The Thought Leader's Voice Podcast

The Evolving CMO: Driving Purpose and Growth in an Uncertain World

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As part of our Thought Leader’s Voice podcast series, we are excited to be in conversation with Jennifer Smith on the evolution of the CMO, and how today’s marketers can drive purpose and growth in an uncertain world.

Our podcast series, The Thought Leader’s Voice, explores how independent thought leaders bring their ideas to scale within the business world as they share powerful, thought-provoking insights with our audience. We amplify the voices of senior-level marketers and business leaders, who share their thoughts on solving some of today’s most pressing business challenges, as well as on identifying new opportunities.

We are thrilled to be joined in this episode by Jennifer Smith, Chief Marketing Officer and Fractional CMO practice lead at MarketingProfs.

With over 20 years of experience helping B2B marketing teams prove their value to businesses, Jennifer has worked within the financial services, insurance, manufacturing, technology, consulting, and healthcare industries.

Jennifer is a strong advocate for the power and value of Marketing, particularly in demonstrating its impact on business growth, as well as its relevance across the organization. She wears many hats: senior marketer, creative director, digital strategist, writer, designer, developer and editor.

Throughout her career, she has led on creative strategy and execution, brand building, digital strategy, demand generation, events, product marketing, and PR at B2B companies and agencies, large and small.

With her unique combination of knowledge and experience, she solves large, complex challenges for organizations, utilizing her wide skillset to build and implement effective strategies and campaigns.

Key Takeaways

  • Amidst uncertainty brought on by a global pandemic and the rising importance of online channels in B2B, there has been a shift in focus on approaching marketing communications with empathy and emotion. Do B2B marketers need to pivot their strategy in line with this transition? How can they ensure a better customer experience in the long run?
  • Due to the speed and ease of exchanging information at our disposal today, due diligence has taken a backseat, leading to a spiral of inaccurate content. This poses a problem for businesses worldwide. What role does thought leadership play in this? In a world crowded with content, how can you make sure that someone engages with yours?
  • Agility has become the new mantra for B2B marketers, partly down to digital transformation. How can B2B marketers contribute to business growth while remaining true to purpose? What is the best way to deploy agility in your marketing to achieve business goals?
  • The pandemic has led to the speedy implementation of new marketing and data technologies to help marketers understand and engage more effectively with audiences, and deliver on business objectives. What is the role of leaders in enabling this transition, and in implementing the right technologies at the right time?
  • Data privacy is bringing about a gradual goodbye to third-party cookies and stricter laws, creating new obstacles to marketers’ digital advertising efforts. What strategies and capabilities can businesses look to adopt now to future-proof brands?
  • What are the key challenges that CMOs face today, and what are the top opportunities?
  • Marketers are more stressed than ever before, and are joining the ‘Great Resignation’. What can leaders do about this? How can they retain talent and foster team success?

Full Transcript of Podcast with Jennifer Smith

Shabnam Gangar: Hi and welcome to The Thought Leader’s Voice. I’m Shabnam Gangar, Assistant Vice President in marketing at iResearch Services. And your host today. Today we’re discussing ‘The Evolving CMO: Driving purpose and growth in an uncertain world’. We’re super excited to welcome Chief Marketing Officer and fractional CMO practice lead at MarketingProfs, Jennifer Smith as our guest speaker. Jennifer Smith has spent over 20 years helping B2B marketing teams prove their value to businesses in the financial services, insurance, manufacturing, technology, consulting, and healthcare industries. Jennifer is a strong advocate for the power and value of marketing, demonstrating its impact on business growth and relevance across the organization.

She wears many hats: senior marketeer, creative director, digital strategist, writer, developer, designer, editor, and many more. Throughout her career, she has led creative strategy and execution, brand-building, digital strategy, demand generation, events, product marketing, and PR at B2B companies and agencies, both large and small.

With her unique combination of knowledge and experience, she solves large, complex challenges for organizations and has the multiple necessary skills to build and implement the strategies and campaigns she creates. A very warm welcome to you today, Jennifer, for joining us, a pivotal time for anyone in marketing – new year, new focus, new budgets.

