You are here

The B2B CMO’s second chance: The dawn of martech

Debbie Qaqish, chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group, talks about the advantages of a left-brained approach to marketing

Most CMOs feel increased pressure to produce financial results, yet, according to The CMO Survey, less than a third report on any financial metrics. This statistic is especially true for B2B CMOs. I’m sure you have frequent conversations with your board and senior executive team on this very topic. In some cases, you are now accountable – you have a quota. In other cases, you may not yet have direct accountability, but you know it’s coming. In both cases, the pressure is enormous. If neither of these scenarios apply to you, pull your head out of the sand.

Much of the pressure on CMOs results from the abundance of new marketing technologies (about 3,800 at last count), especially those that allow for tracking and closed-loop reporting of financial metrics. Seasoned CMOs can see the vision for marketing becoming the economic engine for the company, but struggle to execute on that vision. Good news: You now have a second chance. If you are relatively new to marketing you have the advantage of starting off using a left- versus right-brained approach and backing it up with a dedicated marketing operations group.

The dawn of MarTech

Let’s go on a short history lesson to provide context for the second chance approach. Marketing automation platforms have been around since 2003. I was a pioneer when I bought Eloqua in 2004. Since the dawn of marketing automation platforms, buyers and users have been right-brained marketers (RBMs). It was up to the RBMs to figure out what to do with technology and what to do with data. As they began to understand just how much they did not know, they “borrowed” expertise in technology, data and analytics from other parts of the organization.

I’ve had many conversations with marketing leaders between 2007 and 2013, when the “borrowing of expertise” was the first step to gain efficiency and effectiveness from the use of the marketing automation platform. Along the way, the RBMs began hiring more technically savvy marketers to run the systems and every once in awhile, we would see a dedicated data analyst on the RBM team. It’s this right-brained progression that has hindered the ability for the CMO to be accountable for credible revenue results. That’s why as we sit here in 2016, less than a third of CMOs can show financial results.

In 2008, we were working with a national sports team and discovered that they had an entire department dedicated to marketing technology and data analysis. I was blown away! I had never seen this. Yet, this was the forerunner of the B2B model to come. In 2015, I interviewed ten companies and wrote an article about full functioning marketing operations groups because I wanted to know more about what they do and the results they created. From this first interview, I began to see a relationship between having a marketing operations capability and achieving efficiency, effectiveness and revenue results from marketing. Around this time, Scott Brinker, program chair of the MarTech Conference series pioneered the concept of MarTech. Today his conferences are growing by leaps and bounds.

Enter LBMs

So, what was really going on here? Enter….the left-brained marketer (LBM). Some people call them marketing technologists, some people call them data scientists. I call them Unicorns because they are still very rare. The LBM is a combination of general marketing skills, business acumen and deep technical and data analysis skills. The LBM works in a marketing operations structure, is dedicated to technology (integration and optimization), data (understanding and producing shareable and consumable insights) and process optimization.

Second chances

According to Dan Brown, VP of marketing operations at Verint, “The mission of MO at Verint is to make the global marketing team effective and efficient in pursuit of marketing objectives.” This dedicated structure indicates that technology and data play a key role in marketing and that marketing plays a key role in the business. With a marketing operations function in place run by a team of LBMs, the CMO’s ability to drive credible revenue results is amplified.

Marketing operations is one of the fastest growing areas in marketing and why it serves as an accelerator of CMO accountability. Dan quotes his CMO from a recent conversation “I cannot imagine doing my job without our marketing ops team.”

So here is how you take that second chance. Rather than trying to lead with an RBM approach to technology and data, lead with an LBM approach ensconced in a dedicated marketing operations capability. Here are three practical steps:

1. Determine your 2017 goals for marketing.

2. Create a visual of all the marketing technology you currently use. Connect the dots in terms of data flow as it is today and how you would like to have it. Determine how your marketing stack can help you achieve your 2017 goals.

3. Conduct a skills gap assessment. Determine what skills you have and compare to what you need to effectively optimize your marketing technology stack to achieve your goals. Budget and get that talent.