CMO Secrets with Greg Lord

Welcome back to year two of our popular blog series, CMO Secrets. Twice per month, we feature an exceptional Marketing leader from around the industry. Some names will be easily recognized, and others may be new to you, but every single one will have been hand picked for their experience and knowledge in the world of Startups, Technology, and Marketing. The questions are ours, but the answers are theirs – every word, shared without edit, from their fingers to your eyes.

Today, we are excited to welcome Greg Lord, VP of Marketing at Moltin! Greg leads Moltin’s go-to-market strategy for the industry’s first and only Commerce Service. Before Moltin, Greg held marketing and sales leadership positions at SmartBear, Akamai, and Intel. Greg began his career in IT systems management before switching over to the dark side of sales and marketing. Greg has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Bentley University and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. Outside of work, Greg spends most of his time chasing his three young kids.

Tell us about Moltin, the role marketing plays there, and what drew you to the opportunity.

Moltin provides the industry’s first and only API-first, Headless Commerce Service. There’s a lot of buzz words in that descriptor, so the easiest way to think about it is that brands use our technology to build and deliver unique digital commerce experiences that can’t be built with traditional eCommerce platforms like Magento or Shopify, because those traditional solutions are too rigid. By “unique” commerce experiences, think of brand-native (versus generic, out of the box), experience-driven websites, mobile solutions, in-store touch points, IoT, AR/VR, shoppable ads, commerce embedded into content sites, and much more.

I left a great company where I was really happy to join Moltin about a year ago, primarily because I see first-hand every day how consumer behavior is constantly changing, and the need for brands to deliver unique, innovative experiences is critical. This is a huge market, filled with great companies who are desperate for a solution like ours. The marketing team here plays a big role in driving the commercial engine for Moltin. Currently, our lead volume is almost 100% sourced from inbound marketing. But we know the profile of company that is likely to benefit from our solution, so we’re starting to invest much more in outbound ABM as well.

One of the other things I love about Moltin is that we operate as a unified “commercial” team, versus silo’d sales and marketing teams. This close alignment enables us to swarm opportunities and execute with less friction – making the buying process better for our prospects and driving better conversion for our business.

Are there any particular aspects of the commerce technology space that present unique marketing challenges?

One of the interesting learnings, and frankly something we’re still learning about, is the right stakeholders that need to be involved in the buying decision for a solution like Moltin. Our end-users are developers, and we originally had a thesis that we could focus on a product-led growth approach and focus on bottoms-up adoption amongst the developers within a business. However, we’ve found that in commerce, buying decisions for strategic solutions like Moltin run through the business leaders, often all the way up to the CEO, so it’s presented a unique marketing challenge to align multiple stakeholder groups in the buying process – the developers, the technical decision maker (CTO, CIO, VP of Engineering, etc), and the business decision maker (VP of eCommerce, CMO, CDO, CEO, etc). To support this model, we’ve evolved from a product-led growth model into a more traditional B2B solutions selling model, but we’ve also tried to keep many of the product-led growth principles to reduce friction from our process.

As consumers ourselves, we all are familiar with the types of broken e-commerce experiences that make us cringe. As a marketer, how do you balance your storytelling between leaning on those ‘real-life’ consumer POV stories and weaving in the technology piece?

To be candid, this is something we are working on and need to get better at. As a developer-founded company where we previously focused almost exclusively on trying to sell to developers, we’ve previously taken the approach of focusing almost exclusively on the tech – with the assumption that we could win the day by telling a story about how our tech is better than the other guy or gal’s tech. And while we still believe that’s true, and there are core architectural differences in our solution that matter, we also recognize the importance of connecting the dots between our technology and the use-cases it is able to unlock for the business. So we’re starting to focus much more on the consumer experiences that brands can use Moltin to deliver, and how those experiences will drive greater consumer engagement, and ultimately revenue, for our customers.

In your career, you’ve spent a lot of time as a Product Marketer. How have those experiences influenced the way you lead now as a VP of Marketing?

