty sure, is going to be “no” at least they let me buy Bizible. So, and in 2019, it’s going to be “we’ll talk about it.”

But I think that most of us end up somewhere in the middle between, and I also think that our definition of strategy versus tactics gets a little weird and funky sometimes, too. We throw around the words a lot and it’s like, “Well is strategy just a bundle of tactics or is it just a problem statement you’re trying to solve or what is that again?”

You know, we’re all so fuzzy on what the word “strategy” means that I can claim to be strategic, I’m still not sure exactly what it is.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I appreciate the honesty. I also like the fact that tactic for some reason has become a four-letter word for many marketers, right?

Jenn Steele: It’s just a tactic.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean that is kind of like everything we do ultimately is a tactic, right? That’s what you and I are doing right now. “Oh we just want to be strategic,” like I don’t actually want to talk on a podcast, right? No, that’s tactical.

Jenn Steele: Yeah.

Joe Hyland: So, you started after your —first of all that’s amazing, I’ve spoken to no one who’s had such a major career shift before they turn 30.

Jenn Steele: Well, that was not before I turned 30 just so … I spent over a decade in I.T. and I did graduate from college so you can do some math there.

Joe Hyland: Okay, so you didn’t start an it when you were 14, got it. Okay, well, so you started in marketing and martech. I did not. I had about 15 years in marketing before my first job in martech and I was really excited. I thought, man, marketing to marketers will be amazing, which it is. I love that part of the job. What I…to say, I hate it would be too strong of a word… I strongly dislike this quid pro quo nature that exists amongst many, many marketers where it’s just a whole bunch of people buying each other’s technology versus actually trying to solve a problem and help accomplish something.

Jenn Steele: I mean, what do you mean, Madison Logic is ON24 customer, are you not a Madison Logic customer?

Joe Hyland: Exactly, we should work on that. Did I say I hate it? I meant I love it.

Jenn Steele: Okay. There we go. I’m with you. I’m like, do we only sell to martech companies.

Joe Hyland: Its feels yeah, it feels like a bit of an echo chamber and its really and for you with Madison Logic — I don’t think it’s as bad in New York. I mean, it’s a real problem in San Francisco where you’re really just not talking to other martech providers. I don’t actually think that’s a way to build a winning business. So, you’ve only been at Madison Logic for three weeks, and it was a long time ago that you were at HubSpot, I’d be curious to get your perspective on how B2B Marketing in the martech space has changed in the last decade there.

Jenn Steele: Remember, I did go from Bizible to Madison logic. So, I have spent the last year in martech. I think I was telling you before the podcast that I was actually really relieved to get back into martech. Like, it’s a really fun space to me — marketing to marketers.

I’m a no-bullshit person and that I love the fact that like we just have to be honest with each other because we’re probably going to hire each other for our next jobs or something like that, right? Or we’re gonna help each other get to quota or whatever that is, or I’m going to copy your wet messaging not saying that I’m actually going to do that, but somebody will someday.

I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten what question you asked me.

Joe Hyland: Yes. It’s what it’s like being in martech. So, you’re right. You and I, probably more so than most people, we try to be brutally honest — we have been in this half an hour. I don’t think marketers in martech are, I think there’s a lot of bullshit just being served up to each other.

Jenn Steele: My favorite is the list that we keep giving each other awards.

Joe Hyland: Yes.

Jenn Steele: Yes, and I haven’t managed to find my way onto any of those listed. I’m not sure whether I should be relieved or offended.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, well it means you’re not paying someone enough money.

Jenn Steele: Oh, darn, so that’s the problem.

Joe Hyland: Someone who used to work for me got on a 30-under-30 or 40-under-40 list by one of our vendors who we paid the most — it was vendor we paid a lot of money to. And it was really nice for him and I was happy for this guy, but it was like, “Man, this is so silly. Do people really see what’s happening here?”

Jenn Steele: Oh, yeah, it’s like nominations are open for this and that and next thing. It’s like the 43 people who are “blah.”  I’ll bet you a quarter it’s all 43 people who got nominated and I’ll bet at least 20 of those are prospects and the other 23 are customers.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. So, what’s exciting for me and what I love is I can get on the phone with someone like you and just geek out on marketing. I love that. In my last space we sold to procurement and treasury — and while I was capable of talking about financial arbitrage and working capital, it wasn’t exactly something I was passionate about, right? That was work for me.

We’re talking marketing, which is not. That part of it I love — I could just do without some of the veneer that exist within the space, I guess.

Jenn Steele: We do. Yeah, we believe a lot of our own BS.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. I know. I think it’s dangerous when you start reading your own press clipping, so.

Okay, cool. Well, this just felt like it was five minutes. We’re at the were bottom of the hour.

Jenn Steele: Yeah,

Joe Hyland: I know Superfast right? Well, this has been amazing. I am excited to hear what happens in week four for you at Madison Logic. So, please, please, keep us in the loop. I would love it. If you sent if you don’t mind sending me the first hundred day playbook. I’ll include it below the this recording so people can check it out and I haven’t actually seen it myself. So I’d love to see it as well.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely will do.

Joe Hyland: Awesome, Jenn. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Jenn Steele: Thanks for having me. This was fun.

CMO Confessions Ep. 8, Redback Consulting’s Sara Gonzalez

Hi everyone and welcome to yet another edition of CMO Confessions. Last week I promised you a double-whammy and I’m here to finally deliver. This week, we have someone truly special — Sara Gonzalez, CMO of Redback Consulting.

Sara took the time out of her busy schedule to speak to a few key items that I think us marketers here in the Americas need to keep in mind. First, things in the Americas aren’t all that different from things in APAC — and that’s largely due to their scrappy, agile nature to service a truly massive region. Second, that the ideas of B2B and B2C markets are largely a misnomer — people tend to buy things the same way. Finally, and this is something I could not agree with anymore, that marketing needs refocus its energies on strategy — and not to confuse it with tactics.

A few housekeeping items to take care of before we dive into it. First, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in Ppodbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Second, Sara has helped pen an excellent eBook entitled, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” which you can find here. She and her colleague, Rob Brown also hosted a webinar on the subject, which you can listen to here. I highly recommend it.

Third, well, there’s not much for third. It’s time to get into it. Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week all the way from Sydney is Sara Gonzales CMO of Simple. Sarah, you doing?

Sara Gonzales:

Good morning, how are you?

Joe Hyland:

Good afternoon. All right, so just a little bit about you from my perspective Sarah and feel free to jump in and then we can dive into what we’re going to talk about today.

Sarah, you help marketers removed the complexity and becoming more efficient through the reinvention of marketing resource management software. That rolls right off the tongue. Give us a little more from your take on what that means.

Sara Gonzales:

You did pretty well. So, thank you. Similar to yourself — marketing to marketers — and one of the things that we see here at Simple, and we see it globally as well as its massive issue of complexity when it comes to marketers. So, we’ve got so many channels to market. We’ve got so many, you know, abundance of tools that we need to use as well and, you know, MarTech space is getting bigger and it’s getting more complex.

So, Simple provides software to actually manage all those tools and connect the brand the customer experience. So, think of it as your strategic up-planning tool to manage execution tools below.

Joe Hyland:

That’s fantastic and you’re doing some really cool things — I can’t wait to talk about it. One thing I’ve been asked by my team to point out was below in the description we’ll have a link to your ebook, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” where you discuss everyday modern marketing drags and how you combat that, fight against it and bring the joy back to your job.

So, with that do you want to start off? I’m a pretty optimistic person but I’ll start off on a pessimistic topic — let’s start with what you don’t like about marketing. What are some of the drags of marketing?

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the big pain points I think that grind us every day. I think one thing I don’t like, especially about B2B marketing, is that we call it B2B marketing still. I find, that marketing in general we talk about it being around the customer experience, but we tend to treat customers different; their buying behaviors,  the customer journey — based on whether we’re selling B2B or B2C — and I feel like every single person buys the same way. If you’re the CEO of a company or, Joe, you’re the CMO, you know when you actually go and buy something personally or B2B it’s a very similar journey.

So, I feel like sometimes we get really bogged down in there and I think that’s impacting especially B2B marketing and the way that we go out there and the way that we market. I don’t know what your thoughts on that are, but I just feel like if we want to own the customer experience, maybe we should understand the customer a little bit more.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, these are people, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Funny story, I won’t name the company but I worked for an electronic payments company — I was in product marketing so I did not own the brand at the time — and we came out with a new corporate template and it was pictures of buildings.

And they said, “Oh, our CEO loves this because we sell the big banks.” And I said, “Yeah, but there’s those are people we sell to, like we don’t sell to  skyscrapers.” Yeah, so this is people that people marketing, right? It’s not business-to-business marketing.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and I think just on that and I know the customer experience thing is massive and we’ve actually just done some research into our later study. We’ve done some research into the customer experience and how people, as marketers, actually manage or try to manage it. And one of the stats that came out of it is 59 percent of marketers actually said that their CMO or their marketing team was responsible for managing that customer experience and 87 percent said the brand consistency is really important, but it’s you know, very, very rare that they have any control over their messaging or their visual appearance or their personalities.

So, it’s sort of like we own it and we want to but we’re not really doing anything about it. So, I feel like there’s a bit of confusion for marketers which sort of gets my grind a bit. And, you know, the rest of the company has to sort of own that as well.

You need to be able to have control over those points if you want to own the customer experience in a true way. So, I think that’s something um that know I struggle with on a daily basis.

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s a fantastic point. Not that I’ve been doing this forever, but the coming up on a couple decades now — I got my haircut yesterday and there was a shocking amount of white hair on the on the ground— I saw in the last ten years, I’ve seen a real rise in the strategic nature of marketing, which is exciting. I see more and more marketers earning pipeline, which I think is really cool. But I think you were right that the next big movement, in my opinion, among marketers and marketing is going to be owning the customer experience. Because, you and I aren’t just doing our job if we get the message out and we help companies or people come and buy from us, right? Like what’s that experience? Like the entire life cycle? I think we should own that.

Sara Gonzales:

And, you know, at my previous company we had a lot of people come into our office to actually run events and a few other things and one of the things we made sure of is that we also in we also met with the customer support team on a regular basis — the frontline people. So, you could do everything as a marketer and you could create this brand and you create this, you know, there’s personality behind what you’re doing and then someone answers the phone for someone who calls the support line and they really piss someone off — there you go, that’s shut down. But you know, we started to work with our actual physical company, if you like, when people came in and our close ratio, when sales people brought people into the office actually increased because people came in and they felt this, “Oh, actually I get what your culture is like and I get them people and I want to be part of that journey.”

So, I think if you can start to own that or find ways that you can impact that then, you know, it’s a quick win almost and it’s something that’s just going to tie everything together.

Joe Hyland:

That’s a good point. That’s a more manageable way to start owning the experience, right? And then perhaps the real North Star, or utopia, is owning the digital experience. So you’re right that you got to start somewhere, right? So why not have it be the experience of when someone comes into the office?

Sara Gonzales:

Yes, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So, Sarah and I were in Sydney — was that four weeks ago, Sarah? It was about a month ago.

Sara Gonzales:

It’s gone really quick, yeah.

Joe Hyland:

So Sara spoke at our conference, Webinar World Sydney. I had to travel a little further than you did. We talked about some cool things. One of the things we talked about was the perception of marketers in Asia-Pacific.

First I love that, I like that those of us in the U.S. think that Asia-Pacific’s a really small region. It’s kinda big. Like a little big. No, but seriously, what is it about your market — the market, at least your region because your global — but where you live, where marketers tend to discount the sophistication of your marketing. That seems absurd to me.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, I feel like it maybe has stemmed back before my time.

Joe Hyland:

There we go.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, just the fact that Australians especially have been behind, or, you know, everything can come a little bit later than Americans, especially. But I feel like that now, we’re seen as being part of the APAC region now — you even got Japan in there as well. There is so many amazing things happening over here, but I don’t know if it’s the time delay or the accent or the weather.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s the accent.

Sara Gonzales:

It has to be something…

Joe Hyland:

Here’s what’s absurd about it to me. So, you and I are both fortunate enough to run marketing for pretty cool companies. So, that’s fantastic. But we have the same challenges.

So, I don’t necessarily view that my challenges any different from yours, suddenly. They’re different companies. So, first, the challenges are the same. When I was down there — and I came down twice now in the last year — I saw really sophisticated digital marketing from you and your peers. So, I guess I don’t really see how this is grounded in reality.

Sara Gonzales:

I think, and you know what, I think it is changing now, slowly. And I think one of the reasons why people are actually looking to this region and saying, “You know what, you guys are actually getting shit done and you actually know what you’re doing,” is the fact that we are a lot smaller and we’re actually starting to take advantage of that. Because, now that we are smaller, we’ve taken a step back and said, “You know what, we can be a little bit more agile and we’re more nimble.”

That means we can increase our velocity and we can also get stuff done and we can be sort of trailblazers in certain key areas. And yeah, we don’t have the capacity a lot of companies, especially a lot of startup companies, down here. We’ve sort of you know, we’re the second round of Silicon Valley if you like. And we look to you guys over there and we’re like, “Oh.” You know, and start ups are massive over here. And we’ve got massive hubs that are invested in startups down here as well.

So, I think there’s a lot of learnings that we’ve taken from you guys over there and I brought them down here. But we’ve just sort of adapted them and we made them our own. So I think now, you know, Simple, as well, our company, we’re doing the opposite of most companies where we’re a start-up Down Under and we’re taking that to the U.S.

