The average tenure of a CMO is less than 2 years - a dramatic decline from even 5 years ago. Part of that is because of marketing’s drive into revenue, according to guest Juney Ham, CEO of Beacon. But what’s driving that shift? How have marketing teams changed in recent years, and where are they going? Tune into this episode of Out of the Box to learn how strong marketing teams are structured, and the steps it takes to restructure themselves for success.
Design your performance team as a marketing leader
9:45 Juney - “As it relates to building a performance marketing or growth marketing team today, there’s two key things I would think of. The first is that the team in general, not every single person on the team, but overall, has to have a heavy understanding, interest, or leaning towards analytics and product management. While these skills aren’t the skills that the core team will use on a day-to-day basis, they will interface really closely with product managers or with analysts. Those people might be in the marketing organization or they might be outside of the marketing organization… The initiatives and the strategies that marketing is driving is dependent on what is on the page, what the funnel looks like, and what the outcomes are from a product design or product management standpoint.
Second is to map the organizational branches to stakeholder organizations. Marketing has emerged to be one of the most horizontal teams in any large organization. Marketing is oftentimes really closely connected to revenue. They also have key stakeholders in sales, project management, analytics, operations, etc. Being able to design your team as a marketing leader that connects really seamlessly with the rest of the organization is really important. In times when I either had that organization when I joined a company or was able to implement it, it really made my job a lot easier because the communication channels were much more seamless and there was less of an antagonistic relationship between departments, which can happen. Companies large and small can have organizational challenges if things are more siloed. Being able to create those communication channels and keep them as open as consistently as possible is one of the key advantages to a marketing team that has that at their disposal to be successful.
The marketing shift
13:37 Juney - “If I look back on my career, going from somebody who led one particular channel with marketing to multiple channels and then to running marketing as an executive, I learned a lot in that period of growth and maturity. One of the most important things about that process was this idea of being able to really understand your business. I think that reflects the idea that marketers have evolved from somebody who is focused on the story. If you think about marketing, it’s about telling a story to your audience and having them believe that story, whether that is selling a product, communicating thought leadership, or getting them to perform a downstream action. That storytelling value is still incredibly important to the marketer but it’s also shifting to this idea that marketers are now as much responsible for revenue and P&L, as your general manager or your operator leaders.
That shift has been the most interesting shift that marketing, as a discipline, has made and I can’t speak for all marketers across all sectors, but I know in the suites we operate in, technology and tech enabled marketplaces, the ability for a marketing leader to speak the language of a P&L and run their marketing team like a business is incredibly important. I think that’s a natural condition for a marketing leader if they do want to move into a more horizontal leadership role.”
Marketing as a flywheel experience, rather than a top of the funnel experience
17:25 Juney - “This poses a challenge for marketing leaders and marketing organizations as well. I think it’s unequivocally a good thing. It means that marketing as a discipline, overall, is evolving and becoming more strategic and, therefore, not only does it have a more meaningful seat at the table, the other departments that comprise the leadership team are listening and are more aware of marketing’s growing influence and ownership. At the same time, the average tenure of a CMO is less than 2 years, like 18 months. That’s a dramatic decline from what you might have seen 5 years ago or 10 years ago. I believe that’s in large part driven by the expectations of a marketing leader changing and also becoming more vague and uncertain. Part of that is because of marketing’s drive into revenue.”
“So many of my marketing colleagues say that it feels like they have a target on their back and that reflects the idea that marketing is subsuming these other organizations or flipping the script on who is the stakeholder, who is the executor, who’s strategic, who’s operational, and it’s creating tension in leadership teams. When you have a new marketer come into a role that’s been open and approach it from this revenue lens, it can be disconcerting to the other executive leaders. I believe that there’s a world where the CMO ends up having a more and more meaningful mandate or the role actually ends up going away. In some sense, the CMO is than the CRO. They become a stained function in some ways, and it depends on the organization. That’s something that we’re starting to see, that these skill sets that the current crop of exceptional CMOs have are starting to look a lot more like CROs and COOs as much as they have looked like CMOs in the past.”