Jennifer Smith: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely. It is going to be a wild year for sure, that we can say for certain.

Shabnam Gangar: Yes, I’m really excited about this episode. So if we could jump straight into the first question, that would be great. The increasing importance and availability of online channels in B2B have bridged the gap between B2B and B2C marketing, with a shift in focus on approaching human interactions, communication and campaigns with empathy and emotion. Do B2B marketers need to pivot their strategy in line with this change to generate results? And what practices can they adopt now for a better customer experience in the long run?

Jennifer Smith: I mean, the first thing I want to say, I think is that digital is just a channel, right? And it’s a great channel and it is made it so much easier and harder for us to communicate with our customers and prospects. But if we’re thinking digital first, they think we’re thinking all wrong. We have so many tools to help us be better. And sometimes we use those tools first rather than creating strategy first. So, there’s so many marketers and businesses that I’ve consulted with, that they’re living in digital activation and they’re doing all the tactics without the strategy, the stories and the experiences that can lift their efforts.

So, I’m going to sound like I’m yelling at clouds, but as you said, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. And the first gig I had was at SunGard, which is now FIS and we had websites so it’s not that old, but it was right around when websites were sort of starting to be a B2B thing. And because we didn’t have sort of all of those digital crutches, we spent a lot of time on strategy. We spent a lot of time getting to know our customers and we spent a lot of time on creative and stories. And I think that that’s one thing that’s really missing. And that’s what we’re seeing when you talk about the need for the B2B shift to B2C is actually a slide backwards to what we kind of used to do, right. And then overlaying all these awesome modern channels on top of it. So what I think we can really do is know our customers and segments, like we should always be wearing our customer hats and not, not demographics like titles and company size, but really understand their problem and their pain.

If you don’t know them, sit in on sales calls, ask the sales team to record their calls. Most sales teams are recording their calls. They have technology to do that so that their managers can coach them on their calls. So ask for those recordings. Sitting on internal sales meetings and ask questions, talk to customer service and account management and ask them what’s going on.

I feel like so many marketing teams are in a bubble just trying to create, create, create and execute, and we really need to get to know our customers. That is the first step to using digital to create this experience. And then we have to know our business goals and align our marketing goals to them and make sure our whole team knows them. So I’m a huge proponent of committing to actual bookings numbers, not just pipeline numbers. In fact, I’m responsible for 50% of the bookings this year at MarketingProfs.

So while that’s scary, it allows us to do the things that customer experience requires, because if you can commit to something like revenue, you get the chance to do things like branding which are less measurable because nobody’s nitpicking like how did this campaign go and how did that campaign go?

And when we talked to our CFOs, they like believe us about the numbers that we’re reporting cause we’re not talking that an email influenced a deal.

We’re talking about real trackable marketing impact. So once we have those two things, we start implementing strategy and then we activate, and then we look at the digital channels that are going to help us succeed. So that would be my advice to how we go about thinking about customer experience. And it all starts obviously with the customer.

Shabnam Gangar: Absolutely. And I think great point. A lot of the time, a lot of marketing companies, agencies, departments, they’ve got such pressure on them to deliver, and there’s so much available at our fingertips, but that integration and that cog with sales is so important. So it’s a real good point that you make and really bridging that gap between B2B and B2C and having that human emotion. Thanks for that.

Due to the speed and ease of exchanging information at our disposal today, due diligence has taken a backseat. 94% of business leaders think that misinformation poses a problem to business and society at large, according to a recent survey by iResearch Services. How can companies access accurate and reliable information? And what is the role of thought leadership in this?

Jennifer Smith: Oh, my gosh, it is such a problem. There is so much clutter out there and there is so much bad content out there, right? I mean, it’s just not great. So thought leadership is really, really important for most B2B businesses. Not all. So I would say the first thing to do is I love like flow charts in my head.