Obviously, there are some challenges there. But I think a lot of companies over in the U.S, —and you would know this at ON24, Joe, starting up in Australia — there are a few little differences. But, like you said, a lot of it is the same challenges, and it comes down to that fact that we’re all people. And we all you know, wake up. We all go to bed. We all do the same thing. I think the perception has to change — not necessarily around a location or what we’re doing — but the fact that it’s person-to-person marketing if you like.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no. No, that’s right. Every individual at a company has a goal, a challenge, whether it’s personal or professional and great marketing is still mapping how you can solve those challenges, right? So, for me, that’s why it’s just a little silly. I think, joking aside, a lot of it is the time difference. I think that you’re in the middle of some pretty big oceans and it’s very far away from from the U.S.

I even see — I do this as well. I set up a call for us on Friday for the team and our team in Sydney said, “Is it okay if we don’t call in? It’s Saturday at 2:00 in the morning.” I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. So I think it’s just because it’s so far away. Very front of mind — a huge focus. But yeah, you can call in on Saturday at 2 a.m., right? That’s okay.

I have one question that I feel like Australians are quite proud of and they would in no way think that they’re behind America in which is coffee. So, the only complaint we got from our conference was “Conference was great, loved the content, speakers were phenomenal, the venue was first-class — you had absolute shit coffee.” So, talk to me about how Australians view their coffee.

Sara Gonzales:

You know, I did notice that at the conference — and I was looking for proper coffee because you guys have just the copy that you pour. Just like basic coffee…

Joe Hyland:

…You see? Just like classic Americans, right?

Sara Gonzales:

…Kettle coffee, we call it. When I was over there I remember sitting down one morning and I had a bit coffee and they came up — I was in San Jose — and she’s like, “Refill?” And I was like, “No no, no, it’s fine. Keep that away from me.” Yeah, it actually all started in Melbourne.

So, Melbourne is like the hipster place of Sydney, if you like. Marketing genius as well. Like, I couldn’t live in Melbourne because I’m not cool enough to live in Melbourne — that’s just a fact. I’d have to judge myself, what I wear every day,  “Is cool enough? Is this a few weeks ago?” You know, the trend.

Yeah, they’re very trendy and it’s all about the beards — and if your Barista who’s making your coffee doesn’t have a beard or a man bun, I think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a non-starter. Yeah, you got to have a man bun.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, exactly. So, let’s come over here and Sydney’s trying to be a bit like that. But, yeah, coffee is massive over here.

Joe Hyland:

Are they are they are they good marketers in Melbourne or is this just more hipster coffee scene?

Sara Gonzales:

I think just Baristas and coffee and, you know, the whole — even the coffee cups that you got us — there’s is outrage over here now because… So, I don’t know if you know this at ON24. So, simple one of our pieces of swag was a keep cup.

Joe Hyland:

I didn’t.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the cups where you keep and you walk around and you put your coffee in them because the actual coffee cups over here — a lot of marketers actually use them in terms of branding. So, if I was, you know, in selling something that was related to coffee I could go and give the coffee shop cups and say, “Hey can use my cups?” And, you know, people walk around with them. It’s great exposure. However, those cups are not really recyclable. And they don’t actually break down. So, now they’re actually proposing that they — over here on cigarettes, they have those warning labels with disgusting images — and proposing they do that on coffee cups now.

So, the coffee is great, but the amount of controversy that’s coming around coffee right now is whole other level.

Joe Hyland:

That would not fly over here. Do not tell Americans what to do. Do not regulate a thing. Yeah, that wouldn’t. That well, actually, it’s not true — in San Francisco that would be very popular.

Okay, we’ll get back into things. So, one of the things I love most about my job is, like, this. Like, how cool is it that part of my job is having a discussion with a peer? Like having a marketing discussion. Your role is cool and what you guys do at Simple as cool because I think at least, you’re helping marketers with their strategy.

I’ll talk to a lot of marketers and they’ll do one of two things. I’ll say, you know, “What’s your strategy, what are you trying to accomplish?” They’ll either list a whole bunch of tactics — I’m gonna do a white paper, I’m gonna do a webinar, I’m gonna do a blog — It’s like, okay, well, let’s not confuse a tactic with it a strategy. Or, and this is particularly bad here in Silicon Valley, we’ll just list a whole bunch of types of technology. “Oh well, I’m doing ABM, right? I know, I’m redoing my website.” And they list all this tech that they’re using — which is cool, but again, I don’t know if it’s grounded in a foundation of how to solve their business problem. So, you get to help marketers with their strategy, right? Like, I feel like that would be empowering and really cool.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, so, obviously managing, having a place to manage all those channels is important. And, in essence, that’s part of what our software does, but the other part of it is taking a step back.

One of the things we’re looking to do is getting markers to remember why they even fell in love with marketing in the first place. And I think a lot of that is, you know, there’s so much data around now and you know, it started off with creativity. And one of the things people are saying to us, you know, originally why they fell in love and why they still come back to marketing is that perfect blend of art and science together.

So, we’re no longer the crayon department and we’re no longer just about pretty pictures. We’ve got data or we’ve got science and we can actually use that — not to only justify what we’re doing and prove what we’re doing — but we can also start to make that impact. When it comes to revenue, and like you said, on the sales side, managing pipelines, but one of the things that we find is the tool that we don’t have actually piece this all together is — hate to plug ourselves but something like this — so, you know briefing, right? You know, you’ve got to write a brief. You’ve got to get a campaign out and for someone like myself, and even a lot of marketers we speak to, the brief seems to be the other forgotten child almost. Let’s do a brief, a few bullet points let’s put it together. Let’s suddenly run a campaign and then, you know what, suddenly the campaign doesn’t work.

So, you look to the tool that you use, or you look to your budget, or your look to the people who ran it and you look at all these tactics and you don’t actually look back to the brief and actually align that with the goal that you had in the first place. So, we find that’s a massive disconnect over here. So, what we’re trying to do is bring intelligence into this and say, “Okay, how can we use the brief and get marketers a place where they can actually keep going back to the brief and use it as their anchor point, almost. So, then they can actually fully understand how their tools are performing, what’s actually happening, how everything comes together.”

Because otherwise, I feel like we’re just blaming it on, you know, because we’ve got MarTec there and that, so we’re going to blame it on the piece of technology or, you know, we’ve got a sales team. So they’re going to turn around and blame it on that, but we’re not actually looking at the full picture and we’ve got way too much data.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, we have too much data I could talk about all day long. I think the problem is even worse than what you just described. I think so many marketers — and there’s so much — it’s a good problem to have, marketing isn’t just the pretty colors anymore so there’s pressure on marketers to grow and there’s so much pressure that we just want to do more, and more, and more and do it quicker, and quicker, and quicker and it’s like don’t worry about analyzing it — we’ll just figure it out. We don’t have time to analyze.

I think a lot of marketers — when you talked about a poor man’s or a light brief — I question how many marketers are even putting together a brief before a program.

And are they doing a proper post-mortem? I would criticize ourselves.  A couple years ago — so I’ve been running our marketing for three years — a couple years ago we ran a campaign, we had a brief. Like, I think we put a lot of thought into it, ran a campaign; it didn’t work. That’s okay, not everything will work — and there were people on our team that didn’t want to do a post-mortem. It was like, “We don’t have time to analyze why it didn’t work. We need to move on to the next thing.” It’s like well, “Don’t you think we’re at risk of just repeating the same mistakes if we don’t actually go back and analyze it?” So, I think that is more and more common than many people realize.

Sara Gonzales:

 And you know, there’s this some look it up, if you don’t know about it, there’s this famous campaign over here in Australia called, “Dumb ways to Die,” and it’s pretty much it’s hilarious, the creative is amazing and it’s about cartoon characters showing. The whole idea was to — a lot of people actually die on train tracks over here. So, a lot of young kids so cross the train tracks, I’ll get hit by a train or they’ll be graffiti on train tracks. So, it’s actually a really big problem.

But there they actually put a spin on it and it was literally the little cartoon characters with their bodies getting chopped off. And they had this really catchy song and it was great. And the amount of views and the amount of virality it got ‚ it just went everywhere. It was really shareable, social media went off. But actually — everyone spoke about that and they won all these awards — but when they actually go back to it, and this is something they didn’t actually advertise, obviously, more people actually died on trains that year.

So, that’s an example of, you know, you’ve got something out there and we’re like we want to be more than just a creative department and we want to be more than just pretty pictures. But you’re actually measuring your success by something creative if you’re not actually measuring results.

So, to me, that’s like, well, you know we want this but do we really? Is it just easier to sort of just tick something off the box and win an award for it? So I feel like yeah massive disconnect once again.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s a super good point. I agree that great marketing is the mix of Art and Science — it’s what’s fun about marketing for me. I love the intersection of these two things.

I found a couple of things interesting here. One, I think a lot of marketers didn’t go into marketing because they’re data-driven if you will, though I don’t really love that phrase, but so I think sometimes it’s a challenge. I think, you know, it’s not necessarily a first love. And then the second point I would make is —our observation — is that there’s so much data today. Like, I find in — we use Marketo — so, if you open up a lead record in Marketo and you look under the activity history or their interesting moments — there might be hundreds of interesting moments. What am I supposed to do with that?

I find it’s hard to make sense or see trends in these seas of data.

Sara Gonzales:

And it’s funny because I feel since automation has come about — and I’m a massive Marketo fan as well — but automation has come about and we’ve got all these data but I feel like you sort of manually need to go through it. And you need to actually have this Instinct. So, there’s the instinct that comes into marketing because you’ll go through it — and there are certain things that you can’t have a robot pick up, right? — so If you do go through those hundred records, you’re going to need an inside sales person or someone to go, “Oh actually that’s interesting” and in their head tie it back to something.

So yeah, I find it really interesting as well and I think you know — on that point — the whole impact of AI and how it’s going to impact marketing and all the machine learning and everything like that. You’re still going to need people there because you’ve still got — marketers have that instinct about certain things and I think it’s probably maybe 25 percent of what I do. That feeling, it’s like, “Oh I know this is right and I’m looking at data there and I can see the patterns.” So yeah, I think that’s an interesting point.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, and the art doesn’t go away like I don’t I um, I don’t yeah, the Geeks are kind of coming into to marketing. I mean, I think that influx has occurred. But one of my one of my first bosses — I was a year out of college — and I said, “Well actually doesn’t matter what the email copy is and what the subject line is, we’ll test everything, we’ll A/B test it.” And he said, “Well, you know, any idiot or a monkey can just throw a dart board and just keep adjusting but like great marketing is knowing your audience.” And like right like there is some gut feel and there is really knowing your personas inside and out so you don’t have to A/B test everything. So, yeah, people aren’t going anywhere. Marketing departments when they get more money, they’re still hiring people, right? Like, I don’t see everything being outsourced or everything being automated.

Sara Gonzales:

Yea absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, what are your views on AI in marketing? Are you guys using any? Are you anti-AI? Do you think it’s the wave of the future? What are your thoughts?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, our new platform has been built on Microsoft. So, we’ve got massive potential to bring the intelligence into it. And we will. But I feel like for us it’s so big. And over here there’s so many conferences and every now and then — you have these run of conferences every year, Joe,  and you go to them — and there’s something really shiny people love, you know. Two months ago it was all about blockchain. It’s all about machine learning and it’s all spoken — up here.

So, as a marketer you go there and you get really excited and you go back to your desk and it’s like, “Oh, you know, this is what I learned and it’s like, well, how does it actually apply to me as a matter? How am I going to use that?”

So I think that the potential is massive and I think, like you said, I’m not scared of it — I think if anything it’s going to increase jobs within marketing because you still need that human element. But what I do think is that there’s very few organizations, especially software companies, out there telling us how it’s going to impact what we do every day, how it’s going to help us tie everything back to that customer experience. And you can have great technology, but it’s not going to solve all of our problems. And I think, as marketers, who are selling technology out there, you need to if you could go out and say, “Here’s how this is going to impact what you do every day and here’s how you’re going to be able to tie that back to your goals.” If you do that, you’re going to go into a winner.

So, I think, as a company, that’s our next challenge and how we do that. Because, like I said, we’ve got so much potential with so much technology, but not everyone needs it all.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, totally. Great marketing is about the “why” not the “what,” right? Like, I think if I could give advice to myself 15 or 20 years ago, it would be always focus on the strategy and the foundation first and don’t rush the tactics. I think we all sprint to the deliverables — they are tactics and they’re critical to executing on the strategy, but it, in fact, starts with the strategy.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. So, I have a question, which I don’t think you’ll see coming. So, when we were over in Sydney, I was…

Sara Gonzales:

It’s early for that

Joe Hyland:

It is early there, right? Yes, but I won’t stop you. This is actually easy for you. But I don’t think you think I’m gonna ask it. When I was over there, I was incredibly impressed with how sophisticated you are with your digital and webinar marketing — and we’re not going to be able to show that over a podcast, right? But, I think our listeners would benefit from hearing you talk for a minute or two on your views on digital marketing how you’re doing content and webinars,  how you look at your strategy to drive attendance, keep engagement during a live event, actually have an on-demand strategy. Like, you’re doing some really cool things and I was pretty impressed and I think people would love to hear it for 90 or 120 seconds.