I kind of stumbled my way into Product Marketing once upon a time, as I made the transition from being an IT manager over to the dark side of sales and marketing. I gravitated to PMM because as an implementer of technology solutions in the earlier parts of my career, I found that I was really good at the “bullshit test” as a PMM – meaning I naturally knew how to market the tech in a way that would get buyers excited. In terms of how my experiences in PMM have shaped my approach as a VP of Marketing, there are two primary implications. First, I’m heavily invested in the definition of the positioning and messaging, because I believe that is critical and is the foundation on which the entire go-to-market strategy is built. The second is that I’m very fortunate to have built a team of people around me who are way smarter and more capable in the areas where I am not as strong, namely demand gen and developer success. I think that self-awareness about how I can best apply my own strengths, and where I need to augment with team members who are strong in areas that I am not, has been really helpful.

If budget for headcount wasn’t a factor, and you could built your dreamteam marketing department, what are the first ~5 roles you would start that team with?

I love this question. There’s a bit caveat here, in that it depends on the commercial model of the company and buying process of the target customer, but in general, here would be my top 5 draft class:

  1. Evangelist (Over time I’ve come to appreciate more-and-more the importance of brand and buzz)
  2. Demand gen
  3. Content
  4. BDR
  5. Ops / Data analytics

A lot of folks would likely have PMM in their top 5, but I would defer that to be somewhere in hire 6-10, as I would wear that hat in the early days. I would (and currently do) lean on agencies and contractors for the website, design, marketing systems admin, some SEO, and some PPC.

Have you experienced an a-hah marketing moment at Moltin that lead to some kind of breakthrough or improvement? How about an oh-no/oh-sh*t marketing moment?

I wish I could say there was just one “aha” moment. The reality is that it’s been a bunch of micro-moments along the way. Some of those moments we picked up on very quickly and were able to adjust immediately, which was great. Others we were late in picking up on, and were kind of left frustrated by why we didn’t pick up on it earlier. One example is that we probably focused on Product-led growth for too long before we realized it wasn’t having the commercial impact we had hoped. At the end of the day, for a company of our size/stage, we’re maniacally focused on finding pattern recognition and repeatability in our commercial model, so we will know where to lean in and focus on scaling – and I think we’re doing a pretty good job at that.

If you had to place a bet right now, where do you think Moltin will see the most marketing growth/success/impact in 2020?

Analyst Relations, Buzz, and ABM.

What attitudes or beliefs in marketing need to change?

I don’t know that I would call-out any outdated attitudes or beliefs, per se. I have found that, in general, the marketing community is super supportive and collaborative, so I think as long as you’re willing to put yourself out there and ask questions and share what you’re learning, it’s pretty easy to stay relevant. As someone who cut my teeth in PMM, I am biased on this one, but to me it all comes down to positioning – what do you provide, for whom, what does it do better than your competitors, and why does it matter to your customer. If you can nail the positioning in a compelling way, then there will always be new and creative tactics and tools that you can use to take that message to market.

What’s the best career advice you ever received and who did it come from?

“Don’t be a victim.” This advice came from my first boss out of college. He told me that throughout his career he often heard people make excuses for why things didn’t work out the way they had wanted to – whether it be a project they were working on, a promotion they didn’t get, etc – some people can fall into the trap of being a victim of things outside their control and using that as an excuse for why things didn’t go their way, versus taking personal responsibility for things. The point of view that success, both professionally and outside of work, is directly attributed to your own actions and work ethic… that point of view really resonated with me, and has stuck with me to today.

What advice of your own would you like to pass on to up-and-coming marketers?

The best advice I can give, especially in your first 3-5 years after undergrad, is to focus on getting paid in experience, over getting paid in cash. Especially in a hot job market like we’re in right now, it’s easy to jump to a new gig and make another 10 or 20k, but I would challenge folks to find companies and managers who will invest time in mentoring and coaching them, and giving them responsibility beyond their years of experience, as this will help them learn and grow faster (and much more fun!). In my experience, if you are able to acquire good experience, the money will follow over time.

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