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Innovation is a Core Competency of a Successful CMO!

And this was clearly evident as several CMOs shared their success stories at Mass Tech Leadership Council’s recent 2013 Marketing Summit.  CMO’s and other marketing executives shared valuable insight on how to do “more with less” – the theme of the event.  Sure, as marketers we’ve been using that term at least since the Internet bust ~13 years ago; however, we’ve come a long way since then. Not only has marketing slimmed down from a staff perspective, but more importantly, we’ve developed a laser focus on being more relevant to our buyers and internal customers. In addition, we’ve developed a healthy obsession with metrics to demonstrate our value to the organization and better manage our precious budget. But even with this greater maturity, the worst thing we can do at this stage is lessen our drive for innovation.  Here are just a few of the key insights from this summit to help you and your marketing team keep innovation at the forefront of your marketing strategy and tactics:
  • Content is King:  Be a source of value for your buyers, even if your content strays from your product offering
    • Inbound marketing offers a significant opportunity for marketers to connect with customers, however, content used as part of this strategy must be of high value and relevance in an increasingly crowded (and noisy) environment
    • As Andy Zimmerman of Brainshark indicated, “We focus on idea generation content with our buyers.” – Andy gets the fact that as marketers, we need to set the vision for our buyers and help them be successful in their job and career.
    • “A BtoB Marketing organization must be a content machine. A key success factor is to hire domain experts, or at least those that will become domain experts and trend watchers. These individuals must communicate about your key topic to your end users and influencers – it must be their passion.” Christina Inge, eZuce
  • But Don’t forget to market your content: A “build it and they will come” strategy is a sure path to failure otherwise.
    • Yes develop great content, however, market your content “gorilla” style. . . . no, I don’t mean “Gangnam styleJ 
    • Brainshark leverages “micro-campaigns” to get the greatest leverage out of their content, using email and other marketing channels
    • Try the pathways that are less followed.  Yes, some will fail, but that is the cost of innovation. (e.g., direct mail, new social media channels, etc.)
  • Your web site is still the front door to your company, so don’t fall short in your first impression with your buyers
    • IDC’s CMO Advisory Service indicates that 45% of a big ticket buyer’s decision is made before they even say “hello” to your sales rep – and the web site is one of the top places they go as part of their decision process prior to meeting with your rep (in addition to their peers of course)
    • Develop customized and high quality messages and content to your buyers on your site, and ease the process for them to get to that information. “Message to someone while on your site, think customization.” [Zimmerman, Brainshark]
  • The power of a successful trial or proof-of-concept cannot be underestimated!
    • Mike Ewing, CMO of LogMeIn, said it well, “A couple of years ago it was all about trial transactions with buyers; now, we need to allow buyers to achieve value through our trial interactions.”
    • One CIO I spoke with at a recent IDC CMO & Sales Advisory meeting indicated, “We did a $3M deal driven by a $50K proof of concept chance that a vendor took on us.”
  • Hire and sustain an analytics team within your marketing organization
    • I don’t mean a simple database analytics team.  You need individuals that can not only analyze data, but more importantly, can extra value from that data that is relevant to your business, and communicate that value/insight in a simple and cohesive manner to drive impact in your organization.  No easy feat.
    • “Two top steps for a CMO to secure a solid relationship with their CEO?. . . set clear expectations and base your strategy and results on METRICS.” as indicated by several CMO panelists at the event. . . . And you’ll need a “crack team” of marketing analysts to help accomplish this objective.
    • IDC:  “50% of new marketing hires in 2013 will have technical backgrounds.” IDC’s CMO Predictions for 2013
  • Marketing Mix
    • The “right marketing mix” varies by company and is dynamic throughout the year. 
    • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different marketing strategies and tactics: “As with any VC firm, the CMO must leverage a diverse set of marketing tactics to ‘beat the market'”, Ellie Mirman, HubSpot.
    • Consider viewing your marketing investment allocations from different perspectives:
      • IDC CMO Advisory data: “B2B Tech CMOs are spending approximately 30% of their budget on digital marketing programs. This is up from 12% in 2009.”
      • “80% demand gen of investment; 10% thought leadership; 10% sales acceleration.” Mary-Katherine McCarey, Ipswitch
      • “57% acquisition (new logos), 13% retention, 30% other.” Melodye Mueller, NaviSite

Please share your comments below, or feel free to reach out to me directly at to continue the conversation on what it takes to consistently deliver value as a BtoB CMO.

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