Sara Gonzales:

Firstly thank you. It’s nice to hear that.  Secondly, I think and I mentioned this to you while you over here that webinars are pretty dirty over here —and they’ve got a bit of a bad reputation.

I think, for us, webinars are not just something that we have to do as a tactic. So, going back to your point, they’re part of the bigger picture. So our content — we create a lot of content because marketers love content, right? And part of our content strategy you know webinars come into that. So like I said, they’re an extension of the content that we create. So, any given month we have a key theme, and like I said, too, we’ve released its research report and this is probably a good example because I was really impressed with how this worked out two days ago.

We created this research report. We went and interviewed 300 marketers and we came up with these amazing results. So we’ve got the results, we’ve got some nice pretty graphs, but how do we actually disseminate that information actually start a conversation around it?

So ,firstly we partnered with the Australian Marketing Institute over here. As the peak body and to also give them credibility and then we did a co-webcast with them. On the webcast, though, and our webinars — I call it a webcast but this sort of interchangeable, arrive? I don’t want to get caught up in semantics.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, same yes,

Sara Gonzales:

And this is great, having a webcam, but in terms of engaging marketers and I think even, you know, understanding that webinars are an extension of your brand we have panel discussions. So, it’s almost like TV on the internet, if you like.

So, everyone who downloads the report gets invited to a discussion, but the people on this discussion is myself, who’s interviewing one of our key customers in the financial services — and she’s really big on compliance and she’s passionate about probably three key areas that we were speaking about — another one of our prospects and then also our chief product officer.

So we started having this conversation around the results. First of all, within the platform we started, people — before we went into the results, for example — one of the questions might have been what’s your biggest struggle with briefing? We actually use polls to actually ask the audience what their struggles were and then we actually showed them the results so they can actually feel like they’re part of the study.

Joe Hyland:

So you make it interactive, right? Rather than just like a talking PowerPoint for an hour, like you’re literally asking people for their feedback and then the dialogue changes based off what they say.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and then compare it to the actual study and then have the people talkin about the studies. So it’s much more of a conversation. Utilize the resource folder to actually then upload the report and other pieces of content that we have relating to the report. Because once people are actually on that event the more you can engage and the more sort of content you can give them is obviously going to benefit you and also the data you’re collecting. But now that we’ve got that we’re actually going to break down that panel discussion into — I think we know that down into eight different short videos that we can use and repurpose for marketing content.

So, one of the things that I said to you as well afterwards is not everyone wants to sit down and watch a 45-minute recording. And we only had 40 percent attendance on that event. But those are the 60 percent of people, they can choose to watch the 45 minutes or they can choose to watch maybe a five-minute segment or something they’re interested in. So, it’s really…

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s an important point and I’ll interrupt for one second because… So,you’re right so you got four out of 10 people who registered to show up. It’s easy to focus is easy to just say, “Okay, well, that’s my new audience. That’s all I care about.” You keep them really engaged with these polling strategies right and making it interactive but then afterwards you have a different strategy for the 60 percent.

Sara Gonzales:

Yep. Yeah, right. So I love that. Yeah, and that way we’re engaging people, you know, not just within that one day and you know our investments for that one hour then turns into a six to 12-month investment as well.

Joe Hyland:

Ah, yeah, that’s smart. Have you measured — speaking of Art and Science ‚ the impact of sending follow-up emails to the those who registered but didn’t attend —with the shorter content versus the full 45-minute discussion panel webinar — did you see different results?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, one of the things we do with our webinar marketing before during and after we’ve got sales development reps and we get those guys involved. So, first of all their text-based emails and their conversations with people, as opposed to an HTML email going out from marketing. So, it’s from a person her name’s Jenna she’s had contact with them for a while, and we actually see in terms — even the quick ratio that we get for people watching the on-demand content — it’s probably around 30 percent of the people afterwards actually go to watch those shorter videos.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, that’s great.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, it’s something we’ve only started this year and it is a little bit more difficult with the editing process afterwards. But,  even looking back like you said to their profile in Marketo and saying, “Okay, this person has actually downloaded a lot of content that revolves around compliance. So let’s make sure that they receive the compliance video.” And in the flow, we make sure that they’re receiving using keywords to actually send them content that they’re probably more interested in as opposed to something like reporting.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Um, yeah. No, that’s fantastic. And I think it’s also really smart that you guys have your SDRs involved throughout the process. I mean, if it’s a demand generation use case, which it sounds like this is, I think having pre-sales involved from the start is smart, right?

That way doesn’t feel like a jolting experience and afterwards someone is reaching out to them.

Sara Gonzales:

Definitely.

Joe Hyland:

Okay cool. Well, we are at the top of the half hour. You and I could do this probably for the next 45 minutes and I feel like time would fly by, but I want to wrap things up.

Sarah, this was this was fantastic. I’m gonna look up Dumb Ways to Die. I was not familiar with this campaign. So I’m excited. It sounds like you guys are on a mission over at Simple to make marketers great again. That is a phrase that is …

Sara Gonzales:

You always have to throw that in, right?

Joe Hyland:

I said very similar…

Sara Gonzales:

 I’m not making that a thing, Joe. I’m not going to use it — stop trying to…

Joe Hyland:

Sorry, once I say it for the third time it sticks. You said webinars are dirty over here, so we’re gonna have to dig into that next time. But it seems like you’re cleaning things up and you’re doing a great job with it. So that…

Sara Gonzales:

I’ll take one for the team.

Joe Hyland:

You’ll take one for the team, thank you. With that, let’s wrap up Sarah. Thanks again. This was this was fantastic.

Sara Gonzales:

Thanks, Joe.

Joe Hyland:

All right by everyone.

CMO Confessions Ep. 7, Sam MeInick

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions. It’s been a busy few weeks, but we have a double-whammy for you to tune into to make up for it.

First, we have Sam Melnick, VP of marketing at Allocadia. Sam is a seasoned marketing pro who approaches his field with an eye on statistics, a la sabermetrics, and a deep understanding of how to measure ROI. Sam’s insights into how marketers measure success are remarkable — not the least of which is because we both hail from Boston.

You can find Sam and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @SamMelnick.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Later this week, we’ll have Sara Gonzalez of Simple on to discuss how she approaches marketing in Australia and APAC in general. It’s another great episode and I highly recommend you tune in.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and this week I am psyched to have a fellow Bostonian, Sam Melnick, VP of marketing at Allocadia, on. Sam, how’s it going?

Sam Melnick:

I’m doing well. Thanks for having me. It’s always great to reconnect with the East Coast. Allocadia is a West Coast company, we’re based out of Vancouver, and I’ve got a Slack channel that’s called East Coast, Beast Coast. So, you’d be a member if you if you’re ever on our Slack channel, all right?

Joe Hyland:

I like it, thank you. Yeah, no people. Some friends of mine, rightly so, give me shit that the only Boston thing about me now is my six-one-seven area code and otherwise I’ve converted so. But at heart, I’m still a Boston dude.

Sam Melnick:

Well, there you go. As long as you got the six-one-seven will keep you.

Joe Hyland:

I will literally have that for the rest of my life until Verizon forces a regional area code.

Well, listen, I’m as I said, I’m psyched and thankful that you’re taking the time to be with me and our audience today. You’ve got some cool experience. I love you’ve been doing this stuff for well over a decade. I’d love to get your take on how you got to where you are today because I think — and I’ll start there — because I think it’s interesting that there’s not a one-size-fits-all path or approach to leading marketing and I think your approach and your path is actually pretty cool. So, you want to give us a couple minutes on that?

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, sure, absolutely. I wouldn’t quite call myself an accidental head of marketing, but I certainly didn’t start off my career being like, “I’m gonna be a VP of marketing or CMO.” I actually went to school, at UMass Amherst for sport management and I was supposed to be the next Theo Epstein. I actually started my career off running a small baseball team and working for a sport marketing agency.

I eventually found my way into tech, where I worked in marketing at a start-up — a 30-person start up in Boston. But then I pivoted over to an analyst role at IDC in a group called the CMO advisory service. So, we worked with large marketing organizations or large companies at large tech companies. So, like IBM, Dell, Cisco — all those types of companies were customers of ours. And we covered the marketing operation space and worked with CMOs on how they design their organization and where they spend their dollars and their resources.

And that was, you know, — analyst was an amazing experience because you get to talk with all of these people who have so much more experience than you and different experiences — I’ve seen so much scale — but you get to learn from 20, 30, 40 people on how they’re taking on marketing. And that kind of that’s slung-shot me into the MarTech space, because I started hearing about all these cool Technologies — you know, the ON24s the allocate of the world and I started creating a list of different interesting MarTech SaaS companies because I saw this growing. Like, I would, tweet back and forth with Scott Brinker before anyone knows who Scott Brinker was. Like, I saw this Market growing and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was a believer that SaaS technologies were going to be the differentiator and so I ended up at lattice engines and a customer-facing world.

So, Lattice is a predictive marketing organization — it’s customer-facing which, again, was amazing to learn from all these great marketers. But I missed marketing. I was kind of moonlighting as a product marketer and an analyst. I had written some content. I was doing sales enablement. I was kind of doing like a bunch of marketing stuff.

So, I decided I want to get back into marketing. Went to Allocadia. I got this opportunity to we called IT Director of Customer Marketing Insights. So, it was kind of part marketer, part analyst, part customer-facing kind of SME, subject matter expert.

Joe Hyland:

That’s cool. That’s a nice bridge, too.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, and then they I guess I did a good enough job and they offered me an opportunity to run the marketing team, and I said, “Yeah, let’s try that out.” And now I’ve been in that role for almost 18 months now and it’s been a lot of fun building out a team and learning something new here as well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you’ve given up the dream of running a baseball team one day or is that maybe act two after the B2B marketing world?

Sam Melnick:

Maybe act two. You know, the baseball team stuff was fun, but, I mean, I don’t know — as weird as it sounds the tech industry and marketing is almost as interesting to me now. I guess I’m a full-fledged marketing nerd.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you got to be a geek to love this stuff. Well, I think it’s interesting that — and we’ll talk about that — because maybe you don’t have to be a geek to love this stuff.

I think there’s an interesting comparison and, perhaps it’s somewhat analogous, on what’s happened in — and I say past tense, but it’s still happening in in baseball and other sports — with the Money Ball movement and really looking at the right metrics. And I think for literally decades or upwards of a century the wrong analytics was being applied to the wrong areas, or   the wrong metrics.

I think that’s happened in the B2B marketing space. And I think the Geeks are coming and, maybe, the Geeks are here. But what kind of points of comparison did you see from your time on the baseball side to what’s happening in marketing with attribution and analytics and kind of you name it?

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, no, I think it’s a really good comparison. I think it started off in a niche, to a certain extent. And not just B2B Tech, in particular, but in general, in B2B, you saw that early days, with the adopters of the Eloquas or the Marketos, they knew they needed to automate, they need knew they needed in different sorts of data. That’s when you really saw these in-depth funnel and funnel metrics and then it’s just grown. I mean, there’s been an industry that’s been almost built around, you know, Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua — to a lesser extent, the Pardots of the world and it’s created this opportunity for a bunch of cool companies. But, more importantly, technologies that help marketers’ jobs better and serve their customers better and get the data to answer those questions.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s interesting — one, I mean a lot of these metrics, I’ll pick on MQLs for a moment, a lot of these metrics are pretty easy to manipulate, right? Like, I think, for the longest time, marketers have been measured on something that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the end goal that you should have in mind, at least if it’s a Demand Gen use-case. An MQL would be a good example of that, right? If your marketing team is solely incented upon MQLs, there are pretty easy ways to artificially jack up the number of MQLs coming in the door. And I think that’s a little bit of a poor man’s approach to having true marketing attribution driven approach.

I’d love to hear your perspective on companies focusing on the wrong thing because I think the waterfall metrics and some of the companies you just referenced helped move the ball forward, but I also think it allowed people to focus on some of the wrong areas.

Sam Melnick:

For sure, and I think it’s you know, you asked about the comparison against sabermetrics, and I think in a similar sense you saw better Baseball analytic metrics come out, but they still weren’t like…

Joe Hyland:

Let’s geek out, like you go there…

Sam Melnick:

You want me to geek out? Okay, OPS, for baseball, was a very, basically, it’s on-base percentage, plus batting average, plus slugging percentage was one of the earlier days, kind of sabermetrics, but it really didn’t answer all the questions. And then later you started seeing stuff like wins above replacement come out. Which was more all-inclusive of how strong was that player. Whereas, in B2B marketing, you start with an MQL. An MQL is a hell of a lot better than how many website visitors ya get or, even worse — how many advertisements or how many PR press releases we want out — but it still isn’t closing that loop which, is more pipeline, revenue. That’s a I think that’s a pretty great comparison there — progress but not perfection.

Joe Hyland:

Do you think do you think the war for B2B marketing is pipeline? I mean, what is the wins above replacement metric for us?

