2018: A Year of Rants and Raves

In 2018, our CMO Secrets interviewees were only too glad to have the opportunity to share a little extra. Here’s a recap of some of the better rants and raves from the past 8 months of the series, on topics ranging from advice to personal opinions to general interests.

Aaron Dun: It drives me crazy when I hear someone talking about running this killer A/B test and how they are going to double conversion rate, but the volume of people going through the test is so low that doubling would have zero impact on the overall goal. It’s fine to test things incrementally, but how will it SCALE when you are done?

When you set incremental goals you naturally think small. We need to think bigger in order to deliver bigger. I had a running joke with my team that “the target is 10,000” no matter what we were doing. Imagine going from 100 blog subscribers not to 1,000, but how do you get that to 10,000? It forces to you to think completely differently about the kinds of things you will run to find that kind of growth. You can’t increment your way there, you have to find big, step changes to drive scale.

There are no magic bullets to finding scale, but I promise you if you are happy just going for 20-30% increases you will never find it. We have to get out of our heads, push ourselves to think about the problem differently, and create real growth.

Joe Chernov: The rise in single-vendor events masquerading as industry conferences is getting a little tired. A few companies have done it exceptionally well, but now there are copycat events everywhere. Events are the new blog!

Also, too many people conflate demand generation with marketing. As vital as demand generation is, it’s not the only aspect of marketing that matters. And yet for many people, the words are synonymous.

Peter Guagenti: We’re overusing “AI” dramatically. We’re all getting exceptionally good at leveraging data and building more and more automation in our decision making. However, we risk losing all credibility as marketers (and companies) if we insist on calling things something they are not. We have achieved very little true artificial intelligence in our marketing, and that’s okay! Most people haven’t even tapped into the basic data science of predictive, or of machine learning, or of real time decision making. Let’s focus on building the maturity of our data capabilities and not chase jargon and buzzwords.

Allison Barr: I’m fascinated with everything that’s going on around space exploration and travel. We’re able to see into the farthest reaches of the universe, send robots to other planets to give us insights into what comprises them and how they evolve, learn more about the origin of stars and planets which helps us better understand ourselves, and there are companies looking to commercialize getting humans into space for fun and adventure. The folks doing this work are breaking boundaries every day, and using insatiable curiosity to drive their next question, next project. Imagine what would be possible if we all applied that approach to our work?

Jake Sorofman: Curiosity is so underrated and so utterly critical. Read and think broadly. Not business books, necessarily. You’ll be amazed by how many creative connections you make and ideas you trigger by simply looking in unexpected places. Also, be human. Demand more than platitudes and marketing-speak. And be humble. That’s always the better long term play. Ego driven leadership will catch up with you.

Mike Volpe: Just measuring company revenue is not used as much as it should be. On the other hand, I think people spend way too much time on complicated attribution models. The truth is that all the marketing touches matter, and for each deal different ones matter different amounts because every buyer and account is different, and the market and buyers change over time too. So to create a whole model around the idea that roadshow events should have a 12.7% impact in your attribution formula for the next 12 months is a giant waste of time. Get a sense for what is working and then move on.

Mike Troiano: [Marketers] seem to default to a kind of Official Marketing Bullshit mode (OMB for short) that we think sounds impressive but actually telegraphs overly packaged half truth. I tell my own people to read what they write out loud. If they feel like an asshole saying it, then for God’s sake don’t write that way and send it out to our 5,000 person email list.

David Meiselman: I know some people might be tired of hearing this, but AI and Machine Learning are already transforming the landscape and they’re just getting started. You see it in advertising platforms already, but the same concepts will be able to optimize all sorts of other programs like email, conversations, and personalized content in short order. Give the machines enough data and point them in the right direction and all the time we used to spend toiling and testing one thing against another will disappear very quickly. There is almost nothing that we do that won’t be touched by this. And those marketers that can combine an ability to harness the machines to test reactions to creative based on customer empathy will be able to drive amazing results. Embrace our robot overlords!

Charlie Ungashick: I’ve been to so many marketing conferences where the underlying theme is something along the lines of “How do I make myself relevant to sales?” or “How can marketing have a seat at the table?” To me, it’s the wrong mentality. The most successful marketers I’ve met, the ones who inspire me, drive business results. They are change agents. They can see big vision, produce results, and pay close attention to thoughtful execution. However, they don’t spend a lot of time worrying about having a seat at the table. They already do.

Tom Wentworth: Consumers have grown tired of companies abusing their personal data. Before Cambridge Analytica, everyone knew that we were being tracked and targeted with ads. Creepy, but mostly harmless. But now we’ve seen that personal data on top of a platform with the reach of Facebook can influence an election. Or maybe start a war? Or worse. Scary stuff.

GDPR was somewhat of a forcing function for privacy, but many marketers are treating it like a campaign and not a commitment to respect the privacy of their customers. As my friends at Jebbit have pointed out, the reckoning on digital privacy & data is here. We’ve got a lot of work to do to earn back the trust and respect of our customers.

Dan Slagen: The biggest issue I’m continuing to see is defining the role of marketing within a given company. It’s high level, but everything cascades from that agreement between the success of the business and the role/expectations of marketing. Define the goals of marketing in a clear and concise way, and then let your leaders build it. I find this discussion to be a constant source of struggle amongst most teams, which is unfortunate, as something as simple as proper communication ends up wreaking havoc on marketing’s ability to be successful and unlock their true potential.

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