Welcome to our blog series, CMO Secrets. On the first and third Wednesday of every 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 welcome Robin Saitz. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, Robin has a proven track record of building high performance teams and brands in the software industry. As CMO at Avecto, Robin is responsible for steering the company’s global marketing strategy, including positioning and messaging through to demand generation and awareness programs. Prior to Avecto, she was the CMO at Brainshark where she led the repositioning and rebrand of the company in the sales enablement space and built a high-performing demand generation and marketing operations team. And before Brainshark, she had a successful career with PTC, where she was most recently Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Operations and led PTC’s lead-to-revenue initiative, driving alignment between marketing and sales.
Tell us about Avecto, why you were excited to join them as CMO, and the role marketing plays there.
There were a few things that attracted me to Avecto.
1. The cybersecurity space is hot. Products in this space are not a nice to have, they are a need to have. And one of the key business drivers for our growth is compliance and regulatory mandates. That’s a marketer’s dream.
2. The Avecto culture is extremely unique and I connected with the people immediately. We are customer-centric – Our customers love us as demonstrated by our very high NPS. We want to win, and we want to have fun doing it.
3. The growth rate was terrific and this was without a lot of marketing. I knew I could help the company continue to grow and grow faster.
What was your quickest “win” at Avecto and how did that compare to your quickest win at Brainshark?
At both Avecto and Brainshark, I did a lot of listening at first, during the interview process and in the first month or so. Early on, I knew one of the most important things I had to do was assess the team, their motivations, and determine if we were missing skills necessary to succeed. I quickly built out the org structure I needed and began recruiting immediately to fill gaps in the team.
Have you experienced any big surprises or “ah-hah!” moments in your time at Avecto? Programs you were surprised worked – and better yet – programs you were surprised didn’t work?
We introduced a customer and prospect newsletter at Avecto early on, but we didn’t get a great response rate. It was a heavy task for my team to prepare each newsletter, so until we fixed other fundamental issues (a cold database that needed cleaning, for example), we decided to put it on hold. We also dipped our toes into account-based advertising and saw excellent results – 60% lift in targeted accounts and 900% increase in page views.
If you could add one more role to your marketing team today to own a different/new/experimental area of marketing, what would it be and why?
The next role I would add to my team is a data/analytics person. Data is fundamental to the success of everything we do in marketing. Having someone who is focused on database health, database enrichment aligned to our personas and target accounts, and the data needed to measure our performance is key.
What’s the best career advice you ever received and who did it come from?
I know this might sound corny, but some of the best advice I’ve been given is to listen to your gut and stay true to yourself. If the work doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel passionate about the business, how can you expect to be successful working 50+ hours a week with/for/about/on – fill in the blank – the people, the product, the market, etc. This advice came from an executive coach with whom I worked with for several years.
Do you have another piece of advice you’d like to pass on to other marketing and technology pros making their way through the world?
Most recently, we hired Dr. Steve Bull, sports psychologist and author of “The Game Plan – Your Guide to Mental Toughness at Work” to speak at our sales kick off. One of the many nuggets I took away from his talk is “control the controllables.” This is important advice and will reduce the stress in any situation, whether worrying about the weather PMC weekend (I need to stop doing this BTW) or staying in a job that makes you unhappy. If you can’t control certain aspects of a situation, then it’s a waste of energy to worry about it – control what you can control.
Thinking back to some of your very first jobs, were there any early lessons learned or key experiences that have stuck with you and that you’ve continued to apply and found to be helpful throughout your career?
When I joined PTC it was about 170 people. I quickly learned I would need to wear many hats in my role as product manager, and that I, along with everyone in the company, would need to pitch in to help the company succeed, even if it wasn’t in my job description. I take that approach to most everything I do – If I have an opinion, I share it; If I have had an experience solving a similar problem to one faced by a colleague, I offer to share my experience; If my team or I can help another team, I offer to help. At Avecto, we call that All for All.
Are you more of a left-brained or right-brained marketer, and what steps do you take to balance your strengths with those of the team around you?
Having been trained as an engineer, I am probably more left-brained than right-brained. I like to use data to inform my decisions, whether it’s the gathering of market intelligence to help formulate a GTM strategy and messaging, or performance data to help me adjust that strategy. I look to have a balance of skills and talent on my team – creatives (both visual and content), process-oriented, collaborative yet independent, analytical, curious. We used the Predictive Index to help understand the motivations of the people on my team and those of candidates we were considering to ensure we strike the right balance.
If you could wave a wand and fix one area of 2018 marketing – for all marketers – what would it be?
The list is long, but I would want to make it much easier to track the performance of marketing. This is not just on the tools side, because there are some great tools out there. We use Full Circle Insights. But a lead-to-revenue process that requires sales to put their hands on the keyboard in order to track performance is always going to be challenging.
What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?
I am particularly proud of the teams I’ve built and the people I’ve coached and mentored over the years. Many of these folks have gone on to be great marketing leaders in their own right – CMO’s, VPs of Marketing, Directors – and are making a big impact in their organizations. We remain in touch and I enjoy the chance to continue to mentor them but also enjoy learning from them and their new experiences.
You’ve personally raised over $300K for charity through the PMC. Has your experience in B2B marketing in any way shaped the way you approach fundraising? And any lessons you can share with all the other aspiring successful PMCers and charity fundraisers out there?
That’s an interesting question. Both my husband and I ride in the PMC so we have to raise a lot of money. The minimum between the two of us is nearly $10,000, and our goal is $26,000 this year. The key considerations for a B2B marketing campaign are the same for our fundraising campaign: Message, audience, cadence of communications, and communication tactics. My fundraising approach has changed a lot over the years, mostly due to the availability of technology to reach more people in an automated way. Audience: My approach is somewhat broad in that I reach out to almost everyone I know to ask for support – our friends, our wedding list (that’s 25 years old), service providers (doctors, dentists, lawyers, lawn service, etc), our parents’ and siblings’ friends, our children’s friends’ parents, business friends, etc. Message: I never feel shy about asking for support for the PMC. 100% of the money raised goes directly to life-saving research by the world-renowned Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund. Cadence and tactics: I typically do a three touch email process (May, June, and July) leading up to the event, a small direct mailing for those folks who prefer to write a check over donating online (I know who they are based on their past donation patterns), several posts on Facebook and 1-2 on LinkedIn. Word of mouth: My sister and sisters-in-law share our request for sponsorship and they have very large networks. And my mom has a large Twitter following with nearly 8,500 followers and she shares our donation page, too.
What’s one true thing about you that your teammates would be surprised by or not expect?
They might not know that before I decided to pursue engineering and then marketing that I had thought about becoming a cantor. I was very active as a song leader in my Jewish youth group at the local and regional level when I was in high school. I never pursued it, but sang acapella in the Trinity Pipes in college and still love to sing.