Sam Melnick:

I think that’s a tough one because people want to focus in on revenue and pipeline and you have to be there. I’d say that’s the table stakes at this point — being able to measure at the very least pipeline and B2B marketing and marketing’s contribution and influence to that — it’s table stakes. But to say that’s the end-all be-all kinda of sells ourselves, as marketers, short. Because there’s so much more that goes into marketing and, unfortunately, you can’t tie a one-to-one comparison against it. Sometimes it’s because sales reps do a mediocre — I’m being kind — job of filling out contact roles in Salesforce and other times it’s a brand campaign that you’re not able to tie directly. So…

Joe Hyland:

Yeah

Sam Melnick:

…it’s a tough question to say, what is the war for B2B marketing, but it’s not pipeline and revenue.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s interesting. I think you raise an incredibly valid point is — I’m trying to think of a good sports analogy since around the baseball topic and one is not coming to mind — it is incredibly important metric. But, I think, an area of the business and, for us, we’re laser-focused on growth, so if my CEO, who has an office right next to me, were sitting in the room he probably would correct this statement — but yeah, it’s not just pipeline. Should marketing own customer experience? It’s very, we just we had a team meeting this morning and we were presenting out results for the quarter, and a major effort is underway to increase our brand and improve our brand. And there are ways to measure that, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of them are more qualitative, right?

So, there are important components outside of demand gen, for sure, what we did here and — for what it’s worth — is, when I got here — so I’ve been here for three years — there was a whole bunch of bullshit on marketing pointing at sales. Like, they’re not following up in the leads or not properly same thing back to marketing like, it’s not high enough quality. There were lots of excuses on both sides. And so, the head of sales and I got together, and I said, “How about I, slash marketing, we just own all just, so it will get the garbage out.” I don’t care where it’s coming from — we obviously care in terms of optimizing spend very much — but, you know, I’ll present it in the board and that way we’re aligned. I don’t know maybe that’s stupid of me, but that that’s how we do it here.

Sam Melnick:

No, I mean, we’ve had a couple of sales leaders through my time across different companies, for sure. And, right now, we’ve got probably the strongest sales and marketing alignment that I’ve seen, and it makes a difference. Because you’re focusing. We did a presentation at SiriusDecisions Summit with box and their mark one of their marketing operations leads. And what he said — Tim West is name — and what he said was for them, it was about — instead of arguing over the pieces of the pie — it was about growing the pie. And that’s where we want to get to with sales. How do you grow it? And give them credit?  Like, fine, it’s your credit, but as long as it’s growing, we’re all good, you know? Growing at the right rate.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, all boats can rise. That was the situation when I got here — we weren’t where we needed to be and instead of the discussion focused on how to solve that, I had my head of demand gen fighting with our North America head of sales on who should get credit for a deal that just came in. And it was like, “Who gives a shit? We’re not where we need to be — isn’t that the bigger challenge?” Okay, what you want to dive into —I think it’s great, there’s nothing more important than making sure we’re measuring the right things — but I would say, maybe two or three steps before that, is putting in place the proper foundation and in-fact having a rock-solid planning process. How do you how do you view that world? And how to you how do you either keep yourself or help keep other marketers out of the world of just having a whole bunch of tactics listed and they say, “Well there’s my strategy, I’m good, right?”

Sam Melnick:

I think it’s important because like they actually feed into each other. We’ve been talking at Allocadia a lot about planning. Part of it is where our product helps marketers, but it’s also that it’s that time of the year for large B2B companies — if you’re on a fiscal year calendar — you’re just coming into planning season. Because, typically, those multi-million, certainly billion-dollar companies they start their strategic planning and setting those plans in place six months in advance. And 60 to 70 percent of companies are on a fiscal year calendar or calendar fiscal.

And how I like to say it, and how we’re saying it, is, “It all starts with the plan.” You know? Your metrics starts with the plan because you’re setting up your data, you’re setting up what you’re going to achieve, you’re setting up how you’re going to measure it. If you just say, “All right, if we execute, execute, execute.” And say alright, “We want to measure these things.”

There’s no guarantee that your data has been set up correctly. There’s no guarantee that you’ve been putting your resources and efforts and your plan towards it. So, everything from metrics to data to certainly strategy and where you’re putting your activities, it starts with the plan and getting that down wherever it is and getting it bought in and online up, down, across.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the — I haven’t heard this said this way — but the death of the brief. Are you seeing companies being as diligent in their planning process and ensuring that they’re doing proper campaign briefs at the start? And then, on the on the other side, actually going through and having a post mortem.

Sam Melnick:

No, I mean, have you ever seen companies be really diligent on that? Do you have examples of that? They all say they do.

Joe Hyland:

I know, that’s right — I feel like in this world, where so much of marketing is coming down to pipeline and results — I’m seeing a we got to get shit done mindset, which is great. But to quote-unquote “get shit done,” they’re just cutting out the planning process. So, is that really a good idea? Yeah, no — it’s a problem.

Sam Melnick:

I agree and my team — and certainly we’re not the, you know, we’re not some of these huge companies that I used to work with that IDC and all those — but, like, we’re not perfect by any means. But we have, you talked about briefed — you kind of just tweaked me — my demand gen lead has put in a great process where she actually goes through each of the programs, shows the metrics, shows what was the positive and negative — and then we as a team, at least, pull out a few of them and do kind of a verbal brief, “This is what work this is what this is what we do different.”

It’s certainly not like a formal brief — you know, in this perfect world — but we’ve been doing that for the last few quarters and it’s really helpful because it helps us optimize and adjust and that’s really what you want. It’s like, “How do I do better next time?”

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I’m a big believer that many things in life are spectrum and it’s easy to it’s easy to treat things in a binary fashion, right? Like it’s a one or a zero and so often life is lived in the in the gray not the black and white.

It’s interesting on this concept if you applied that to what it’s like for a two-person shop should they be doing a brief? Like, should they be doing a post-mortem? Do they have the luxury of doing that? Although, on the other side of the spectrum is — IBM or SAP or Microsoft, right— where literally nothing gets out the door if it doesn’t have a brief — and probably takes months and months and months.

Are there happy mediums along the way for companies of different sizes? Because when I was back East at Kronos, and we weren’t necessarily a huge company, but we had I don’t know 150, 175 people in marketing — literally nothing got out the door without going through a proper briefing process.

Our planning was rock-tight or airtight, excuse me, and we did many post-mortems after the fact. But, you’re right a multi-month brief process, I mean, that wouldn’t that wouldn’t fly here at ON24. I would be shocked if it would for you, but something’s got to be done.

Sam Melnick:

I think it does depend and I think it’s the right balance, like we. We say run it, well, we say there’s two sides of marketing: there’s running marketing and doing marking — doing is the execution and running is like the strategy and the planning behind the scenes — and there’s a certain point where you do need to put the efforts into the running of marketing. So, that’s the briefs, that’s the planning, that’s the measurement.

But the reality is that there is this kind of focus of execution and the fewer resources you have, probably the more nimble you can be and spend more of your time on the doing. Partially because of necessity and partially just because it’s easier to walk up to somebody who’s right next to you in the cube or office. Whereas, at a 150 to 200-person marketing team, you don’t want to be spending quarter million bucks, half a million dollars on a campaign without some checks and balances. And then making sure that you’ve actually put in the right, I guess, effort into the running part.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, you’re right. At Kronos, like at an enormous company. We were split across multiple buildings in in Chelmsford, never mind our International presence, right? So yeah, sending a slack to the dude sitting right next to you — it wasn’t that simple.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, it’s also like you’re talking about multiple regions, product lines, and it’s like, there has to be some way — whether it’s a brief there’s technology — like that’s kind of, you know, an Allocadia or different marketing performance management software systems. Or, you know, EPM-type solutions that are coming out — I think was an Adaptive Insights that just got bought by workday?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah,1.5 billion-dollar price tag.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, not bad. So obviously there’s some sort of interest in planning at the enterprise level. You know, there’s got to be ways to make sure an organization documents, and is making decisions, in a smart way. So, I don’t know I don’t have the perfect answer for it for sure.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, I don’t think there is a perfect answer — what I find what I find interesting is — I think it’s particularly worse out here in the Bay Area. So, I think five or 10 years ago, a slippery slope for marketers would be confusing tactics with strategy — or doing with running as you would say, right? So, you’d say just ask them about their marketing strategy and they would list off “Like, I’m going to this event, I’m going to this conference we’re doing this, email drop.” You name it.

And it was a whole bunch of tactics and lacked like a clear cohesive strategy. What I’m seeing now more of — and I will admit this as a technologist —is marketers just listing a whole bunch of technology. So, it’s like if one more person tells me that their strategy is account-based marketing, because they’ve turned on — you name it — DemandBase or one of the host of other ABM platforms, which is great, that’s not a strategy.

And I would say the same thing for webinars. Your strategy shouldn’t be webinars — it’s like, well, how are you planning on segmenting your database? What’s the real goal in mind? You know, what’s the best form to communicate with folks? Like how are you measuring it? I think it’s a problem for marketers.

Sam Melnick:

I totally agree. There’s someone I know in a marketing team and they said, “We’re gonna buy XYZ technology that’s ABM — it’s gonna change the way our business runs.” No, that’s not — I mean, it could help — but the technology… And you know, again, we’re a marketing technology company. I’ve worked for a couple of them and I’m a huge believer. I want MarTech and Technology can do for marketing organizations— but if the right foundation and thought process and kind of surround — the people, process, technology. If you can’t just do it with technology have to do it with process.

Joe Hyland:

Yes.

Sam Melnick:

…People as well.

Joe Hyland:

Yes. That’s right. And we are believers in personalization here at ON24 — which, for me, ABM is just a subset of that. But yeah, that requires a commitment. That requires a lot of content, for example. It requires a pretty sophisticated view on segmentation. Buying any technology and just assuming it will it will solve your woes — that’s a Fool’s errand, right? Like, it’s not going to go well, which is why I think you go back to having a fantastic foundation a real process and strategy in place. And then, from there, I think that you plug in the tactics and the appropriate technologies and you can be off to the Races.

But yeah, having this get-shit-done mindset with just tactics and a plug-in a whole bunch of tech solutions — I think just leads marketers to be more and more frustrated.

Sam Melnick:

Great, yeah. No, I agree.

Joe Hyland: Great. Yeah, exactly. I think we beat that that horse dead.

I actually just had a conversation with a CMO that I’m friends with down and Sydney, Sara Gonzales, at Simple.

Sam Melnick:

Okay

Joe Hyland:

I don’t know if you know Sarah and Simple, but an interesting discussion happened when I was down in Sydney. All these marketers kept asking me — we had a conference down there about a month ago, “I know we’re not as sophisticated, Down Under, and I know we’re not using technology and advanced ways,” which I found really interesting because I didn’t think it was true. I think, for the longest time, U.S. marketers have kind of assumed that APAC is very much behind the United States in terms of marketing maturity. I do that long setup because I think the same thing happens — it’s not just for marketers, it’s technology in general — with the West Coast to East Coast. Like, there’s a lot of East Coast bias with media and kind of a host of other things where the East Coast is the center of gravity. But for tech companies you would be amazed at how snobby we are.

We look at the East Coast, and in particular, Boston, as if there’s HubSpot and maybe two other tech companies. And I know you guys are, in fact, headquartered on the West Coast, but you started MarTech in The Hub, right? I’d love to get your take on what it’s like being a technologist in Boston.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, MarTech in the Hub kind of started off the marketing, MarTech conference that Scott Brinker ran. A few of us, we get a bunch of marketing and marketing technology folks together about once a quarter. So, you know, I’ve worked for companies in the valley and it’s certainly a bigger ecosystem. But Boston, I’d say Boston has a very strong — like it’s there. Talent-wise and maturity-wise, would I put The Valley leaps and bounds ahead of Boston? Probably not. There’s just a lot more people and that kind of gets the flywheel rolling. I’d say Boston, what it has, is it’s kind of got a longer — I mean — it’s almost got a longer role for things. Like, people are not — they’re more conservative — they go back to their Puritan roots, you know? A little bit more conservative. But like really strong, community — particularly in B2B tech. Particularly, deep tech. Like, you think about like an EMC or think about what it was like 30-40 years ago. You’ve got digital equipment. You’ve got —

Joe Hyland:

You name it, like Stratus Technologies. There’s a there’s a lot a lot of good tech companies in Boston.

Sam Melnick:

And to a fault, there’s probably also a bit too much of Academia. Because you’ve got Harvard and MIT and you got, you know, Babson has Olin College down there — which is engineering only. And Boston’s a small city, you go up to the valley: you’ve got San Francisco and then you’ve got San Jose and then there’s everything in between — and it’s just a lot more spread out. Whereas in Boston it’s all in one place and everybody’s around there and it’s — yeah.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think your comments on. I think it’s full of shit, a lot of it is — not your comments, but [laughter] you’re full of shit —

Sam Melnick:

It’s alright, you can call me out.

Joe Hyland:

I think there’s a notion that there’s more talent out here — and maybe I’m showing my six-one-seven area code bias here — I don’t know, it’s silly. When I got out here, some of my peers were like, “I don’t know any of the stuff you’re doing.” This was at Talia, my last company. “It’s really bold, it’s really loud. Like, I think, maybe, it’s too much.” And I was like, “I don’t know, I mean just where I’m from, the East Coast, we’re a little louder.” I don’t know there’s more people out here — I mean, San Francisco, people think it’s bigger than it is, there’s only six or seven hundred thousand people — San Jose three million, right? So, I mean there’s yeah there’s a lot of people in between you know.

