Well, that has been quite some time ago writing my last blog. Shows how much time the last 12 months I was internally focussed shaping all new plans, organization and new directions of the company. But here we are again. A couple of weeks ago I was running as a chairman the B2B marketing Esprix jury discussing with peers which Dutch marketing teams should be rewarded with an award. Last week I had the privilege to attend the annual B2B marketing forum CMO dinner with about 30 of my peers. At that moment I realized that staying in touch with your peers is utmost important to know what is going on within the profession, around digital transformation and in some cases, see how companies and people evolved after having giving them the ability to visit Exact and our marketing people. Some people were asking when I was going to write my next blog and even some people asked me when I would give my next on stage presence. Well, lets pick it up and start with the blog first!
At the end of the dinner, hosted by spotONvision, there was an interactive discussion about challenges we are facing as marketing professionals within our organizations. CMOs and marketing directors of VodafoneZiggo, FedEx, NCOI, ING bank, Staples, Schiphol Airport and many others we actively engaged in this discussion. It was about the digital transformation we are all going through and the requirements like skillsets, data and supporting tooling. Having those discussions I realized that more than 6 years ago when I joined Exact, we started with our digitization. I can say that we transformed and at least in the B2B marketing landscape we have one of the most sophisticated digital marketing demand engines. in the B2B marketing landscape we have one of the most sophisticated digital marketing demand enginesI dare to say this since others like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are telling us the same. E.g. last year we invested heavily in implementing the Google 360 Suite and other Google systems like DoubleClick, Optimise and Data Studio. The way we run our campaigns, recognize behavior and serve relevant messaging is quite advanced. We own this data, not an external agency. In my opinion a key requirement in order to run relevant demand generation programs.
My starting point 6 years ago was quite different than others I realized. It was my assignment, as the new marketing director, to change and that makes life much more easier. Because change starts in my opinion at the top to really make things happen. Otherwise you get stuck in the middle of the organization not being able to really execute the change. I still hear lots of internal fights that marketing professionals have to overcome and to convince their executives about the necessity to adopt and transform into digital. And it is not that simple, because what is digital about? It is a mindset, it is an attitude where you could even ask yourself if some of your team members are able to adopt such fundamental changes. It is about data and not even data driven but data infomed. Having the ability to interpret data in the right way coming to a next best action. It is about data and not even data driven but data infomed. Having the ability to interpret data in the right way coming to a next best actionI got ‘card blanche’ 6 years ago. At that moment and still, I was and am pretty much into digital although I already see differences between the 25-ish boys and girls in my team and myself (48). From the start we worked digital, invested a lot in hiring the right people and implementing the system at that moment were required. We started implementing Eloqua when it was still a autonomous company not being part of Oracle. People with Eloqua skills were rare, extremely difficult to hire. Even resources that could help us getting the system up and running, but we managed to.
One of the key reasons being able to execute at such a fast pace was the fact I had ‘card blanche’ and full trust and confidence from my peers in the management team and the board. Of course you need to deliver results but driving the business from 10 to almost 80 million in that period of time is not a bad thing. Today our sales organization is heavily dependant on the leads which are generated by marketing, even maybe a bit too much. But for sure, if something is broken in our digital marketing demand engine there is panic on the sales floor.
But for sure, if something is broken in our digital marketing demand engine there is panic on the sales floor
Many projects and optimizations led us to the organization and set-up we are currently in. Having our own Google licenses made a huge impact although I think we are just at the beginning. Off course as a marketing professional you want to be able to target as specific as you can and serve ultra relevant, engaging messages. With our platform we are very close. My dot on the horizon is that we recognize each and visitors/contacts onsite and offsite based on behavior so I can determine what kind of persona I am looking at. For offsite that means serving ultra relevant messaging, for onsite and our website it means ultra personalization. Only show that what is relevant for the visitor whether it is a prospect or a customer. Asking a question is in my opinion a weakness, with all technology and expertise have in-house we should be able to leave that question behind and instantly publish what is relevant for that specific visitor. You won’t notice as a visitor but we are running such programs already 😉
One of the things that helped us adopting digital even more fast was the way we as a marketing team were collaborating with each other. We started with a functional set-up, content creation, marketing automation, demand generation but two years ago started to adopt scrum. We are expected to generate thousands of leads each and every months through a variety of media channels. And I am not talking about general inquiries, I am talking about qualified leads. Our addressable market consist of millions of contacts since we serve entrepreneurs and small companies. The programs we run became more and more complex in all areas, content, automation and publishing. At a certain moment the marketeers were involved in so many projects that they didn’t know what they were doing it for. Also lots of ‘throw over the fence’ issues came up so change was needed. For that reason we started to adopt scrum to become more agile. The scrum teams we have today are divided into market segment teams. Each and every team is as much as self sufficient as possible. They know their goals, their objectives and key results and have the autonomy to make their own decisions and act on it towards their goals.
CMO for CEO
In the discussion we had at the B2B marketing forum I hear my colleagues having lots of challenges not only selling the need for digital transformation internally but also implementing new ways of working like scrum. It feels like the willingness to change and to innovate is there with the marketeers but unfortunately limited by the internal circumstances. This push back has many reasons and at the end doesn’t help organizations to change and make steps forward. Traditional way of developing the market, approaching the market remain which gives room to competitors who are able to change. In this group I think that ING bank is the only company that is adopting scrum all the way. It feels like the willingness to change and to innovate is there with the marketeers but unfortunately limited by the internal circumstancesAnd why? Because it starts at the top. Their CEO is the supporter and driver and with him off course all executives, senior managers and teams underneath it. So digital transformation requires more than only marketing, it is a starting point. Today it is about cross functional, the inception of a product or service can’t be done by technical people only, all professionals across the customer lifecycle should be involved. From marketing, to sales, to technology, to customer success. And who has the mandate to change such a structure: the end boss, the CEO. So marketing professionals, directors, CMOs who started their digital transformation journey and get stuck, go for president, get the mandate and become the CEO!