Going back to what I just talked about. So the first thing I would ask is, should we be doing Thought Leadership? Do our customers care about this? Will they read it? Do we have a unique point of view, all of those things. And then if the answers to those flowcharts are yes, then you absolutely should be doing it, if it’s going to be impactful for your brand. I think one of the problems that I see is a lot of people do thought leadership. Well, there’s two questions to ask. The first one is, do we have a brand that people will pay attention to our thought leadership, right? Because thought leadership takes a significant amount of time and effort to do it properly.So talking about the things that are immeasurable, that businesses don’t like, branding is one of them. But if you think about all the clutter that’s out there, one of the ways you get someone to click on yours versus somebody else’s is if you do have a really trusted brand. So I would spot check yourself and say, do I have a trusted brand that people will pay attention to my thought leadership? Because it is a hugely significant investment. Or, do I think thought leadership is going to be the thing to build our brand, which also can happen. But what I see a lot of times is businesses semi committing to thought leadership, and that’s where they fall down. So if you’re going to commit to thought leadership, go all in. Make sure you have people in the company who are willing to speak at events, who are willing to write articles, who are willing to write papers, who are willing to do all of these things. I’ve been really lucky where I’ve worked at various places. Like I worked at a company called Corporate Visions. A lot of people know Tim Riester in the sales space. He loves to get up and talk. He’s written a number of books. He loves to do this kind of stuff. So what I would say is, if you are going to do that, either as an exercise to create trust for your brand, or you have a brand that you think people will listen to, like Gartner. Just make sure you’re really committed to it because it is a heavy, heavy effort, but it can have a huge impact on your ability to close deals faster, to get more inbound leads, to make your sales team do less outbound work.

Shabnam Gangar: That’s a really good point. I think with the fact of working with reliable, credible, reputable people in the market space adds a lot of value. And I think also just sense-checking work is always a good, good thing to do, especially because there’s so much content out there. So yeah, that, that’s really an interesting point that you just made. Just moving onto the next one.

Agility has become the new mantra for B2B marketers in part down to digital transformation, which has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, how can B2B marketers demonstrate value to the business and contribute to growth while remaining true to purpose?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. So this, this topic is actually super near and dear to my heart. And I could talk about this for probably an hour. I’ve written an article about it. It’s on the MarketingProfs website. Not to totally plug myself, but if somebody wants to hear more about this, but for the purposes of the podcast, I’ll try to be a little shorter about this. So, a team that can turn on a dime is really critical to an organization’s success, right? A marketing team that can turn on a dime. But there’s kind of two types of agile marketing.

So, one is really strategic and one is really reactive and you do not absolutely want to be doing the really sort of reacting-to-everything-marketing. That’s horrible for a marketing department. That’s why you get people leaving, that’s why you get executives that don’t trust the marketing team, all of those kinds of bad things. So good agile is really good. Bad agile is really bad. So again, you need like a mental framework. So, you need to stay grounded in the reality of what your customers want and what your business goals are, right. And all of the things for the business that are really, really important for you guys to do, whether it’s revenue or whether it’s cross-sell or upsell or retention, whether it’s deeper into existing accounts, whatever those things are, stay really grounded in that. And then ask yourself again, who your customer is and who you’re talking to.

And what do they like to hear, read, see those kinds of things. And why is it important for us to be agile right now? What would take us away from our long term strategy and goals? Is this really important? And if we do react, do we think it’s going to be effective? And what impact do we think it’s going to have and how risky is this for our business? And what’s our tolerance for risk. I actually have a really good example about this. I had a client who was an IT company when I was out consulting and they were trying to build customers in the hospital and healthcare space. And so they were like an IT hosting provider. And at the time, not that it’s not still a problem, but ransomware was all over the news.

So, here’s a great example of a way a business-to-business company can sort of think about being agile. So, ransomware was all over the news and they wanted to constantly be on top of him reacting to these stories. But we also had these really long-term goals for this company that were really important marketing initiatives that needed to get done.