Sam Melnick:

I think that it’s there’s a lot of people in Tech. There’s just so many — like, you drive up the one-oh-one and you’re just like, “Oh, tech company, tech company. Boston has a lot of tech, but like, there’s biotech there’s pharma there’s — I think Harvard is the largest employer in Cambridge, which is the biggest city next to Boston.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you’re right. There’re literally thousands of tech companies. It’d be interesting — you were referencing Scott Brinkner before — MarTech 5,000, which I think is now over 6,000. I don’t know he’s not doing it anymore, right? I don’t know it’d be interesting to see how many of those companies are out here. And a lot of those companies will fail. A lot. I mean, the market isn’t large enough to support five to six thousand companies for B2B marketing. I don’t know what the right number is. Actually, that’s a good point. I’m curious to — after I shit on the area that I live in now — I’m curious to get your take as to who this “Survivors” will be — not by company name, of course. Are there certain qualities or characteristics that will determine who will survive in this kind of Darwinian ecosystem that we live in?

Sam Melnick:

Well, the two companies that come to mind that’ll survive are ON24 and Allocadia, so I’ll start there.

Joe Hyland:

Obviously, that’s tip of the pyramid.

Sam Melnick:

Actually, that’s a really good question and I’ve got this blog post that I need to write about it.  My comment is just two kinds of — when I think about particularly data in MarTech — there are two kinds of marketing SaaS companies. There are those that are creating data — basically a new data source that can be utilized whether you know different ways that you can’t elsewhere — then there’s those that are kind of manipulating data and using data from external sources, and you talked about attribution, building models or predictive, you know. And those companies are not — I don’t think — are going to ever live as stand-alone because, essentially, they’re a part of an ecosystem. They’re using data from elsewhere. They’re tying into other Technologies. But if you didn’t have those other touch-points, they don’t exist, you know?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a good point.

Sam Melnick:

So, if you have a technology that can sit on its own, create its own data — it might be much less valuable without the connections — but it still can provide value. So, that’s something that I look for in terms of that ability of what’s going to come out.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a very interesting point. I’d add to it that I think — and it’s like great marketing, you need to know your audience inside and out and understand how you solve their problems and if you’re doing anything but that you’re probably missing the mark — great marketing is about finding ways to help marketers engage. I mean, it is all about engagement. And I think in this new world order that we that we live and play in, it’s about providing insights into what works and how you can be smarter, and smarter, and smarter, and smarter.

So, my sense is, and all jokes aside, companies that focus on those two areas when — let’s say something happens in the economy and dollars are squeezed — if you’re helping marketers be more engaging and you’re helping provide insights, I think you’ll stay in the market Tech stack. So, that’s my perspective. So yeah, maybe Allocadia and ON24 will be okay.

Sam Melnick:

Okay. There you go. Let’s hope so. Knock on wood, at least.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, with that, I think our half hour is up. Sam, I want to thank you so much. This was fantastic, and I will talk to everyone on our next episode of CMO confessions. Thanks so much, man.

Sam Melnick:

Awesome. Well, thanks for having me it was a blast.

CMOs: Don’t Lead a Cost Center, Be a Revenue Driver

This post was originally published on adweek.com. Shared with permission.

Gartner’s prediction that CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology is now a fact: CMOs will use 12% of their company’s revenue on marketing technologies in 2018.

It makes sense: Just as a consumer would look to Yelp before going to a restaurant, prospects today do research before talking to sales, meaning the marketing department owns more of the sales funnel than ever. Silicon Valley has jumped on this opportunity — over 5,000 companies are clamoring to help marketers meet this growing responsibility.

Armed with growing budgets and new technologies, you’d think CMOs would have lasting influence in the boardroom. But research suggests otherwise: CMO tenures now average only 42 months, and that number declines every year. Another study revealed that 2016 was a year of record turnover rates for marketing executives. It’s time for CMOs to either figure out why they’re not delivering the ROI that CEOs want or not bother to set up their office.

As the CEO of a martech company for the past 15 years, I’ve seen the role of marketing teams completely transform. I remember when I thought about our marketing spend much like I did about playing roulette — throwing money on the table hoping it would pay of. I assumed that like gambling our marketing budget was simply the cost of playing the game.

Digital technologies changed that and it changed the role of CMOs. But CMOs haven’t adapted quite yet. They now need to act like the CEO of their own business – the marketing team. And that ultimately means CMOs must redefine success in the same way a CEO does, with an unrelenting focus on revenue. This revenue-or-die mindset isn’t easy to adapt, but here are three ways for CMOs to start thinking like a CEO and keep their eyes on the bottom line.

Say no.

One of the toughest choices we have to make everyday is the decision to not to do something. It’s easier to latch onto a fad than to stand against it. But the rationale for a campaign or new technology can’t be for the sake of trying something out. Numbers speak louder than words, and CMOs who have hard data to back up their strategy, approach, and results give themselves leverage in the C-Suite and make any campaign, whether it fails or succeeds, defensible.

My CMO has a quarterly revenue target to meet, and every dollar spent needs to have an equal return. Digital technologies have empowered us to analyze the entire performance of our marketing channels and use that intelligence to determine our future investments.

Social campaigns are great for awareness, for example, but for our business, they don’t drive revenue. This realization led us to scale back our investments in Facebook and Twitter. We used those resources to double down on our own website, webinars, and in-person events because our data showed these channels yielded the best results. We certainly feel some fear of missing out, but once you know what drives revenue, other channels become moot.

Prioritize relationships.

Even in the digital age, I still believe a one-on-one, in-person conversation is the best way to close a deal and build a relationship with a customer.

As far as technology has come, no automation software, algorithm or predictive analytics has the power of empathy. Consider H&R Block’s partnership announcement with IBM Watson. H&R Block could have heralded Watson as the end to human tax professionals, letting the computers do all the work faster. But who wants to just deal with a computer?

To their credit, IBM positioned Watson as a tool to further elevate services H&R reps already provide to customers. It was not about replacement, but letting computers and humans do what they do best, together. Marketers need to take a similar mindset, where you’re not having data dominate your approach, but using it in a manner that supplements your human understanding of your customer and their pain points.

There’s tremendous value in freeing up marketers’ time by using automated programs to tackle more tedious activities. This empowers marketers to build key personal relationships, learn from customers, and think critically about their biggest challenges. Marketers will maintain their relevance long into the future, but it won’t be solely because of data — it’ll be by understanding customers on a human level, while using data to enhance this understanding.

Be accountable.

In order to enhance this understanding, data cannot just be superficial The actual strength of the interactions you are measuring must go beyond clicks, views and downloads, and examine length of time spent on a piece of content, the strength of their intent, and level of interaction that your marketing tactics achieve.

A single click only provides a mere glimpse into customer interests, and gives little background on what motivated that click. Marketers must focus on the data points that are rich with insight about a customer’s behavior, intentions, and potential actions. You should ask yourself: for my business, what are the behavioral indicators that have driven past behavior? What’s my prospect’s digital body language telling me about the best way to engage with them? How do I  get them further down the funnel?

In today’s age, where everything is measured, CMOs should constantly look to drive revenue in order to show the value of their efforts to CEOs. If every marketing initiative and campaign is tied to revenue, the only CMOs who will be leaving their jobs will be the ones becoming CEOs themselves.

CMO Confessions Ep. 6 David Lewis

Hi, and, once again, welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering all things marketing. This week we have a special treat:  David Lewis, the CEO and founder of DemandGen.

If you’ve worked in the digital world in any capacity, you’ve likely seen, or even used, some of David’s handiwork. David’s rather diverse background ranges from pioneering early VoIP technology (his motivation here was to play videogames unimpeded with his brother-in-law in the 90s) to proactively guiding organizations through the — at times, dizzying — MarTech landscape.

We, of course, go over all of this in this episode of CMO Confessions, but we also take a few detours into what the marketing landscape is set to look like over the coming years. All I can say is, if you’re interested in what it takes to make data work for your marketing program, give this episode a listen.

You can find David and his latest insights — and do check them out, they’re great — on his Twitter feed, @demandgendave.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week is David Lewis CEO of DemandGen. David, how’s it going?

David Lewis:

Good, Joe. Thank you very much for having me on your program.

Joe Hyland:

Yes, psyched you’re here. So, at the start, and I preface this by saying our show is not about pitching things, but I am always fascinated when someone takes the initiative and starts something. Whether it’s writing a book, starting an aggressive program. And when I get to talk to a Founder who started a company, for me, I’m fascinated to know — why’d you start DemandGen? I think the audience would love to hear that.

David Lewis:

Oh, well, why did I start DemandGen? [There’s] one primary reason that I started DemandGen and that was the success that I was having with marketing technology systems.

So, I was running marketing at a company called Ellie Mae, a very successful mortgage software and banking platform. I joined them in 2002 and from 2002 to 2007, I was implementing marketing automation, brought in Salesforce CRM, online sales and marketing and we just had tremendous success.

And my pause when you said, “Why did I start the company?” I’ve been an entrepreneur before — did another startup we could talk about if you want — but I was at a conference and Tony Robbins was on stage and just prior to him, he was talking with the founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies. And he said “So, what was her recipe for success?” And everyone was like, “the cookies the cookies!” He goes, “No, that was a trap!” And the recipe was how to build a franchise business.

And he said, “everybody write down on a piece of paper, come on, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ve been an entrepreneur,” you know, very Tony style. I can’t be Tony. He said, “write down on a piece of paper a recipe that you have for success that, if you shared it with other people, it would help them and help their lives transform their lives.” And I know the challenges — which we’ll probably get to — on being a CMO and been in marketing leadership my whole career, and I wrote down on a little piece of paper, Joe, “how to use marketing automation.”

And that was my recipe. Because, in 2007 and before, we didn’t have MarTech — at most we had marketing automation. So, about six months after that, I resigned to start DemandGen and take the recipes that we had done at Eillie Mae, and other digital marketing experiences, that I had and bring that to other marketers with the sole goal of making them heroes. And that’s the mission of the companies making marketing heroes and technology is just a way to enable doing that. So, there you go.

Joe Hyland:

That’s cool. I find a lot interesting about that. I was thinking, as you were as you were talking, so much has changed. So, I started marketing in 2001. I remember rolling out Eloqua in, I don’t know, 2002-2003. My company, we were a pretty early convert to the cloud, even though it wasn’t necessarily the most innovative company. It was a server company in Boston called Stratus Technologies, and so we had Salesforce and Eloqua. And marketing automation, I mean literally, changed everything we were doing.

So, on one hand, the marketing landscape has wildly changed. On the other hand, here we are, 15 years later, and a lot of shit’s still the same. A lot of the challenges of different tactics are used to solve them, but a lot of the challenges from 15 years ago, we’re still saddled with today. So how has it changed for you? You said you started in 2000, 2007, right?

David Lewis:

Yeah, the company started almost 11 years ago.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, walk through what a consultation looked like then versus what it’s like now.

David Lewis:

Everything has changed and then the more that has changed the more that has actually stayed the same. So, there’s been huge amounts of change and yet huge amounts of the same. That’ll make more sense in a minute.

So, truth is, back then, the work that we were doing all of our clients had Eloqua. There was no Marketo in 2007. There actually was, but it was in a lab getting coded, and wasn’t yet a product in-market. So, as you know, and, like you, I was in early Eloqua customer. I think, probably, we were posterchilds for what to do with these tools, right?

So, what has changed is that, when we first started the company, we were helping people with the use and adoption of marketing automation. We were almost, in many ways, like an Eloqua Professional Services team.

I wish I could tell you that I was brilliant or had some kind of time machine and knew that all of this was going to happen, and all of this is eight thousand marketing tools and technologies. I did not see this coming. It’s no surprise now when you think about everything that we’re doing in digital marketing and digital sales and how much it changes become a digital economy, but it really was all about marketing automation.

Fast forward 10 years, and we don’t look like ourselves from 10 years ago. We are helping people become full stack marketers and our clients, on average, have over a dozen different marketing technologies that were helping them select, implement and leverage to drive growth and to drive revenue. So, you need a whole tool chest and we help our clients with that tool chest.

So, that’s what’s changed: is the toolset what’s not changed is all the same challenges. It’s still hard to align sales and marketing. ABM is a is a three-letter acronym that, to so many folks, feels like a Holy Grail, but there’s a recipe — set of recipes that you need to do to do an effective ABM, account-based marketing and sales team. Marketing still is paid less than sales. One day, hopefully, equality there or even maybe more. That’s a B-HAG of mine is to see equality in compensation between sales and marketing because of how much marketing is doing to drive growth. That’s not changed. The shiny new toy syndrome is still alive and well, unfortunately, in that marketing isn’t really providing the same level of diligence for how to select and adopt tools and being a little bit more, Halloween candy issue, “That looks good. I’ll put that in my stack and then, “Oh that that actually is not something that’s useful.”

So, we’ve got to become a lot more process-oriented in marketing. What hasn’t changed the data challenge — that’s still alive and well. Most marketers’ databases look like an episode of Hoarders and not some pristine analytics-ready database. I could go on, but you know, the challenges are still there and yet we’ve got more tools to help us solve these problems, so the question is, “are they solving problems?”

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you mentioned data I could talk about I could talk about data for the entire discussion. I had a conversation with Laura Ramos from Forrester on this, which is, I think, data has become quite sexy in marketing circles. I don’t know if it’ll ever change, truthfully. I mean that is the foundation of — well the more targeted you want to get, the more precise your data needs to be.

Databases are a disaster. I would say. I have friends over at LinkedIn, a company who you would think has, you know, the most accurate data on employees in the world and they were complaining and bitching about how — they were Salesforce shop — how messy their data is, and they don’t know if someone’s at a company. And, meanwhile, all they had to do is check their own technology to see if they are, but obviously those two things aren’t speaking, right? So, they aren’t syncing. So, if LinkedIn is having a problem with data, everyone is.

