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Q&A: Carl Robertson, CMO at Colt

Carl Robertson, chief marketing officer at Colt, on the next big thing in B2B marketing, his favourite ad campaign and a rock‘n'roll dream job

What was your first B2B-related job?
I began my B2B journey working as a placement student at the company then known as Rank Xerox.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy being a change agent and working in a dynamic organisation where we can make things happen fast.
Which B2B brand do you most admire?
It would have to be BlackBerry. Research in Motion (RIM) developed not just a phone but a lifestyle choice. It has become the must-have business smartphone.
Whose job would you like most?
A respected radio DJ like the late John Peel. His eclectic taste and contribution to music was impressive.
What's the best piece of marketing advice you've even been given?
The main tip I have learned is ‘Don't ask your customers what they want, instead ask them what their problems are'. The other piece of sound piece of advice I received was ‘be prepared to listen'.
What is your proudest achievement?

I believe that the last nine months at Colt have been the busiest and most fulfilling for myself and the rest of the Colt marketing team. The way the team has come together to deliver the new brand and the new eCommerce platform has been incredible.
To succeed, a B2B marketer must...
Demonstrate to the business that marketing is not a cost centre but a powerful tool with measurable ROI.
What is your favourite B2B ad campaign past or present?
I think it's got to be Symantec's "The one virtual world" campaign.
What's the next big thing in B2B marketing?
Business analytics. Most companies hold a lot of information within their databases but people but don't know how to use them effectively.
Our jobs would be easier if...
If we were able to unlearn and then relearn.
What are the most important traits in a B2B marketer?
You have got to be curious, creative and driven. A great sense of humour helps too.
What are the traits you most and least admire in yourself?
I have high energy that is great for getting things done but sometimes drives people crazy especially after caffeine and sugar.
My biggest extravagance is...
Good wine. In fact, I am in the process of buying a small vineyard and look forward to drinking my own wine some day!
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

It changes regularly but people tell me I say "stuff" repeatedly.
What marketing challenge are you currently wrestling with?
Reaching a growing number of people along the entire customer journey.
What was your last marketing epiphany?
The "live chat" functionality on the Colt website was my last light bulb moment. It has worked really well and delivered high quality leads.
Which marketing campaign or idea do you wish you'd thought of?
The whole business model around Google PPC is clever.
Which marketing or business books would you recommend?
The Lovemarks books by Kevin Roberts (CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi). The books talk about the importance of emotion in branding - something we see increasingly present in the B2B sales and marketing process.
Which individual has had the most influence on your career?
My English teacher in Cairo who really nurtured my creativity.