CMOs offer survival tips for 2019

Written by
Drew Neisser

Jan 2, 2019

Jan 2, 2019 • Author: Drew Neisser

Kill the acronyms and get back to basics

Recession or not, 2019 will undoubtedly be a challenging year for chief marketing officers. With unemployment at a miserly 3.7% and a projected 52% of the workforce looking to change jobs, just hanging on to talent will be tough, never mind trying to build up larger in-house teams. Throw in ever-growing martech stacks with related data overload and evaporating trust in institutions and 2018 is going to look like a cake walk.

Yet, despite this gloomy forecast, many B2B CMOs are profoundly optimistic. Several see these challenges as opportunities, believing that with the right moves they will continue to be able to drive growth for their organizations. Here are nine such optimists, with the first four emphasizing the artistic side of marketing and the last five zeroing in how the application of technology will help them cut through in 2019.

Build your brand

Michael Mendenhall, CMO of Trinet, a human resources services provider, prescribes "brand building with an organizing principle and strong narrative that is meaningful, consistent and differentiated" as a top priority for 2019. With so much of the B2B conversation, especially in Silicon Valley, centering around the use of data and marketing technology, Mendenhall rationalizes this more humanistic approach by noting, "we are operating in an environment where brands are declining."

Axe all acronyms

Paul Gottsegen, CMO of technology services firm Mindtree, sees an opportunity in "identifying, grooming and rewarding Techie-Storytellers." Noting that "it's a bit of a lost art," Gottsegen fears that "too much marketing specialization" has prevented "story messaging from seamlessly flowing into the martech stack." As a start, he suggests "not allowing anyone in the company to speak in acronyms" and using "actual human language to communicate."

Back to basics

Diana O'Brien, Global CMO for Deloitte, frets about the "distraction of technology" and suggests that 2019 will be a good year for "getting back to the basics of marketing," which means putting "the customer at the center of your organization." Expanding on this, O'Brien offers four M's (mindset, moments, moves and meaning) that in combination will lead to world-class experiences, an end-result that is anything but basic.

Market the marketing

Kevin Doohan, CMO at technology solutions provider Xperi, believes success next year starts with "becoming better partners for our internal teammates," which means "objectively measuring our success and making wins more broadly known inside the company." By "marketing the marketing," Doonan expects strong internal support for existing initiatives and recently announced partnership programs.

Dive into data

Leela Srinivasan, CMO of SurveyMonkey, believes that "in 2019, B2B marketers will be laser-focused on finding a way to cut through the massive troves of data available and identify the insights that matter most." To do this, she recommends "leveraging the voices and opinions of people who matter most to their business to better understand the context behind the data."

Recognize what's revenue

Scott Olrich, CMO of Docusign, whose offerings include electronic signature services, recommends that his fellow CMOs follow the money and "get closer to the revenue." Recognizing the evolution of marketing from "building the brand" to "delivering growth and sales," Olrich believes that 'buyer intent' technology will make it easier for marketers "to invest the right amount of money in the right programs and processes to convert and nurture" all of this in real-time.

Quantify the quality

Aaron Clifford, CMO of Binary Fountain, a reputation management platform, advocates a joint effort by "sales, customer [service] and marketing to practice clean 'data hygiene' in the systems." This effort will enable "appropriately quantifying what a bad lead costs, thereby quantifying what a qualified lead cost," explains Clifford, thus allowing more efficient budget allocation.

Computerize your creativity

Erika Hill, VP of Marketing at Trellance, which consults with credit unions, believes the time has come for B2B marketers to apply technology for "more efficient analysis of the buyer." Taking it one step further, Hill adds, "I see AI and machine learning as a way to leverage your creative juices to truly pinpoint what your buyer's needs, wants and expectations are in an innovative, empowering way."

Accelerate via AI

Eric-Jan Schmidt, CMO at Stratus, which markets products to reduce data center down time, shares Hill's optimism about artificial intelligence and believes that it can't come soon enough "given the velocity, complexity and volume of omni-channel marketing tools." Specifically, Schmidt hopes "that AI will provide more actionable insights into how to optimize marketing efforts" and allow marketers to make a "more sustainable contribution to revenue."