The folks at Plannuh, specifically Peter Mahoney, Scott Todaro, and Dan Faulkner, asked me to write the foreword for their new book, The Next CMO: A Guide to Marketing Operational Excellence. (Free download here.)
Here’s what I wrote for them.
CMO is a hard job. Early in my career I worked for CMOs, in sort of an endless revolving-door progression, at one point having 7 bosses in 5 years. I have been a CMO, for over 12 years at three different companies. I have managed CMOs, working as CEO for over a decade at two different companies. And I have guided CMOs, serving as an independent director on the board of five different companies. Let’s just say I’ve spent a lot of time in and around the CMO role.
In the past two decades, no executive suite role has changed more and more quickly than the CMO. Marketers of yesteryear could focus on strategic positioning and branding, leaving such banalities as lead generation to sales-aligned field marketing teams, managing scraps of paper in cardboard boxes.
Sales and marketing automation systems changed everything. Concepts like pipeline, conversion rates, and velocity were born. From lead generation sprung lead nurturing. Attribution emerged to solve one of the world’s oldest marketing problems.
Artificial intelligence (AI) arrived at the scene, helping with areas like lead scoring and prioritization. The demand for analytics followed suit. Marketing ops arose as the cousin of sales ops.
Digital marketing changed everything again. Spend became even more accountable. Pay-per-click replaced pay-per-view which replaced just-pay. Targeting became more precise both via search and the rise of social media. Content marketing emerged to supplement declining traditional public relations. If yesterday’s marketing was leaflets dropped from airplanes, today’s is A/B-tested, laser-guided, call-to-action missiles.
Technology came at CMOs faster than they could keep up. Software could power your website, run your resource center, generate your landing pages, test your messaging, drive repeatable SDR processes, identify your ideal customer, drive account-based marketing, and even record and analyze prospect conversations.
What’s more, as CEOs and boards knew that entirely new classes of questions were becoming answerable, they started asking them.
- What percent of the pipeline are prospects within our ideal customer profile?
- What’s the stage-weighted expected value of the pipeline?
- What’s our week 3 pipeline conversion rate for new logo vs upsell opportunities?
- What’s our cost per opportunity and how does it vary by channel and geography?
- What’s marketing’s contribution to our customer acquisition cost (CAC) ratio and how are we improving it?
And dozens and dozens more.
The hardest job in the C-suite got harder. Today’s CMOs need to be visionary strategists by day and operational tacticians by night. Operational marketing has become the sine qua non of modern marketing. If the website is optimized, if the demand generation machine is running effectively, if marketing events are executed flawlessly, if quality pipeline is being generated efficiently, if that pipeline is converting in line with industry benchmarks, and if and only if all that is being done within the constraints of the marketing budget — spending neither too little nor too much — then and only then does the CMO get the chance to be “strategic.”
Operational excellence is thus a necessary but not sufficient condition for CMO success. So it’s well worth mastering and this book is the ideal guide to building and managing your own integrated marketing machine.
There’s no one better to write this book than the leadership team at Plannuh, Peter, Scott, and Dan. With their experience running marketing teams from startups through multi-billion dollar public companies, teaching and mentoring generations of marketers, and now building a platform that codifies their thinking into a scalable SaaS platform, this guide is certain to raise the IQ of your marketing function.
– Dave Kellogg