Tips For Marketing Success From an Experienced Tech CMO

3 min read
Sep 8, 2015 4:20:00 PM

Jim Melvin, CMO at SevOne, an infrastructure performance monitoring company, and former CEO of AppNeta and Mazu Networks, has unique perspective from both the CMO and CEO vantage points. Here, we’ll share his tips for marketing success in the tech industry so that you can implement them in your own tech marketing (take it from the expert!). Read on for key insights from Melvin.
The Biggest Challenge Facing Today’s CMO:
Melvin: The CMO role is the best position in the company. If you’re looking for a vibrant, dynamic and important role, it has it all. However, with increased expectations come significant challenges, which fall into four different areas:

1. Data-Driven Insight to the Business - CMOs need to bring a greater level of data-driven insight into understanding the dynamics of business performance, including both tactical insight, such as which sales leads are better, and strategic insight, such as which markets you should target. Data is truly transforming marketing from an art into a science. While being adept at using sophisticated analytical tools is difficult enough, the challenge is magnified because data are rarely consolidated and organized, making analysis more complicated. Yet, CMOs must drive this transition.

2. Define Strategic Direction - Many CMOs also take on the role of leading development of the company’s strategic vision. This is a very complex role in that it demands understanding of the markets, technologies, core existing competencies, competition, and consumers. Although complex, CMOs are most likely to be at the intersection of all of these areas and should have the analytical and strategic skills to help set the strategic direction.

3. Partner with Sales - The role of a marketer boils down to, well, marketing. And the core role of marketing is to accelerate sales. This often requires an “old school” approach to partnering with sales leadership, and directly enabling sales productivity. Within the technology industry, the sales organization has historically played a dominant role. However, the data and technology available to marketers has shifted the power so that the relationship can be more balanced.

4. Drive Internal Alignment - This is accomplished via communications and partnership with the CEO/executive leadership team. The CMO role still requires a certain element of being the “voice of the consumer” for the company and strategy and helps connect the external market with the internal operations.

The Biggest Mistake CMOs Today are Making: 
Melvin: In my experience, there are two big mistakes that a CMO can make. The first would be to assume that their role is simplistic in nature and centered on perhaps only one of the above four elements. By only focusing on one area, they aren’t creating the impact and value that the CEO expects. The second mistake is to fail to drive alignment with their CEO. Driving alignment is an ongoing activity, given the dynamic nature of business. So while a CMO might be aligned during the annual planning period, their job is to make sure they are still aligned at the end of the fiscal year.

How the Future of Marketing Will Be Different Than Today: 
Melvin: We’re living in a world where technology is impacting everything. As the CMO of a tech firm, I can safely say we tend to live close to the leading edge. The core of what is happening is enabling a closer relationship between the customer (or prospect) and the company. In a world of classic enterprise sales, the customer builds a relationship with the sales rep, and then the company, which enables the purchase of a product. This is all changing. Technology is changing this old adage such that the new paradigm is that customers are engaging first with the company, followed by the product, and then the sale is enabled by a person. This is a dramatic shift rippling through many different industries. From a marketing perspective, this means that marketers are moving away from helping facilitate the sales-customer relationship toward driving the firm-customer relationship. This places the marketer at the beginning of the purchase funnel, rather than the end, and, therefore, increases the potential for marketers to have impact. I believe that this shift will gather momentum, making marketers increasingly important to tech and B2B firms.

These key insights from an experienced tech CMO will help you improve your tech marketing right now and for the future. 

Want more expert insights? Check out this ultimate social media marketing guide to learn from the experts and, thus, become one!

Social Media Marketing Guide

Get Email Notifications