And, you know, you only have so much time, so much budget, all of those things. So again, we kind of played out this mental framework. And we said, okay, is this important? Yes, of course. Do you guys have something different and meaningful to say? And they actually did. And it was actually one of the key components of their product that they had is the way they handled it.

If there was a ransomware attack, it became like just a minor inconvenience instead of a huge failure. So we basically created a plan of how we react to things and how we were going to be agile while staying true to our strategies that we knew we needed to hit on to hit the business goals. And actually what ended up happening is they got bought by a larger IT provider who was interested in buying them specifically because of their healthcare clients.

So, agility is really important, but it still needs to be grounded in strategy or else it’s just reaction. And that’s really, really bad.

Shabnam Gangar: I think also the point with pivoting and also talking about real circumstances that can happen. I think at times with marketing or you presenting certain types of material on different platforms, people don’t want to actually talk about those pain points or issues that are relatable to that end consumer.

So I feel that’s a real good point that you’ve just picked out. That’s it’s the speed of working to what’s happening around us and evolving even more so, and remaining true to purpose and brand identity is really key for any business and especially any sort of marketing, branding agency, and company. So great, great point. Thank you.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, it’s just absolutely know your customers, customer-first strategy second, activation third, whether you’re being quick about those decisions or going to a long-term plan.

Shabnam Gangar: Yes. Thank you. The pandemic has led to the speedy implementation of new marketing and data technology to better understand and engage with audiences, provide foundations for business strategies and deliver on business objectives. What is the role of leaders in enabling this transition and implementing the right technologies at the right time? There’s also an adoption and embedding of technologies such as AI. And how can balance be struck with human connection from a marketing perspective? I mean, we talked a little bit about bots and a lot of people talk about bots. But bots may be helping in driving efficiency, but misses out on that human emotion and interaction. Could you just further explain a little bit more about that?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. I mean, I’m going to sound like a broken record, but customer first, strategy second, activation third, I mean, it really is that simple, right. Technology is a great enabler. It is amazing. I love chatbots. Not everybody does, but if you’re trying to talk to your phone company, chat bots are amazing compared to sitting on hold with the customer service. So there’s a time and a place for everything. And I just think we’ve gotten so crazy about our choices. In technology, we often think that technology is going to fix a strategy problem and it never can. And it never does. If you have a bad customer journey nurture, marketing automation is not going to fix that. It is a wonderful overlay so that you don’t have to send individual things, and that you can talk to the masses and that you can track how emails are doing and get better about how you’re communicating, but all of these things cannot fix strategy problems.

So I think that technology is remarkable and it can lead to better experiences. Like I said, instead of sitting on hold and pressing seven, not all of them are horrible things we have to go through. You can now just go to a chatbot. The example about your customer, just anticipating your customer and interlaying technology in where it would be useful to them is really the way you can do that.

I know there’s a lot of hype right now about content written by AI. And I think there’s some really interesting applications of that too. I’m not against it. It’s not like, no, you can never use AI to write something, but I do think there’s a time and a place for everything. And again, like, just think about when it would be, stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about your customer and you’ll be fine.

Shabnam Gangar: Yes. So what processes can marketers deploy to bring about this transition in the most efficient and purposeful way? You said that you’re quite a fan of the chat bot. And a lot of people, I guess, in the industry are a bit hesitant. So what sort of things can we bring to, to help transition that if anyone was interested in implementing it?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, I think it depends on the business obviously, but I do think, you always need kind of a business case for something, even if it’s not, even if it’s not a huge like, long, drawn out thing, you need a business case for why you’re going to spend money on something. So sometimes it may be efficiency, although efficiency isn’t my favorite reason for something. It has its purpose. It stresses your teams out last. It allows people to communicate with you when people aren’t around. So just think of a business case for it. I’m also a huge fan of going back to agility, doing small tasks before you do anything big. So maybe just, if you, if you see something that you think is really cool or you want to try, find a way to test it, find a way, you know, marketers are huge fans of AB tests.

This is just another example of testing it. So think of the customer. Think of the business case that you want to use it on, the use case that would make the most sense. Test it out before you go rolling out. Something huge and behemoth is impossible to change, right? And only when you have that data, that’s when you go full force into it.

