I had the privilege of attending the Forbes CMO Summit 2018 a few weeks back. It was a veritable who’s who in the world of marketing, including (in no particular order) CMO’s from Hallmark, PepsiCo, Cadillac, Visa, Microsoft, Wendy’s, Ebay, Salesforce and more.
The overall theme was Champions of Change: CMOs at the Center of Business, Tech and Cultural Innovation. During my career in marketing, which if you must know spans several decades, the role of marketing has changed dramatically. Tools and concepts have changed, the audience is more sophisticated, with lofty expectations, and our organizations are now at the center of it all, owning everything from top of the funnel to revenue to up-sell, renewals and churn. But at the heart of it, we still need to connect one on one with people. Or as Forbes summed up the conference, “data is king, but the heart rules”.
Here are my top 5 takeaways that can be applied to every role in every organization:
1.) Be authentic – It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy that is our daily lives, both at work and home. It’s also very easy to fall into the spell of doing just enough, cutting corners, and in some cases, even being lazy (or as someone once put it, “having the minimum amount of flare”). But to truly be successful, productive (and happy), you really need to be present, be yourself, and be authentic – even if that scares you. Lindsey Foy, CMO of Hallmark, articulated this in her talk at the Summit, which is similar to her Ted talk here. It’s well worth the 17 minutes to watch.
2.) People first, not customers first – This is true for B2B, as well as the obvious B2C. In order to truly engage with buyers, you need to establish rapport and trust and then build on that relationship. Treat people as citizens of your company.
3.) Ask the question “how can I/we add value to that person’s life?”. – By doing this you are focusing on the needs of your customers. I can’t tell you how many sales calls I’ve been on where the person tells me what their solution/features/benefits are without asking me about my needs. But this is also true of marketing collateral I see (and sometimes create). In other words, too focused on what it is versus what value it will bring, not just to the company, but to the end users or consumers of the product or solution.
4.) Live the brand. Become the story. – When I was at Oracle, we had a saying, “eat your own dog food.” Sounds trite, but for me it was meaningful. We used our own software to do our job. We had specific insight to its features, how to use it, what worked, and what didn’t work. We actually ended up creating a case study on it. Can’t get any more “live the brand, become the story” than that. But by doing this, it helped us develop the right content and programs to attract them. And let’s face it, if you’re not working for a company you believe in, you’re probably not going to be happy.
5.) Create the right environment for the above to happen seamlessly – Above all else, as leaders, we need to create the kind of environment for 1-4 to exist and thrive.
It’s not often we take the time out of our busy schedule to participate in events like this. Turning the laptop off, putting away the phone, cancelling all meetings and truly being present. For me, this was a great reminder of why I went into marketing in the first place. These takeaways and concepts aren’t new. They are not groundbreaking. They are just reminders of the ways we might have strayed and how to get back on the right path (whatever that may be for you).
So to summarize – be authentic, value customers, and live your brand. Super easy, right?!? Now go forth and be a champion of change.
Written by: Christina Del Villar, Global Head of Marketing, Enterprise at Udacity
Christina is passionate about seeing companies transform, grow and scale, leveraging technology. With over 20 years of executive-level growth marketing experience at Fortune 100 companies and over 10 startups, she has a successful history of building teams that execute innovative go-to-market roadmaps and strategy. Christina loves working with companies that are going through a growth phase and she has the experience and industry perspective needed to take growing businesses to the next level. Her role at Webgility put Christina in a unique position to impact the e-tail industry with powerful e-commerce solutions. Her most recent role at Udacity, involves shifting the company focus from a B2C model to a B2B model. Christina also enjoys traveling, participating in endurance events, and working with various nonprofits, including Team Ronald McDonald House and Best Buddies.