I recently passed my 5 yr anniversary as a B2B marketing consultant in Silicon Valley and beyond. In that time I’ve met some amazing CMOs and CEOs. B2B Marketing is a never ending multi-layered multi-disciplinary challenge. One , as I described to my daughters 4th grade class with this presentation, that requires you to be part artist, part poet and part scientist. As a died in the wool 7 on the enneagram, it’s one of the reasons I love marketing.
However, I’ve also noticed that the CMO in any B2B company is a highly precarious position. It’s like walking a tight wire between sales, customers and yes, the CEO and the board. When things are going well, you are a flying Wallenda, a member of a rare fraternity of successful daredevils, performing feats of extreme physics with seeminly artistic magic. When you fall though, ouch!
In that spirit, I offer 5 profile of stereotypical of CMOs and other senior marketers that you meet on the way to Marketing Heaven;
1) The CM- Domain Expert – Jane’s got great experience and instinct. And market and product expertise. BUT and here is the big but, she is a) stuck in her ways and therefore answers no first to innovation, she want’s to stick with the tried and true, and b) does not make sales feel that they have real influence on the Go to Market plans and tactics. In the bar, Jane is even doubtful about how much impact she can have. She says, “Well we are pulling our weight, but sales needs to pick it up.”
2) The CM- Yes Sales – On the other end of the spectrum is Jim, the CM Yes Sales. Jim has a plan, but he blindly follows whatever the VP of Sales asks for. He’ll change plans midstream to be “responsive”. His tactics might win the day with sales, but over the long term, there’s no cohesive plan. He resigns his team to be a supporting rather than a leading role and contributor.
3) The Scientist – Jack is a data guy. Hypothesize, test, refine, wash, rinse repeat. He’s a big data analytics metrics machine. He’s got it wired. Jack is great at optimizing the strategy at hand and making incremental improvements. However, when it comes to changing the magnitude of marketing contribution through innovation in messaging, or packaging or pricing or channels, it’s not happening. Because the data isn’t there to support the risk.
4) The Artist –Jill is a master of the creative. From words to pictures to logos and brand, everything is beautiful. But Jill struggles with metrics and measurement. She can’t figure out why the beautiful website is converting worse than the competitors functional one. She confuses beauty for function and can’t really understand the numbers.
5) The Technician – Joe is a pro. Give me X dollars and I’ll get you Y leads. The budget will balance to the penny and Joe never over- or under-spends. Programs run smoothly and professionally. After all, marketing is about mechanics. Like his cousin the scientist, Joe has a great handle on the metrics, especially demand generation, lead flow and the like. He’s got the marketing automation and other technology humming, But Joe can’t craft a message like Jill can, and lead quality is a continuous issue with sales. The machine runs great, but the fuel is often faulty.
Today, we are in the midst of two pendulum swings in marketing, from art to science and from brand to sales. The Scientist, the Technician and the CM Yes Sales have dominant sway over the Artist and the Domain Expert. But as marketing technology becomes table stakes, and the balance between sales and marketing roles settles in response to this, the Artist and the Domain expert are sure to have another day in the sun.
Now of course, if you are a CMO, you probably started as a Jane, Jim, Jack, Jill or Joe. But you’ve learned along the way that you better have all of these personalities in your brain, or you will not succeed. But when the pressure is on, we all lean on our background and our tendencies. When you get to Marketing heaven, you’ve risen above any one of these personality types and you’ve actually become a little bit of all them. Your are an adaptable, multifaceted domain expert with market instinct, artistry, responsiveness, tactical excellence and analytic insight. Easy, no but doable. I guess it’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves falling, we just need to dust ourselves off and continue the journey!