Growth team restructuring
21:47 Juney - “Multiple sides of the marketplace sometimes have shared operational needs. Rather than having disparate sales operations and a marketing operations function, you end up having a revenue operations function. Execution, sometimes, sits within the marketing/sales teams but as a centralized, analytical process team that’s supporting both or all sides of the marketplace.
I’m also seeing that the CMO role that spans across all marketing is still titled CMO but is more of like a brand leader and some of the more marketing operations, marketing automation, technical marketing components are sitting under product. That’s to align the market channel leaders much more closely with product management which is often the interface to get resourcing and to facilitate execution. If your product is completely online, say if your SaaS, then connecting the marketing team to the product team makes a lot of sense and it actually reduces back and forth because those teams are not reporting to separate organizations and, oftentimes, your OKRs can be much more tightly coupled. Those are some of the trends and examples that I’m seeing based on the companies that Beacon works with. It is really dependent on what kind of company you are.”
25:49 Juney - “Depending on the nature of the marketplace, you do end up running two different marketing strategies or two different marketing teams - one for each set of the marketplace. At Hired, we were marketing to software engineers, product managers, and designers as individuals, as end users in a B2C context. We were trying to get them to join our marketplace while, on the other side, we were building up B2B client side, mid market, marketing teams that connected and partnered with our sales team. Initially, marketing was responsible for a lot of sales enablement, inbound marketing. We help with content creation, thought leadership, and we partner really closely with the sales team. Those two mandates are fairly different.
Another thing that adds complexity is this idea of supply and demand. This idea that because marketplaces have two different sides that constantly ebb and flow, marketing is often the team responsible for not only driving more supply and demand into the marketplace, but also calibrating them.
You have a bunch of categories that you’re managing and then you have markets. Because, oftentimes, you’re dealing with scarce inventory or localized inventory, each marketplace is dependent on how many software engineers there are in Denver vs. Toronto vs. New York. Not only are you calibrating a marketplace, you’re calibrating many marketplaces.”
33:38 Juney - “I was pretty fortunate in that the leaders in the company I was a part of when changes happened, allowed me to fill that space without feeling like there had to be a conversation about who owns what or the organizational dynamics.
Whether you’re the CEO of the company or you’re the marketing leader, it’s important to disconnect somebody going in to examine and explore that space that came with a recommendation versus the long-term strategy or ownership and, be really clear with your team about it.”
Today, every new channel, every new product creates these spaces but these spaces are filled a lot more quickly. Growth marketing has evolved from being analytics, product, and marketing into how quickly they can explore and exploit new and emerging channels for the benefit of the company.”
Some of the things I learned in my experience…
39:52 Juney - “... are relevant today and some of the things are not. The first is that there’s nothing quite like being as close to data as you possibly can, being on the metal of how your channels are performing and what data is coming in from various systems that aggregate into your databases. I think that still applies today and what I mean by that is we are now in a world where there are systems on top of systems on top of systems. So, it is harder to get to real or rock fidelity around information or data.
“The other thing which is something that I didn’t practice and was not important back then is the idea that you should always be aware of what is coming out and start to tune your sense for whether something has legs or not. When you are in an early stage company you don’t have a large budget, you don’t have a large team, you have to be scrappy. Scrappy is not just standing up for something quickly, it’s also taking advantage of short periods of time. There is a world where channels can rise and fall in a year.”
Out of the Box Marketing
44:40 Juney - “The one thing that I look at, if I look back at my career and say that was pretty interesting, was when scope added Upside and it was that base and we were in the process of launching our marketing. We started out with performance marketing channels first. We did a lot of A/B testing on ad copy. One of the ones we tested outperformed by this incredible magnitude of performance and improvement above the other ads. It was so different than all the other testing we were running which were sort of incremental changes on the incumbent ad. I decided to take that phrase, ‘Beat the robo advisors,’ and applied it to everything. I replaced our home page hero image text and replaced it with that vs. the old hero. I tested our PR pitches with this phrase. I really tried applying it to everything and it turned out that that phrase worked for everything. We were struggling getting media relationships from the people who we were pitching - journalists and reporters. I changed it to this phrase as part of our headline and part of our initial copy and it got picked up right away. It transformed our business awareness almost over night. It goes to show you that while this idea that the things you learn from tests and from comparing different variants and running A/B tests is very important in the context of performance marketing.”