Welcome to our blog series, CMO Secrets. 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 Tom Wentworth of RapidMiner. As Chief Marketing Officer, Tom is responsible for global go-to-market strategy, demand generation, product marketing, and communications. Before joining RapidMiner, Tom was the Chief Marketing Officer at Acquia where he guided the business through its rapid growth phase from $45m revenue in 2012 to well over $100m in 2015. Prior to Acquia, Tom held a variety of Sales and Marketing leadership roles at Episerver and HP/Autonomy. Tom holds a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He was kind enough to let us have some fun with his photo selection.
Tell us about RapidMiner, why you were excited to join them, and the role marketing plays there.
RapidMiner is a data science platform for analytics teams. Companies use RapidMiner to build predictive models for a variety of applications, including reducing customer churn, increasing upsell, fraud detection, text analytics, and many more.
I joined RapidMiner because I think that artificial intelligence is a generational opportunity, and the most important advancement I’ll see in my lifetime. RapidMiner had a fantastic product, huge community, and clear product/market fit. My job was (and still is) to help scale the company.
What were your highest priorities when you first started at RapidMiner, and how did you know those were the right things to start with?
One of the first things we did was implement a product qualified lead model that let us accelerate growth while maintaining strong unit economics. It’s a really interesting model, and we’re getting better at it every day.
What advice do you have for B2B marketing execs re: the best way to “keep score” (or measure success) of their marketing efforts?
Easy —measure revenue and things that directly lead to revenue. The latter will depend on your specific business model. At RapidMiner, we obsess over monthly active users.
Whatever you look at, pick something that you’ll consistently measure over time. I’ve seen companies change metrics far too often, which makes it hard to understand patterns and trends.
In your experience, what traits or behaviors separate good marketers from great marketers? And how do you vet those when hiring?
A passion for learning. Prior work experience isn’t enough, I want to know that you are going to invest in yourself. For example, I recently hired a BDR who had taken a number of machine learning classes on Udacity. I couldn’t call him back fast enough once I read his CV.
I also appreciate diversity of ideas. Sure, it’s great that you read the latest post on GrowthHackers, but I’m more impressed with someone who drops quotes from “Ogilvy on Advertising” or the 1923 classic “Scientific Advertising.”
One easy way I’ve found to vet this is by asking a simple question: “As a marketer, who inspires you?”. It’s impossible to fake passion.
Are there any types of marketing decisions that you struggle with or that create the most debate among your team?
Marketing is a constant battle of prioritization and endless shiny objects to chase. I encourage my team to break things down into first principals, and I ask them “why” an annoying number of times.
But with clearly defined goals and first principals thinking, decisions are pretty easy to make.
We recently talked with Lynne Capozzi – current CMO of Acquia – and she counted 27 different products in her team’s marketing tech stack. Do you remember what that number was when you were there? How do you vet new solutions for your team?
Believe it or not, it might have been more than 27! I’m the classic early adopter Geoffrey Moore describes in Crossing the Chasm. I’m always looking for new things on ProductHunt. I want vendors to give me access to new stuff before anyone else.
The mistakes I’ve made with my tech stack all come down to the same issue: underestimating how much effort it takes from people to make technology work. I’ve learned my lesson, and we use a lot less tech at RapidMiner.
I get pitched on new products all the time, but the only source I really trust is my network.
Tag a few marketers you admire and learn from – and then a couple of up-and-comers we should all keep an eye on.
Operations pros are the unsung heroes of growth, so I’ll highlight two of the best I’ve worked with. Jamie Sloan runs marketing operations and automation at InVisionApp, where she works on one of the highest performing marketing funnels in all of SaaS. My RapidMiner colleague Heidi Rawding runs sales operations, and thanks to her we have sales processes and a level of Salesforce maturity that companies 10x our size would kill for.
By the way, it’s no coincidence that both Jamie and Heidi worked with Carol Myers at Rapid7. Carol is a fantastic CMO and has mentored many of the best marketers in Boston.
And of course, there’s Mike Volpe at Cybereason. I shifted from sales to marketing later on in my career. By reading and studying everything Mike put out, I was able to fake my way through the early days.
What’s the most impactful change you think we’ll see in digital marketing in the next 5 years?
Privacy. I think 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.
Which marketing metric do you think is most under-appreciated/ underrated? And which is overrated?
The most underrated metric for me is deal velocity. So many good things happen when you are able to help sales close deals faster.
The most overrated metric is lead scoring, especially point-based lead scoring where you assign a best-guess weighting to specific attributes and actions. Seriously, please stop doing this. Find a data scientist to build a predictive model for you, buy a predictive lead scoring product, or take some machine learning classes.
Do you ever have any downtime at work? If so, what do you do with that time? And do you ever try to help yourself and your team step away from work to reflect/recharge, etc.?
I actively create downtime. My calendar is unusually empty as I can’t stand big meetings, and I’m obsessed at keeping most of them off of my calendar. I like to find time for 1-1 conversations, and for activities like writing that help me frame ideas.
But I need to do a better job at helping my team find time in their day to do the same. It’s something I’m working on.
What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?
Helping people advance in their careers. It’s been humbling to watch a cohort of my Acquia colleagues move on to lead marketing teams.
What’s one (true) thing readers would be surprised to read about you?
I was born on leap year! And I’m a superfan of the Smashing Pumpkins and a huge fan of the movies Top Gun and Karate Kid.
How did you fall in love with the Smashing Pumpkins? And what are your favorite song(s)?
I went to college in the 90s at the University of Illinois where the Smashing Pumpkins used to play small clubs. They sounded like a blend of my two favorite bands, Van Halen and The Cure (weird combo, I know).
I first saw them at a tiny club in Champaign, IL called the Blind Pig. Less than 24 hours later I bought my first guitar and entered super fandom.
Best songs are Muzzle, Mayonaise, and Snail.
What are some lessons from Top Gun or the Karate Kid that can be applied to marketing? And were you excited about the new Cobra Kai series?
I’m pretty sure I know who planted this question ☺
The Karate Kid is the classic underdog story, chock full of lessons for both marketing and life. Everyone gets their leg swept at some point, but how will you respond?
I binge watched the entire Cobra Kai season in a night. It was far better than I hoped, and it looks there will be a season 2!
We talk a lot about open marketing: to us, there are very real and meaningful differences between open and closed systems/platforms, as well as open vs closed approaches or philosophies to marketing and business in general. What does open marketing mean to you?
I’m a big believer in open everything. It wasn’t all that long ago that enterprise IT was dominated by just a few vendors like Oracle and IBM. Then along came open source and open cloud platforms, driving a wave of massive innovation and customer value that wasn’t happening when just a few vendors owned the entire CIO budget.
But those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, and that’s what we’re seeing with the advent of just a few marketing clouds and their closed ecosystems. Let’s face it, the big closed marketing platforms are stuck in a rut, with most development going towards product integration inside the ecosystem instead of delivering real innovation and customer value. Marketing needs the type of rapid innovation that comes from open source communities, and CMOs need to make openness a priority to capitalize on the opportunity.