David Lewis:

Yeah, I know these experiences firsthand. Like, we did LinkedIn’s deployment of Eloqua. We did a ton of work for those guys. We did — get it ready for this — Salesforce’s deployment of Eloqua, which they used until about six months ago. Pretty much every high-tech company DemandGen has worked with, whether it’s Eloqua or Marketo, and you’re right, the problems are the same large or small, experienced or not, these are challenges. And, let’s look at another factor — there’s a lot of turnover in marketing, a lot of turnover in sales. So, even if you had the best team in the world building out these initial systems, do you still have that same team? Or, if you didn’t have the best team do you now have it? And, so, these systems are not set it and forget it in any way. So, the challenges will always be there.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. This is — 20 years from now, they’ll be talking about clean data. So, adjacent topic, the rise of the data-driven marketer. I think, so if data is sexy, and the Nerds are, perhaps, taking over marketing — which I would somewhat question — do you see a lot of organizations — they’re struggling with data and cleanliness of data – but how are marketers doing with gleaning insights and making decisions with that data? Because I know a few people who have a data problem. I mean, most marketers have too much data — they’re drowning in it. How are marketers doing with the data? Are they making smarter decisions? Is that full of shit? What do you say?

David Lewis:

Let me back up to the data is sexy comment that you made, because I think Laura might think — I know Laura, smart, talented data-driven — I don’t think data is sexy. In fact, from the companies that I’m advising and partners that we have in data, one of their biggest challenges is getting marketing appeal for their data orchestration platform. Which, by the way, is a domain that I registered and never used —data orchestration platform — because I think that is. I think it’s important, and I think data could get maybe sexy — JT who’s in town, Justin Timberlake, he gets to say, you know, maybe data will be sexy back, but it’s just not sexy because you can’t see it you can’t show it.

There’s no data on a black board that goes “look how wicked cool this data looks like.”

You know, unless you’re Tank in The Matrix, data doesn’t really look very cool to you. However, data is essential for success. So, if you get the right data person on your marketing team, you will be the best marketing team in the world because you can make data-driven decisions and you can segment better than ever.

So, look at Amazon. How many data scientists do you think that they have empowering the Predictive Analytics engines that they have on their site? How do they know that when Johnny down the street is buying a snow shovel because it’s snowing — data, data, data — in your town, that I’m gonna serve up ads for snow shovels on your site because you’re in the same geographic area, right? If you can become data-driven and have the right people on your team, the sky is a limit in terms of your promise and marketing of what you can do. But, I don’t think we’re there yet.

So, I’m going to challenge that thought that most marketers would rather work on a campaign or a program — the art of marketing and the science is still levels up from that data level. But it’s coming and it’s going to be incredibly important.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, and I would further your challenge, which is I think. There are a lot of marketers that it’s not necessarily their core skill set. So, bringing in a few or a team of data scientists, that’s different. I mean, they literally I have friends who are data scientists. It can be some weird people — they live for combing through data. I don’t know if most marketers would describe themselves that way. So, I think I think there’s a bit of a skills gap here.

David Lewis:

I’ve produced a couple things for the web some professional, some personal level — a lot, lot for the web. You want to factoid, interesting one: I did a mannequin challenge video with my drone and a bunch of us at a 10-million-dollar home in Cabo that had 20,000 views. People like drones, mannequin challenge. I’ve done — lots of written about lead scoring, lead nurturing, ABM — all kinds of stuff. Hundreds, if not, maybe, thousands of views. I did an article called “the rise of the data scientist” went through the roof as a blog post. I don’t even know how people found it because they’re searching for it.

So yes, these people are worth their weight in gold when you find really good ones. And ask yourself everyone listening to this podcast. Do you have a data operations manager on your team? Have you ever even heard of that title yet? Depending on when you listen to this podcast either didn’t exist or it’s now everywhere. So, it will happen, just like there wasn’t a marketing automation manager back in the day, there wasn’t a marketing operations manager, or leader, and today there’s really not a data operations manager title across a lot of different companies. But there will be.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think you’re right. You’re not going to see some, you know, a standard profile from you know, marketing programs manager, who’s just going to turn into that that person. So, I think this this push for marketers become more data-driven, obviously, I think few people would argue against that. I just think there’s many marketers that that’s not their core skill set.

David Lewis:

Yeah, we even marketing technology wasn’t marketing’s core skill set. It was the four Ps, right? Unfortunately, marketing’s always been seen as kind of an arts and crafts department that throws really good parties and events.

And, so marketing is getting rebranded — certainly in the roles and what we’re doing today — but for most, I think there’s a chasm, Joe. In that, you’ve got the digital natives who have been born and raised with technology — and they used it when I was driving here to the office today when I turned the corner and so the kids waiting for the light at school every single one of them had their head down looking at their phone everyone none of them were talking to each other and they’re standing right there on the corner — so the digital natives are addicted to devices and using technology and know far more pieces of software at their age than we ever knew up until our careers. But they don’t know how to connect technology to driving growth in revenue — yet.

Then you’ve got the CMOS who have been around for a long time because they’re CMOs — so they’ve been doing this for years. They’ve been doing this for a while back before there was marketing automation — and many of them are not wired for marketing technology. Some are, but many of them are not. And, in fact, I only think the reason that I’m so passionate and started this company is because I graduated with a degree in computer science and marketing and now I’m in The Perfect Storm to feed both of my passions. But once this Chasm gets crossed, where digital natives have more experience in leadership and growth and driving, marketing is going to be a breadwinner in the revenue family. I hope so.

Joe Hyland:

I’ve heard you talk about salaries by the way and compensation and how compensation should be structured and how it is today and how they’re speaking of chasms that one exists. I think part of bridging that is tying oneself to revenue, and perhaps the upstream indicator for that is pipeline.

When I started, my first task in marketing when I graduated school, was drafting letters which we then, printed — I signed for my sales rep — and I mailed out a thousand of them. And I had no other skills. That’s I mean, I literally folded a thousand folded or printed a thousand letters signed a thousand folding them put them in envelopes mailed them.

And so that was my first, you know, revenue-related task. But we were the tchotchkes department — we very much were in support of sales. Being blunt, we were sale’s bitches. We did just what they wanted — now because we were revenue focused marketing department back then. That meant doing what sales asked of us.

Now, I’m in, I mean, obviously, my roles changed a little bit, but we’re looked at as a strategic driver. I mean, I don’t know whether it’s a blessing or a curse. When there’s a pipeline challenge, our CEO or, my boss, is calling me over. And he calls over my counterpart, the head of sales, but he wants to know from me why we’re missing pipeline.

So again, I said that can be a blessing and a curse, but that’s where marketers are headed. I’m biased. But I think that’s where marketers need to get to.

So, we do plenty of other things that are screwed up in our department, but that’s one thing that I think works quite well, which is we own pipeline. We own pipeline by segment for the company.

David Lewis:

Yeah, 50% of our is — actually 60 percent of our revenue last year — 50% right now, tracking of our revenue comes from marketing and, you know, and demand gen. And if we’re not the best at tracking this stuff, you know, shame on us. So, we know exactly where everything is coming from we’ve got these systems all dialed in and I I like you I I didn’t.

Like the Kinkos mindset, you know, meaning that marketing was Kinkos to the rest of the organization — make me another data sheet, make me a brochure, print me out this. But no, we’re revenue drivers — and I mentioned I did another startup, right?

So, my very first startup was in 1999. Came home one night and I was a big video gamer my whole life — that’s how I got into computers and stayed with me — and I loved playing Shooters, Counter-Strike, Unreal, Quake all these first-person shooters. So, 1999 I came home, my wife said, “Are you going to tap the phone line all night?”

So, why did she ask that? So, this is 1999 — 9600 baud modem. You still have a landline. There’s no iPhone. You know, there’s no mobile phone — unless if you did you were like the elite or you worked in sales — and I said, “Yeah,” and she goes “I got to call my mom,” and I said, “Well, I’m playing Counter-Strike with your brother, so, can you call her later?”

“Well, how long you gonna play till two o’clock in the morning again?”

I’m like, “All right, how long you gonna be?” So, she goes “Why don’t you figure out a way to talk over the computer?”

So, my first startup was actually a product called Roger Wilco, precursor to Skype and what you and I are doing right now — painkiller.

I mean, it’s like, “let’s figure out a way.” I was, like, the Alexander Graham Bell of the internet. Why do I bring this up? It’s a neat story about Dave. But all I ever printed was a business card. All we ever had was a website and we built this company up and sold it a year later during the dot com era was pretty exciting. It was all marketing driven. There wasn’t a salesperson the company. We had an SDK, every game developer was incorporating our audio system into their games, and boom: never salesperson never even a printed piece of collateral.

So, if you’re a digital company, you’re very marketing driven and not sales driven. And if you’re a B2B company, so many companies, especially those of our clients have been around forever, they’re such a sales-driven organization. Revenue or sales people. Let’s grow more revenue. Well, who’s gonna feed all those sales people believe marketing?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that was that happened with us when I when I got here. We had the ratio of marketing both bodies and dollars to sales was out of whack because we did exactly what you just described it.

We wanted to grow revenue. And so, we said well, what’s the next closest thing to revenue sales reps? And, you know, we used data to say well how many how many leads does each rep need and how do we generate leads and how much does each lead cost? And before we knew it we had a justification model for increasing marketing spend — not because I wanted to fiefdom — but because we showed shit that seems to be working we should do more of it.

David Lewis:

By the way trivia question: guess who did your Eloqua deployment for ON24? You’re talkin to him. We did, and you guys no longer use Eloqua — we didn’t do your migration. But, I would say the marketing team that you have today, Joe, thanks to your leadership, and the organization is nothing like the marketing team that you had back then. The pendulum has swung to put a lot more horsepower and talent and focus into marketing because of the power that can come from having a killer team there.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, thanks. I really appreciate it. And I did not know that actually that’s pretty cool. I am honest to a fault always. Do you know the story behind why we no longer have Eloqua — which was before my time that predates me.

David Lewis:

No, no I do not.

Joe Hyland:

It was a CYA situation. I think it’s actually interesting story for any vendor technology. So, we had um a nurture stream through Eloqua — this, again, before my time — things went wrong and there were sequences, right? Things went wrong after the first email and you know, people were pissed and went all the way up to our CEO and they said, “You know, don’t let this happen again.”

 

David Lewis:

Sender “unknown” was it? Or the wrong language in the wrong country? And we don’t have to share keep going.

Joe Hyland:

They just screwed everything up it was it was a disaster. But it was a sequence and so, supposedly, which I actually don’t even believe — I will get the answer from you right now — there was no kill switch on this sequence and we had no ability to stop these future emails that were going to go out. I do not believe this.

David Lewis:

Yeah, that’s not true.

Joe Hyland:

So, over the course of the next like week or two all these people who are pissed off received more emails from us and that head of demand gen at the time got pulled into the CEOs office and said, “what the hell is happening?” And they explained it’s not me but the technology we’re using just isn’t working. And he said, what any CEO would say in that time, then change the technology.

And it was too late. So, they had to hire someone to come in through the migration and, you know, ended up purchasing Marketo. We’re very happy with by the way, um probably cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lot of time because, truthfully, someone was covering their ass.

David Lewis:

Yeah, not the first time I’ve heard a story like that and I want to say for everyone listening and I’m going to talk to the vendors as well, because maybe some Marketo people and Oracle people are listening as well, in most cases it’s not the tool, it’s the team. Someone used to say, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” And there are very good reasons to switch marketing automation system. So, what I want to say is, in short, if you don’t have a marketing automation system get one because you’re going to be better off. There are best-of-breed applications and you should know your needs, but no one should hear this call, this podcast and say, “I need to switch marketing automation systems.” The chances are that you probably can get more from the technology that you have for it.

And we have migrated a lot of people from Eloqua to Marketo and made them more successful. We have also migrated some people from Marketo to Eloqua, less, less common more the other direction and Marketo certainly as a company than a lot in terms of innovation on their platform and continues to do Innovation because they came to the market later and had to compete more fiercely and it’s more focused and driven because this is all they do, that’s all Marketo does, is marketing technology. So, Kudos to them, but you know, not a surprising story – the one that you shared — and you guys are doing the right things, though, in terms of really taking the game to the next level there at ON24.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, I’ve never done a migration — I was part of the team that put Eloqua in, I had no idea what I was doing, so, I wasn’t that helpful, but I was in the room. I think listen there’s a right — there are certain features and there are differences in the Technologies — but you’re right if you have an existing marketing Automation and things aren’t perfect. It’s you, it’s not the technology, right? And we’re doing a lot right and ON24 and we screw up a ton of things. I mean, there’s so many ways we can improve.

So, I would I would echo your words: I would encourage you to look at your strategy and ensure that you’re executing on the right strategy before I’d say switch marketing automation. But, I thought it was a funny story.

David Lewis:

Something to think about, Joe, and marketing, because you said about failing — we’ve got to fail in marketing and we’ve got to take risk, all the time, every day. There’s the 80/20 rule and that applies to sales which is interesting that 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the sales force.

So, sales organizations are failing every day at an individual level as well as a team level. And marketing, in most cases, doesn’t fail, but we are very good at taking risk, but we do create campaigns that don’t hit, you know, this kind of success metrics that we had hoped for, but we got to do that and never be discouraged. And sometimes, it’s as much as an image or color change or a subject line change or a whole scale different call to action or a different channel you could run ads on LinkedIn and not succeed. You could run the same ads on another channel and succeed wildly.