So there’s, there’s a million, I mean, even marketing automation, it’s not sexy, but it really is a technology that’s kind of cool, right? Like we don’t think it’s cool anymore cause it’s been around for a while, but if used appropriately, it can be really awesome for a business. I mean, I’d also ask yourself, is there something we already have that could serve that purpose before you go buying new stuff?

Because overlaying tech stacks are a nightmare, right? Like we’re in that case now where people are just overlaying tech over tech, over tech, over tech, and you don’t even know where anything is and data is all over the place.

Shabnam Gangar: This is such a key point. I think so many people invest and already have something existing that could potentially work.

So definitely just evaluate and I love the idea of just trialing it before you sort of really deep dive into just purchasing something that you think would work, but may not actually work.

Jennifer Smith: Ohh my gosh, How many time have you bought something cool that you think is going to be a game changer and then nobody uses it. Right?

Shabnam Gangar: Exactly. It’s like a little toy or a big toy. The same concept is for, for any tech or if we’re purchasing a tool of some sort that there’s so many fun ways to do things. And especially as a marketeer in the industry and working with numerous stakeholders, people will always say, this is great. This is great. But more than likely, businesses already have great tools.

It’s just, how do you accelerate using them even more so in that purposeful way. So it’s very interesting that you make that point. Moving on to the next one.

Today’s marketing leaders have to collaborate and work with various stakeholders to drive and achieve business goals and objectives. This means they play a central role in taking entire organizations forward. Has this elevated the role of marketing chiefs? How do they interact differently with the rest of the C-suite and other areas of the business?

Jennifer Smith: I think it has to, right. I mean, marketing is the voice of the customer. Marketing has to be the voice of the customer.

So to my point earlier about growing the business and overall, you know, marketing needs to know the customer and marketing to do that, needs to interact with product. We need to be the voice of the customer. We need to interact with sales. We need to be the voice of the customer. We need to make sure we’re giving them the things that are most valuable and important to them.

So you do see CMOs getting elevated, having voices at executive tables. You also see CMOs have the shortest tenure of any C-suite executive member, right? So there’s still some problems. So I think there’s a real opportunity. And I do think it revolves around, you know, that commitment to the business of like real revenue, like real measurable, important things to the business.

But if we can get there, I mean, we can be one of the loudest voices in the executive suite, but if not, we just end up running into the same problems, which are CMOs turnover and marketing team turnover, all those kinds of problems, but now’s a great time for marketing.

Shabnam Gangar: It really is. I think there was some articles that I read where a lot more investment is going in, as they are seeing the benefits come through.

And I think a lot of that shift is down to the different stakeholders, different departments and that integration and a great point. It’s about knowing your audience, knowing your customer and what they require and going back to the previous point about tools and packages and automation. There’s so much available at our hands, it’s how do we bring that all together and, and kind of interact and shift and move forward. So, fantastic point that you made there

Jennifer Smith: Maybe we should stop calling us marketers and start calling us Chief Customer Officers or something cause really, that’s what we’re doing, right? We’re the voice of the customer.

Shabnam Gangar: It is, it’s true. We, everything that we do, we have to think of that customer. If I’m that customer, if I land on a website, or if I’m looking at a business, I need to understand what am I getting from this, and really take yourself out of the head of that marketing person. So I do think it probably will transition in what you’re saying.

Data privacy is bringing about a gradual goodbye to third party cookies and stricter laws, creating new obstacles for marketers, digital advertising and demand generation efforts. What does this mean for the future of marketing? As customers are likely to continue to demand privacy and control over their data. What are the strategies and capabilities that businesses can look to adopt now to deal with this change in the future?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, I think I wrote an article about this too. So, so we’ve been cheating for a long time, a long time. We’ve been using these data sheets for a long time, and they’re not really great cheats because if you go back to what our purpose is, which is providing things for the customer that will help them find us, trust us, make it easy to do business with us, recommend us to other people, right? That’s the core of marketing. We’ve been relying on sort of these cookies and things, which people don’t really like. So we’ve been at odds with sort of our core mission for a long time. And I think what it’s requiring us to do is go back to basics, go back to like your question about thought leadership and all of this sort of bad content that’s out there, that the data is unreliable. We have to go back to being trusted. Right? We have to start doing things that build communities, build followings, build rabid fans, as I think was a tagline for an IT company. Or may still be at one point. We have to, we basically are going to have to get away from our data shortcuts that we’ve been relying on.

