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ABM in a brave new world: An interview with Rossa Shanks

We recently caught up with Rossa Shanks, CMO at Dow Jones, to discuss his current role and marketing challenge, his new book dedicated to ABM, and his advice for anyone undertaking ABM programmes in this new post-Covid world.

Tell us a bit about you, and your background. How do you think this prepares you for your current role?

My career so far has been eclectic but thematically consistent because I love creating stuff. I started my career at creative ad agencies, AMV BBDO and Grey London, working across many different brands, from Mercedes Benz and BT to The Economist and PepsiCo. It was a lot of fun creating TV ads and integrated ad campaigns.

At Grey London, we pitched and won the News UK account. Six months later, the CMO of News UK poached me and I switched gears to B2C client-side marketing. Advertising is such a small slice of the marketing pie, so it was a great opportunity to take on a new learning curve. However, at the time, I had an entrepreneurial itch. So, it wasn’t long before I left to start my own business with a friend from the advertising industry. It was called Great Little Place — a user-generated little black book of the most charming places to go. I was CEO but, in reality, I spent a lot of my time as the de facto CMO because we were a small team.

I believe start-up marketing is a discipline in and of itself. Building a company from the ground up requires imagination, grit and tenacity. So, I educated myself and read about viral loops and growth hacking and turned my hand to that. As a result, we grew our community to over 1.5 million fans on social media and managed to attract 110,000 founding members’ email addresses before debuting on the app store and being featured as Apple’s No. 1 app of the week.

Working in the start-up world is a great adventure but, in the end, my corporate roots came calling again. The former CMO of News UK, who had previously hired me, had moved on to become president of Dow Jones in New York. So, when the call came to become CMO of Dow Jones across the pond four years ago, I couldn’t say no. It’s at that point that I had to learn B2B marketing from scratch whilst building out a whole new team.

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