And so, it’s a fascinating discipline where sales is very one-to-one and transactional and engagement with a group environment they fail. That’s at an individual level. I mean, most cases, fields are lost because the individual. Very rarely is marketing failing on a program because of one person — although this email stream sounds like someone didn’t code something, right.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, definitely. Well, I’d say a couple of things to that one. If you’re not failing, like, you’re not trying or you’re just totally full of shit. A friend of mine is the CFO of a pretty big company and he said to me that he’s lost faith in marketing and I said “why?” And he said, “all they do is report their successes and they are unwilling to admit failure and I just know that’s not practical. I don’t believe them. So, when I get presented with every program was a success — an ROI was you know hundreds of percent on each investment — I know they’re not being truthful.” I mean I you got to take chances, we do things that fail all the time.

I just did a little email drop for a sales rep who I’m friends with. And said, “let me help you out, I’ll send an email to like 30 of your prospects will get a great response rate.” Zero responses, right? Okay, we tried. And the question is being you learning from them? Right? So, I think that’s what we’re marketers should focus versus trying to spin everything as a win. No one believes you, anyway.

David Lewis:

When I launched my podcast, demand generated radio, you know in the episodes 50s now because depends when you’re listening to this, you know, I keep trying to master my craft and make sure that the content, the guests, the format, just keeps getting better and better. And you know, what? The chart shows that — so the listens from where we were like the first several months have really hockey sticked in year two.

And one of the things that made a tremendous difference, Joe, was the frequency of the podcast. I mean the content continues to get better and better — I’ll let people be the judge of that. I think the guests and the way that I’m interviewing them, and talking with them, as we are as getting better, but there was just a frequency change that got a lot more listening ship.

We launched marketoassessment.com. We just launched this, which is a free assessment, and it’s version 1 — I think it’s pretty amazing. But version 2 is going to be better than version 1 and version 3 is going to be even more amazing. But you gotta pilot and perfect in marketing, and I think coming back to your, you know, if I can give everybody a piece of advice is no one good is good enough and just keep building upon it if you try to just boil the ocean and get everything perfect — what if your campaign doesn’t succeed and you wasted all that extra time? Get it out iterate and make it better.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. No, I agree. Yeah, I we adhere to the lean the lean philosophy which is just let’s get something out. It’s not even network, necessarily, testing it per-se it’s we just speed to markets really important to me. And you’re right, you could you could spend six months perfecting something and then you realize you were off and you just wasted all that time, right?

David Lewis:

You know, Elon had to blow up a lot of rockets before he figured out how to land one back on the ground.

Joe Hyland:

That’s right, that’s right. I would — and this might be a five-minute close — but I would love to know, don’t name any names or don’t feel the need to — do you have a lot of clients that you work with? So, you you’re like having a best friend who’s a physician and when you get together with them drinks over drinks, you say? Okay, tell me the good stories which of course are not supposed to do. So, I’m sure they wouldn’t.

But let’s do that here. What are think of an example or two of just brilliant things some of your clients are doing or a particular client. And, in the back of your mind, think of the opposite end of the spectrum just something that you’re shocked by — you’re disgusted with horror that you can’t believe that a client is still making the same mistake on. So, I’ll let you start with the good side first.

David Lewis:

Great question. I’m working on a book that has a working title for me called Agents of Change. So, I’ve been taking all of the lessons of our top performing clients and putting those into this book. Maybe, it’s called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective CMOs. I don’t know what the actual title of the book will be.

But I’ve been taking all of the lessons which by the way some of them fail miserably in certain projects and become exceptional through the learnings of those failures and distilling it down. So, here’s what I find of some of the things — look maybe preview of the book. So, number one, and kudos to Sarah Kennedy and the Marketo team, for Fearless, the word Fearless.

These are people, you know, that’s the theme of Marketo — the Fearless Marketer. One of the things that all of our clients are doing is — the successful ones — they are fearless, they are willing to take risk. They took the risk going to another company and it never stopped there. They retool their teams. They retool their technology. Yes, marketers come in, and sometimes do brand refreshes. I’m smiling because sometimes we go, “Oh look, it’s a new marketer in town, we got a new logo. You have to change everything, you know?

Joe Hyland:

A new website.

David Lewis:

Subway’s just did that right? I don’t know if I like the retro look or whatever look that is, but you know, we bring new and the ones that are doing it really well don’t wait a year to start bringing about change. They trust their gut, they trust their instincts and they land and make a difference.

That’s number one. Number two is they hire top talent around them. They are master conductors. They are they are the orchestra leader and they don’t try to be the sharpest tool in the shed. They will surround themselves with absolutely the top talent —the best data operations manager, the best marketing operations manager, the best analytics people, the most creative. They also work with agencies — and that’s not just a selfish plug — it is a selfish plug but it’s not just a selfish plug because they are bringing in agencies to help them get there faster and to leverage what these agencies are have been doing for hundreds of clients.

I don’t know about your resume Joe, but I don’t think I have more than seven companies on my resume, but DemandGen works with over 400. So, if you work with my team, you’ve got what to do and what not to do. The other thing that they’re doing, which is not — maybe as obvious and certainly not easy —they align like crazy. With not just sales, but with every C-executive the CFO can be your friend if you show up as an analytics driven marketer, right? You want budget? Show what you’re doing, show it isn’t working and show them that you actually know what is working. CFO can be. They’re your venture capitalist in marketing, so make sure you have a great relationship with them, same thing with the head of operations, the same thing with sales. So, they’re aligning those are a few things that that they’re working.

As I said, I wish I could tell you the stack matters. Most of it does not. I’ve seen people be successful with mediocre tools doing things really, really well. And people fail with the best tools because they’re not being very process-oriented.

I said the four Ps earlier, there’s a couple other PS, and that’s process and programming. So, one of things I said in my book Manufacturing Demand is don’t forget about these two other PS because you got to set processes and marketing. Live processes more than you ever have, and you got to learn programming. I don’t mean code I mean using technology to drive growth.

Joe Hyland:

Sure. Okay. Now, what just drives you crazy, like what do you get pulled into from your clients and you’re shocked that they still have that problem because you see the good and the bad.

David Lewis:

I think that one’s harder for me and that you hear me think about because we really try to educate our sales team on what our ICP looks like. And we will DQ, underperforming teams and cultures because we can’t fix broken and it’s harder to pour for me to find examples where we’re trying to have an All-Star cast of clients and the brands that we work within the companies that we work with are all their best in class. 60-some-odd percent of the SiriusDecisions Award winners have been our clients and think we won over our clients combined at one over 70 Marquis and Revies and Stacky awards just this past week.

So, we’re pretty selective on who we work with. But if I see a gap it’s when the leader doesn’t realize that their strength is either on the art or the science and doesn’t get that complement to their team to address their gap. I know of someone I’m thinking of right now, not a client yet, that just took a CMO role. And this person is very marketing operations and technology oriented. Well, now, they’ve got product marketing and branding and messaging and PR and if they don’t get some people that are exceptionally strong there, unless they’ve also have those skills, which is not often the case, they might not succeed in this this first-time CMO role. So, surround yourself with talent when you don’t it shows up.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. And that Echo something you said earlier on about 10 minutes ago was as a head of an organization, you don’t have to be all things — surround yourself with experts. If I was in charge of our operations, like I’m not operationally strong, it’s just not what I’m interested in is not my skill set if you had me poking around Marketo or Salesforce — we would be screwed. It’s just not my strength. We have a great marketing Ops Team, right? So, smart people know where they’re not smart and where they need where they help.

David Lewis:

So, this is Marketo assessment that we built that I told you, it’s wicked cool. At one point we needed to create an autoresponder email and need to be highly responsive. One of the guys on the team was trying to get the HTML to work. He couldn’t. He gave it to one of the other guys on the team. They got turned around in four minutes and made it exceptional.

And just, you know, having someone that you can throw something to and get back four minutes later and it’s amazing is a great just tactical example of like, “Give the ball to the person that can throw it through the hoop or get it down the court.”

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no. No, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. All right. Well, let’s end with that. Dave, I want to thank you again, this has been fantastic. And that concludes this week’s episode. Thanks so much.

David Lewis:

All right, thank you.

CMO Confessions Ep 5: HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar

Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering all things marketing.

For this episode, we got someone who knows content inside and out. I’m talking, of course, of Kipp Bodnar, CMO of HubSpot. Kipp’s work involves coordinating HubSpot’s global inbound marketing strategy, which means he does a lot of everything on top of a lot of writing. In fact, Kipp quite literally wrote the book on B2B social media marketing in his tome, The B2B Social Media Book: Becoming a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email and More.

In this episode, we discuss what went into producing his book, what goes into book promotion and how marketers ought to look to long-term growth  — even if a CEO is short-sighted.

As always, you can find Kipp and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @kippbodnar.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me. This week is Kipp Bodnar, CMO of HubSpot. Kipp, how are you doing today?

Kipp Bodnar:

I’m doing great, man. How are you?

Joe Hyland:

I am fantastic. Thanks again for joining me, I really appreciate it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Happy to be here.

Joe Hyland:

So, I found out that we have a few things in common. One being a huge marketing dork — something that seems like you take a lot of pride in — the other, perhaps, an unhealthy love of ketchup.

Kipp Bodnar:

I do love ketchup guy get a rap for that. The waitresses at the restaurant always look at me when I ask for a second ketchup. I’m like, “Yeah, can I just have some ketchup for the table?” I want a safe space, I don’t want any judgment.

Joe Hyland:

When I was last in London, they have those very small tubes of ketchup that is pretty small, sufficient for, like, seven french fries. When I asked for more, our marketing leader for EMEA was like, “Joe this is not normal.” And he just sat there and watched. So anyway.

Kipp Bodnar:

I do like the chili sauce that they use in London in Ireland and everything with their chips. I like that trend as well though.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah chili sauce and chips are awesome.

Joe Hyland:

Exactly. Well, let’s talk about dorking out on marketing and geeking out. That’s really what we’re here today to discuss. So, I guess I’ll kick it off with a question: what’s your what’s your biggest pet peeve in marketing or in your role? What do you struggle the most with?

Kipp Bodnar:

Oh, two different things there. Pet peeve in marketing is people who do incremental things. Marketing’s job is to try to do new stuff that is interesting and creative and solves the problems our prospects and our customers face. And if you just kind of increment on everything you’ve done you lose all your leverage, you lose all your advantage and you’re just boring.

So that’s pet peeve. Things that I most struggle with: Scales real, man. Everybody tells you, “Oh, scale’s hard.” No, scale’s really hard. Scale is really, really hard. Let me tell you that Marketing in six languages and always having somebody doing marketing any hour of the day regardless, whatever you have to do that hour of the day. That’s not easy. That’s hard. Anybody who tells you that’s not hard. I don’t know insane or something. It’s hard.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well, I think the combination of those two answers is it makes it really difficult — is, one, scale is, and I couldn’t agree with you any more, scale is so real scale is difficult. And what worked before won’t necessarily work going forward, right? So, just trying to do incremental things or stuff is not is not the recipe for success, but that’s challenging because it might be what led to success up until now.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yes, it’s hard. Doing new stuff is hard. You know we call it “dragging the spreadsheet,” you can always just drag the spreadsheet out another year. Estimated another 10% improvement on this thing.

Joe Hyland:

I love that phrase. That’s fantastic. I never heard that.

Kipp Bodnar:

We talk about it all the time. You can’t drag the spreadsheet. It’s kind of colloquialism here. The flip side of it is like it’s easy to do too much new stuff.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah.

Kipp Bodnar:

Right? If you do something new and it works, you got to drag the spreadsheet in a while. You need to basically figure out like your point of maximization of return of that discovery and that effort — you do have to do it for a little while. But still, like if you only do that and you don’t do any new stuff, then you’re eventually just gonna kind of shrink and shrink over time.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, you’ve been at HubSpot for a while, right man?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, year nine now.

Joe Hyland:

Wow, that’s crazy. How big was the team when you started? And compare it to now.

Kipp Bodnar:

I think the company was coming to about 100 people and I think we’re now like 2,200 people maybe.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s quite the ride.

Kipp Bodnar:

Somewhere around there? So, it’s definitely a change and 2,200 people across offices all around the world — so that makes it a little different too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s scale.

Kipp Bodnar:

Scale’s real man.

Joe Hyland:

So, I think there’s a lot of reasons people respect HubSpot so much. As a marketer, what you guys have built, the beyond the brand, I think that category creation is just something that’s admirable. And the commitment to content is, I think, the way to build a phenomenal marketing department — also a phenomenal company. But a lot of CEOs don’t either have the patience for that or the respect or recognition for how critical marketing is for growth. I think, when I started in marketing, we were kind of the T-shirt Department, right? You know, whatever sales needed but don’t be strategic at all and you know the tchotchkes.

I’ve seen that change a lot. But I still see a lot of CEOs who still look at marketing as the janitorial department of the executive staff. I’d be curious to know your thoughts, one at HubSpot, but also just in general, how CEOs are viewing marketing.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m good with the broom. I can clean it the best on them. Not my preferred skill though. I think that question is very different depending on where you are in the world, one. There are lots of different markets at different levels of maturation. You know, marketing is still much earlier on and its growth and life cycle in countries in Latin America and Japan. Other folks are a bit further along in a lot of the European countries — very interesting in that way.