And kind of do it the old fashioned way with new technology to help us, right? So we’ve just got to produce really good stuff. We’ve got to build our brand and make it reliable. Branding is I know I keep harping on branding and I’m a huge proponent of demand generation. I mean, I love demand generation and I love working with the sales team.

But when you think about rolling into some of the other conversations we have, what B2C does really well, it’s a component that they don’t forget that B2B often does. And they understand the importance of it, even though you can’t specifically measure it. So the things we can do to pull ourselves back are the things that we should have been doing all the time, which is building communities, creating content that’s good enough that people are happy to give us their name to subscribe to our newsletter, getting out there and speaking, all of these things are really important. It’s time to build that trust instead of just hammering people until they respond.

Shabnam Gangar: Yeah, I think trust is so key. I think, with anything that you do in life and having that backing, supporting materials, how your website is, how your spokespeople are, how you present content, is it reliable?

Is it a trusted resource? I think that that’s a really valuable point and really pivotal for any marketeer in the industry. We sort of think about the customer, but it’s also, how are we presenting ourselves and that outlook that people see with the work that we’re presenting. And I totally agree with that.

And moving on to the next question we’ve got, what are the top three challenges that CMOs face today? How do you think that they can be managed, and where are the top three opportunities?

Jennifer Smith: So, gosh, there’s so many challenges.

So top three, I think the first one really is what I’ve kind of been harping on all along. And this is really important. I think going forward, we talked about trust. We talked about that we can’t rely on data. We talked about all the clutter out there. I mean, these are all not groundbreaking things, that sort of mental flowchart I do in my head is so important because it keeps us hyper-focused. We are the junk drawer of businesses. If somebody doesn’t know where to put it, they put it in marketing and then we have to figure it out and react to it. And we all get crazy.

So, I think hyper- focus is a real challenge for marketers and marketing teams. And I don’t think that’s going away, the whole keeping up with the Joneses, your CEO goes to an event and he says, ‘Hey, I just heard about this great thing. Why aren’t we doing that?’ you know.

Shabnam Gangar: Yeah, I do think, I totally agree with, uh, if it doesn’t fit in a different department, marketing can deal with it. Yeah, pass it to them. They can figure everything out. So I do think that that focus. I’ve worked in numerous different places myself and I have to say, I’ve been victim to that, in the politest way to put it. It doesn’t fit under our remit, but we’ll do it anyways. We like a challenge. Why not?

Jennifer Smith: So I think that’s going to be a challenge for companies. Retention obviously is a huge challenge right now, keeping teams happy and retention. And then I think, especially in larger organizations, that thing I talked about, which is figuring out a way to make sure that it is an executive and sales priority to report properly on where bookings are coming from, getting that meaningful data.

I think those are to me, three big challenges that I’m seeing, because that’s really that sales and marketing alignment piece. It’s like a huge challenge for people. And I know AI kind of filters in it to it too, if you want like a fourth little one. But to me it’s really like not being the junk drawer, team retention and that sales and marketing alignment piece.

Shabnam Gangar: Yeah. And where do you feel are the sort of top three opportunities? Would you also say sort of the challenges would also be the opportunities or do you see, do you see a different shift with this new year and new processes and new budgets that everyone is considering?

Jennifer Smith: No, I mean, I really do think it is making a difference for our customers by being their voice within organizations. And that that’s the way we elevate ourselves, right. It’s making a difference for the businesses that we work for by showing real meaningful impact. So sorting that out and then probably making a difference for our teams by giving them that clarity and focus.

