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How Revenue Marketing Can Save the CMO
To achieve financial results, too many marketers have been using a right-brain approach (creativity) when a left-brain approach (data and analytics) is what's called for.
Posted Sep 27, 2017
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Business-to-business chief marketing officers have one of the hardest jobs in corporate America. Not only are they responsible for the marketing basics—brand, positioning, messaging, and so on—they are now charged with being a growth engine in the company. Overwhelmingly, executive teams and boards are turning to the CMO and explicitly asking for the ROI from marketing efforts. They are tired of the pots of money they keep pouring into the marketing department. 

While the majority of CMOs feel increased pressure for financial results, less than a third actually report on any financial metrics, according to the 2017 CMO Survey. If you are a B2B CMO, I’m sure you have frequent conversations with your board and your senior executive team on this very topic. The pressure to perform is intense, as you are now accountable for a quota in many cases. And while you may not yet have direct accountability in other areas, rest assured—it’s coming! 

Where is all the pressure originating? Much of it results from the plethora of new marketing technologies (currently more than 5,000), especially those that track and deliver closed-loop reporting of financial metrics. CMOs can see the vision for marketing becoming the economic engine for the company, but they cannot execute on that vision. With this abundance of accountability-enabling technology at hand, why are CMOs still struggling with financial accountability? 

In companies I work with, one of the barriers to adoption is using the wrong side of the brain, the right brain, to try to solve a non-creative problem. Successful CMOs—those that report on revenue—are taking a left-brained approach that we call Revenue Marketing™ (RM). Using a team of RMs, the CMO operationalizes financial accountability through the optimization of a strong marketing operations group. The RM’s very reason for being is to help drive revenue and growth in a company. For those CMOs who are failing, they need to look to the successful CMOs and see how they can create a second chance for themselves. They need to put in place a RM team and culture.

Let’s take a short history lesson for context. Marketing automation platforms were introduced in 2003 (I bought Eloqua in 2004), and since the dawn of these platforms, the buyers and users have been right-brained marketers (RBMs), or the more creative types. After all, this was the most common hiring profile for marketing. It was up to the RBMs to figure out how to leverage the technology and data, a process that was often poorly handled, given their skill sets. As they began to understand just how much they did not know, they “borrowed” expertise in technology, data, and analytics from other parts of the organization. I had many conversations with marketing leaders in the 2007-to-2013 time period, wherein the “borrowing of expertise” was the first step to gaining efficiency and effectiveness from a marketing automation platform. Along the way, the RBMs began hiring more technically savvy marketers to run the systems, and every once in a while, we would see a dedicated data analyst on the RBM team. 

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