The reality is that a lot of CEOs are short-term growth focused. And when your short-term growth focused you want to do bad crappy things that get you results in the short term — cold email, cold call, have a giant outsource call center in some far-off land to try to qualify leads for you — and do all of these things that have huge, huge long-term negative brand drag, prospects perception drag, customer perception drag. And quite frankly, it’s just gonna all be illegal soon. I think if you look at GDPR, for example, I mean GDPR essentially makes cold calling, for all intents and purposes, pretty illegal. There’s some B2B intent arguments to be made, but even then, like, the first thing you do if you’re in Europe and you cold call somebody you’re going to tell them, “Oh, by the way, I have to disclose to you before we start our cold call that I found your information on LinkedIn…” And it’s like, you actually think that’s gonna be effective? Like is that actually gonna work? Like, what person you like, “Oh, yeah, these are the people I want to work with.”

And so, I think, because of that, the brute force short-term thinking — like marketing can get undervalued and get a bad rap — and part of it is that I think it’s on the onus of everybody who’s in the marketing profession to focus on the business strategy and to be deeply integrated into the business and understand where the core opportunities are and make sure that the marketing strategy and the effort that you’re putting against actually like foots with that well. I mean, oftentimes this problem comes out of the marketers and the core leadership team being disconnected in terms of strategy and priorities there. And so, I think it’s our job to actually get aligned and make that happen.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, where you ended is really where I sit on that point. I think it’s marketing’s job to ensure that marketing is strategic, right?

Kipp Bodnar:

You have to be good at marketing. You’ve also have to be good at your job. Like it’s hard. Marketing is a hard job. There’s a reason that the lifespan of a CMO is sub two years, you know.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true. And few CEOs come up through marketing. So, it’s a challenge you have as being a head of marketing is that you’re reporting to someone who might not necessarily have ever practice your craft, right? So, yeah, you’re right, the onus is on you to ensure that they understand the value of it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

You ran demand gen prior to being CMO, right?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, I did.

Joe Hyland:

So, how do you — it’d be interesting to see if this answer would change from when you were the head of demand gen versus owning it all now — how do you balance…

Kipp Bodnar:

Almost always is probably the answer to that.

Joe Hyland:

Joking, aside probably — perspective changes a little bit. How do you balance building pipeline and building that demand with the kind of broader brand and content messaging?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah for us, those things aren’t as much in conflict as most people, right? Because our content is how we get people to discover, learn about, not just our brand, but also our products, and get that initial engagement with us.

So, content is core to how we generate demand. Where you actually have that conflict is you know — if you think about content, I think there’s kind of two types of content in the world. There’s the content that your audience knows they want and your job is to give them what they want. And then there’s the content that your audience doesn’t know that it wants, and your job is to get the audience to believe what you want them to believe because you know, you’re right. And, if your job is demand generation, you really only actually really want the first part, which is the giving them what they want because your conversion rates are higher, your reach is higher your funnel looks way better when you look at the numbers.

If you run marketing and you’re a CMO you have to have both because you lose your brand if you only give people what you want, you don’t have a brand you’re not a point of view, you don’t have perspective — all those things. So, I think that’s probably the biggest change when you’re thinking about just demand generation versus the overall story of the business, the brand, and how everything that marketing does works together.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, and how about your — I’m not sure what you guys call them at HubSpot — your sales development team or the qualification arm. Are they kind of the intermediary between your group and sales? Are they only touching inbound leads or people who have expressed interest? What’s that relationship look like?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah for us, it’s interesting because those folks have a bunch of opportunities. They have people who are coming in and actively engaging with us and have expressed kind of a marketing or sales problem through the content they consume. They are people who chat with us on our website or on Facebook Messenger, one of kind of our instant interaction messaging channels — having l-time conversation. We have an amazing free CRM product and we have lots of people coming in and signing up and using that and so they are also connecting with users who are in their journey on our free products to understand the problems they’re trying to solve and if they might be a better fit for, you know, one of our professional products, for example.

And so, they’re not doing much of any what you would consider cold would be. Maybe they’ve they’re talking to a user or somebody from a company and they’re like, “Oh actually really need to talk to a different person at that company.” So, I need to go and like find the right contact and go and reach out to them and they might like add that contact in and talk to them, but those are the those are the types of people that they’re really going to talk to on a daily basis.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. Does that group sit underneath the head of sales? Your counterpart in sales, does it sit in your group?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, that’s in sales and I totally think it should sit in sales. I think putting SDRs or VDRs or whatever you want to call them, your kind of qualifying sales team, on marketing is just not as effective. You can’t give them the leadership, the coaching, everything they need to actually develop their career and become remarkable sales people and leaders long term.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point because while some BDRs or SDRs might go into marketing, the vast majority think of themselves as early in their sales career, right? So…

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

They probably don’t want to look to you and I for guidance they want to look to the head of sales.

Kipp Bodnar:

I mean, I think I’m cool, but I don’t think they think I’m cool. So, they’re likely gonna want to look up at and work with other people and they should do that. And we’re in really good alignment with them and give them what they need, but I think that being part of sales is the right thing there.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I know from watching one of your presentations that you don’t think you’re cool, you just think you’re a marketing geek.

Kipp Bodnar:

Well, I am, and I happen to think of being a marketing geek is cool. So, I guess in a roundabout way, that’s true. But yeah, I’m a dork and I’d much rather be doing marketing than most other things. So that’s just who I am.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you should love what you do and out here in the out here in San Francisco being marketing dork is certainly cool.

Kipp Bodnar:

That’s true, that’s true.

Joe Hyland:

I’d love to — I think it was a while ago you published this — but I’d love to talk to you about the process of writing your book.

I guess two reasons. One is I’m just curious since it’s been a while now. You know, what you think of it and what you think of the process. I also think it’s interesting from a career perspective because it was a pretty ambitious undertaking. I think a lot of the listeners would just be interested to hear how you even went about it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Like, how do you write a book, and should you write a book basically? It’s interesting — we talk about a lot about this internally. It’s like, you know, I think we wrote the book — I wrote my book with my co-author Jeff like five years ago, maybe — some like that? And then obviously Brian [Halligan] and Dharmesh [Shah] at the Inbound Marketing book a couple years before that.

I think books are very important at certain stages of markets and both those books I thought were important and worth writing at the time because the market was so early on, there was so much speculation and so much thought that, one, you just needed to take the exercise of compiling a lot of research and information into a book to solidify your thoughts and recommendations to the market because there’s so much conversation and disagreement and debate in the market. And so, I think, when that’s the case, they can be very, very valuable. I think books themselves are a little less valuable today. It’s harder to distribute a book. It’s harder to get people to read an actual book today…

Joe Hyland:

What a sad statement that is.

Kipp Bodnar:

That is. It might be sad, but it’s also true I think, unfortunately. So, because of that you’ve got to really think that your message is new, novel, if you have a compelling way to tell it, and it’s what your audience needs right now. And there’s, one, that long format way to tell that story and that depth is really needed to tell that story effectively and that there’s no other kind of version of that story in this format that exists.

You know, I think when Brian and Darmesh at the Inbound Marketing book, for example, that was a fresh novel story that really didn’t exist. And people needed to have that book because it was like this it was a transformational thing. You needed to talk to people in your team and your company to do things differently and you kind of need the validation of this physical thing that other people read the publisher said was good that you can kind of point to and say like, hey we can do this thing. There’s a lot more credibility that you get from that maybe just an article on the Internet or a video or something.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, for this book, talk me through the initial genesis, how the idea even started and then what you did right. Like, who do you get in touch with? How did you start compiling a plan? Did HubSpot stand behind it?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, so the HubSpot team, Mike, Brian and Darmesh everybody were like, “Yeah go do it.” Don’t see any issues any issues. So, basically did it kind of nights and weekends. So, on Sundays, I would spend like four to six hours on a Sunday, and I would just you know kind of head down right? I like to write early in the morning. So, I’d wake up and write for a few hours and then go about the rest of my Sunday and do that kind of thing…

Joe Hyland:

So that’s cool. Sorry to interject — you went to leadership and said “Hey I’ve got this idea. I think this is a unique point in the market, right? This isn’t just total BS. I’m not trying to get my name out there.” They nodded their heads. I like it. And then from there, you started working on it on your own time, though, it wasn’t like you were doing this 20 hours during the week.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, no, I was doing my real job and I just felt like, one, it was a topic that the market needed — it was a book about talking about social media from more of a B2B lead generation perspective — which nobody really talking about at the time. It was very much consumer, kind of community building, and so you needed that different articulation in the market. And I felt like there’s a lot of misconceptions and just myths and stuff out there. So, I wanted to kind of set that straight. Jeff, who wrote the book with me, kind of felt the same way. And so, we’ve known each other for a while so we decided to embark on that. I got connected with Shannon Vargo, who’s an awesome editor over at Wiley, and kind of talked to her about it, and she thought I was a cool idea. And so we struck an agreement with them pretty quickly and I think over the span of four to six months got everything written and edited and out the door.

Joe Hyland: Really? That is impressive.

Kipp Bodnar:

I am an impatient human being, man. I don’t do a lot of stuff over a real long period of time — if I’m gonna commit I’m gonna be all in and I’m gonna get it done.

Joe Hyland:

When I was at Kronos, a Massachusetts company, we authored a book as well. And I will admit that it was it was not that quick of a process. It was about a two-year process for us, so.

Kipp Bodnar:

It can be long, it can be hard. But, you know, it’s about what you’re putting in. If you’re clear on your point of view and you’re clear on the story you want to tell it can be fast if you’re willing to schedule it, make the time for it, and kind of make it happen.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think the nights and weekends writing, while perhaps a little arduous, was helpful. It was just hard to squeeze it in with everything else we were working on.

Kipp Bodnar:

Exactly. Like anything else, you got to prioritize and make something a priority to get it done.

Joe Hyland:

So now you have a finished product — and, by the way, a pretty good name, “Becoming a Marketing Superstar,” which is only part of the title —  is quite a popular theme in a lot of marketing campaigns now. Five years ago, you know, it really wasn’t.

Kipp Bodnar:

I think it was pretty novel at the time.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s catchy title. So, then what happens next? Other than your parents and family are probably immensely, you know, proud of you.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, sure. You have some people proud of you and you’re just relieved to have it done. Then you go, and you speak on the circuit. You got a new platform, you’ve got something very clear to talk about and so you sign up at a bunch of events and you kind of have a kind of a 45-minute keynote summary of the book that you are delivering and gauging with people on and that’s driving book sales and getting your kind of point of view in the market out over the course of the next 12 months.

And that’s kind of — for anybody out there is thinking about doing it — that’s kind of what you’re committing to. You’re not just committed to writing a book, you’re committing to all of the commentary, the content, the presentation development and everything that comes after it.

Joe Hyland:

And, at HubSpot was this a demand gen machine for you? Was this used in campaigns? How successful was it from that standpoint?

Kipp Bodnar:

We used it in some campaigns. At the time, the Inbound Marketing book was still so resonate that this was like a sub-campaign element. You had that marketing book still being the core book campaign and driver by far because the book we did was just focused on social media. Whereas the Inbound Marketing book was more representative of the macro change across all the channels, which I felt like — especially if you’re doing demand generation, as out there who does knows —  broader subjects tend to provide better results, right? Because you’re reaching more people and everything in that regard. So yeah, that how we thought about it.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. I just think that’s an interesting story to hear. All right, I’d love to just I’d love to get your perspective career trajectory and career growth. I get asked this question a lot. I think there’s a lot of ambitious marketers out there and they’re curious to know how people get to certain posts. So, did you have some master plan?

Kipp Bodnar:

No, never. I would be lying to you if I did. I just interviewed a candidate and told them the exact same thing. So, I’m just telling you what I told them. I’ve no master plan. My master plan was to do work I like with people I like. That’s really all I cared about then and still care about today. That’s my motive.

My advice to everybody out here on this topic is most of the time, the people who have very grand career plans and have very prescribed, like, “I need to be at this title in this amount of time.” That doesn’t work that well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree.

Kipp Bodnar:

You know what works really well? Solving remarkable problems in remarkable ways. That’s really all you need to do. My whole advice is find the most important problem that nobody wants to tackle because, maybe perceived to be boring, maybe it’s just not time for anybody else to do it yet, there are whole host of reasons, and if you go and do that and you have a big impact on that, then turns out you just keep getting the opportunity to solve more and more problems. Then you quickly become the person that everybody expects to solve all the problems.

And if you do that in a way in which you have a good attitude, and you’re helpful, and you’re somebody that people want to work with instead of against, then you can kind of do whatever you want in your career. You can lead the team or be a great individual contributor. I think manifests its way itself in many, many ways.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I love how you how you ended there because I think life is too short to work with assholes. I mean, you see your co-workers, I see my co-workers more than you see your wife or I see my wife and family, and so you got to love what you do, right? You want to be around people who are optimistic and problem solvers and kind are like-minded. So, I think you’re totally right.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, one, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, right? If you want to be better, you need to surround yourselves with truly remarkable people doing remarkable work — and that’s just a baseline to accomplish success I think today.

Joe Hyland:

I think that is an amazing point to end on. So, with that, Kipp, I want to thank you.

Kipp Bodnar:

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, this has been great and everyone, thanks for tuning in for another episode.