Those are the three opportunities. Nobody likes working in a place that feels like chaos. Right? So, for CMOs particularly, creating some sense of Zen right now could be singularly important for keeping our best performers.

Shabnam Gangar: Absolutely. And especially I think with the shift of how businesses are now working from home, or if that virtual sort of life, and we are transitioning into some sort of normal in certain countries, that’s also really important as you said about retention.

I think that’s, that’s definitely key. And a lot of people will be looking and thinking about how they can implement that into a plan to some degree.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. And it’s funny. I know another big one is obviously still remote working. It’s funny you said that. Cause I tend not to think about it cause I worked from home for 10 years.

So, you know, while the pandemic and everything going on created other situations for me like that, wasn’t when I didn’t have to adjust to that, you know, MarketingProfs didn’t have to adjust to that because we’ve always been remote. So it’s just not one that pops into my head. But certainly I know that it’s a challenge for many.

Shabnam Gangar: Yeah, absolutely. And just moving on to the last question, Marketing professionals are gradually joining the workforce exodus or the ‘Great Resignation’. Marketing has always been a demanding role, but the pandemic has only accelerated this leading to marketeers being more stressed than ever before.

What can we as leaders do about this? How can we retain our best and brightest and create unicorns ourselves?

Jennifer Smith: Okay. Last year MarketingProfs had wanted to do some research on this and we haven’t released it yet. So you guys are hearing this first, we’re releasing it in mid-February, but the findings were just insane.

They were insane. So I want to share this with everyone because it blew my mind. So, we did a survey of B2B marketers. I think it was around 700 who responded. It was a fairly deep survey and it was global. The goal of the report was to talk about the state of B2B training. But here’s some things that we found that I think hopefully will blow your best minds too.So, only 19% of B2B marketers feel very prepared for their future in marketing. That’s really sad. 19%. Only 22% of managers felt very prepared. So managers were a little better, but not much so, less than a quarter feel like they can handle the future. Only 31% of marketers felt like their team was very effective at their roles.

Shabnam Gangar: Oh, gosh. And when was this survey conducted?

Jennifer Smith: Last November. So just recently, we just finished the survey. So a quarter of B2B marketers don’t think everyone on their team has a basic understanding of marketing.

Jennifer Smith: Last November. So just recently, we just finished the survey. So a quarter of B2B marketers don’t think everyone on their team has a basic understanding of marketing.

Shabnam Gangar: I think it’s also down to, because of all the shifts that have been happening. So that is quite shocking.

But at the same time, I don’t feel as surprised. Being in marketing and seeing the shifts, but actually having a bigger put down towards that is a big, big shock. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith: So, and then the last one was, two-thirds, so this one should not surprise CMOs, but it is alarming. And that was that two-thirds of the survey respondents were either actively searching or open to new job opportunities.

So we see CMOs have a huge problem right now with our teams. They are stressed out and not happy. Everybody knows that. Oh, and one-third of marketers reported they didn’t have documented business goals. I thought that one was fun too, but the one thing the data showed and I have my own thoughts on this, but I love data.

And I thought this was just so interesting that 19% of marketers that felt very prepared for their future had huge statistically significant differences of what their organizations did to make them feel prepared. So that’s kind of what I wanted to share here, because this is actually a formula that you could use, whatever pieces of it that you think are important or that you could implement to keep your teams and to help your teams grow.

So. The very prepared marketers, A had documented business goals. They were part of an organization where ongoing learning was part of the company culture and the learning wasn’t ad hoc like it is in most marketing organizations where you have to request and justify training. The CMOs were actually looking at the business goals and strategically creating training to help the marketers do the jobs that they needed to do, right? So they aligned the learning to the business strategy and they took training that was focused on execution instead of theory. So what we found and the things that the report is basically going to say is, first document your business goals for your team, let them know what they are.

It’s the most important thing you can do. I’m a huge proponent. I knew we talked about marketing being the junk drawer of we’re constantly learning new things, we’re reacting to everything, we need to help our customers. As a CMO, you have the opportunity to make ongoing learning a part of your culture. And I really think setting learning goals for your team is really important.

Letting them, even if you don’t have the budget to do a formal training program, pick a book, have everybody read the same book and then talk about it. Attend a webinar together. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but just help guide your team based on the things you’re asking them to do. Instead of basically just saying, Hey, you should be reading this!

Shabnam Gangar: Yeah, it’s so important. I totally agree. And it’s something that I’ve actually integrated with my own team, as I feel like there’s so much happening and you have to kind of take a step back and really evaluate and have time for yourself and actually develop and understand all those changes. So it’s such a great point that you made that even if your stretched with budgets and you don’t have that training, it is really aligned to business goals, the sort of vision, mission, values, but also those values with the core people that you work with on a day-to-day basis. And even a simple book to there’s some fantastic webinars out there, even podcasts as we’re doing right now, you know, I think there’s so much that people can really take learnings from, and really integrate that into their roles and into their day-to-day. And that statistic that you gave with how that link is and why they felt like they’ve got a clear outlook on their roles or what their responsibilities are, is really, really insightful and very interesting to hear that. I’d love to read a bit more about that survey, quite looking forward to that.

Jennifer Smith: And by the way, the very prepared marketer was less likely to leave their job. So that’s kind of why I was bringing that up because those, those statistics, those things, they make a difference. And I feel like another thing we can do is see CMOs go fight for that education for our teams. Think of how much money companies spend on sales training. And they’re expecting marketing and sales to be in line.

They’re expecting marketing to be part of this whole go-to-market engine that we’re talking about, where it’s all aligned, and we’re all part of the queue, we’re being asked like I said, for pipeline numbers and revenue numbers, you know, I have bookings numbers. Well, how can you do that in a discipline that changes so fast and so frequently if you don’t know your customer, if you don’t have really strong business goals, and if you aren’t aligning your team’s skills to. Sorry, I feel really strongly about this, to what you’re asking them to do.

Shabnam Gangar: I totally understand. It’s really, really key.

Jennifer Smith: But I really feel strongly about that. So that, to me, that’s how you keep your team. You go in and fight for them at the executive level, but you commit to the executive level that you’re going to bring something back to them.

Shabnam Gangar: Exactly. It sort of should be a win-win and it is about investing in your people and investing in that future.

And I think that’s sort of where some businesses do it fantastic. And some businesses feel like, we need to make the time for it. And the time is now, otherwise that ship will just sail, unfortunately, but I do, I do agree. And I’m very passionate about this as well. And I really understand the point that you’ve just made with.

We’ve really got to work, you know, have this expectation working with sales, to actually work with them and the investment with Sales is the same with marketing. It’s that alignment. And there’s also other ways to do it. It’s just internal. You can also just have internal training. I make time for that too, and get a better understanding of where everybody is and how that alignment works for the longer vision, but yeah. To retain the best and the brightest, that’s such a great point that you’ve raised.

Jennifer Smith: And to create the best and the brightest, right. Unicorns aren’t found, they’re made. So you can be creating unicorns, right. Instead of just always looking for them.

I mean, even like you, to your point, you just start a mentorship program. If you have a unicorn on your team, maybe a junior can shadow that, right? It doesn’t have to cost any money. Like I said, read a book together, you know, it’s like just make that commitment to your team.

Shabnam Gangar: Absolutely. No, I love that point.

Brilliant. I really, really appreciate everything that you’ve been saying today on this episode. And it’s definitely a lot of food for thought for our listeners today. So thank you, Jennifer. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention while we have you here with us?

Jennifer Smith: No, I think that’s it. Just thank you guys so much for having me. It was a blast, so really appreciate it. And I hope everybody got at least one little nugget out of it.

Shabnam Gangar: I’m pretty sure they have. There’s definitely a lot of food for thought and plenty of nuggets. Thank you so much. And it’s been a pleasure speaking to you, Jennifer.

Jennifer Smith: Thank You.

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