Being a Marketer Is Hard.

September 14, 2020, Logan Neveau

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but CMOs increasingly have the shortest tenure of all C-Suite executives.

As a marketer, your feet are being held to the fire by growth-obsessed CEOs and their investors, who demand you deliver more while your diva sales team continues to throw temper tantrums over the quality of your work. Every decision you make is scrutinized and needs to be approved by Finance, who requires you to show an ROI justification before they let you spend your own budget. And finally, IT gets to dictate what tools you can and can’t use.

Your work is among the most visible in the org, bringing scrutiny to every tiny mistake. Can you even imagine a world where every product bug, sloppy sales call, or budget error received the same blowback as that one typo in that one email?

The good news: there are technology and vendors who can help you out.

The bad news: there are over 8,000 of them, they are starting to blend together, and they can’t seem to play nicely together. OH! Then there’s those 8,000 SDRs who have you in their 8-12 touch Outreach sequence. (That’s 96,000 cold calls, templated emails and Linkedin requests per year!)

Like I said, being a marketer is hard, which is why when ABM came along in the early 2000s promising a smarter way of doing things, we all lined up.

Let’s be honest.

As marketers, if we had 1 superpower it would be storytelling. Mostly we use our powers for good, but like in the schoolyard game Telephone, sloppy storytelling can also blur the line between fact and fiction. That’s how we find ourselves in a situation where ABM continues to rise and CMO tenure continues to fall.

At its core, ABM is about smarter targeting and execution, but we’ve always done that. Even before the Internet, if you were marketing a financial product you’d place your ad in The Wall Street Journal and not Cosmopolitan. With the rise of digital, we gained access data. We can be more targeted and measure the effectiveness of our activities like never before, as cited in the 1993 Peppers and Rogers book, The One to One Future, which is widely credited with branding Account Based Marketing.

Initially, the results were great. Suddenly we were generating Named Account Lists, forecasting which accounts would be our best customers, and focusing all of our activities around them. The accounts in our target lists had higher ASPs and shorter sales cycles–Success! At long last our impacts were measurable and our efforts were vindicated. Here was tangible evidence ABM worked, so what did we do? We doubled down. Suddenly CMOs were given fat budgets and huge bonuses, we got more decision-making power and autonomy, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Except that didn’t happen. So what went wrong?

Assumptions

As marketers and as an industry, we either made poor assumptions or lost track of where the facts ended and our stories started.

We put all of the largest and best accounts on our named account lists. Of course the largest accounts were going to spend the most, and of course the ones with the most pain were going to buy the fastest. That’s not ABM, that’s just common sense.

Next, we focused on surrounding these accounts with brand-awareness activities. You know the ones I’m talking about: expensive gifts, swanky in-person events, ad spam, and personalized content.

We basically called ‘dibs’ on all the best accounts and took credit any time a deal closed, because we couldn’t measure the impact of all our efforts. Maybe we sourced it, maybe we influenced it, maybe we had no impact at all. Who was to say? All of this activity was supposed to lead to higher revenues and lower CACs (aka Profit), but again it didn’t. So what did we miss?

We’re at a Crossroads

We all know we’re missing a Phase 2. We might blame something else like data cleanliness, product-market fit, attribution, sales, or outside factors like pandemics or competitors, but we’re not the only ones who have noticed something isn’t right.  

In the last few years, the way marketers have been measured and compensated has changed drastically. More and more, I’m hearing that marketers are responsible for a sourced pipeline number, or even revenue. Those vanity metrics like account engagement, lift, and impressions are a thing of the past.

Despite our best intentions, our ABM story outgrew the data and the secret is out. This is why our CEOs are raising the bar. This is why you’re seeing the rise of performance and growth marketing titles over brand. And this is why you’re starting to see a divergence between historically reliable sources like industry analysts and customer review sites.

Most notably, TOPO is starting to advocate for the Double Funnel approach, emphasizing equal parts ABM and Demand Gen. While G2 broke ABM into 8 subcategories, Forrester isn’t adapting to this new reality. In fact, their latest ABM New Wave report still seems to measure ABM on the old vanity metrics and their grid seems to be the exact opposite of what real marketers are saying via G2.

This disconnect is so profound that the CMO of one of our customers, Virtana, took the time to write an article highlighting the tectonic shift B2B marketing is undergoing.

Modern marketers like Scott Leatherman understand the traditional all-in-one ABM tool is already antiquated. It’s slow to implement, hard to execute, and nearly impossible to measure any tangible sourced revenue.

Time matters

Average tenure of a CMO
Photo credit: https://www.b2bnn.com/2019/01/editors-note-b2b-cmos/

CMO tenure is slipping, pandemics are raging, and we live in a culture obsessed with instant gratification. This means immense pressure on marketing leaders to deliver meaningful results right now. Switching a core system like a CRM, MAP or ABM platform can be a huge project, and today requires buy-in from Sales, IT and Finance. At a time when marketers likely have little to no social capital, it’s non-starter. Maybe your budget just got cut or you had to downsize your team, but did your goals change?

It doesn’t matter how insurmountable the odds are–you have to deliver, or you have to start updating your resume. You need to figure out what works best for your business and double down on what needed to happen yesterday.

This is exactly why our customers are so passionate about Metadata. Our automated experimentation delivers these answers, and by the time you’re analyzing these insights your budget has already been shifted to double down on the winner. This new generation of marketers knows what they need (results)—and don’t need (fluff)—from their platforms.

Why It Works

Without having the luxury to build the core tech stack of your dreams, having tools that seamlessly plug and play means you can spend your precious time executing, and less time onboarding and configuring a massive tool. That means ROI in weeks, not months or years.

We lay out a trail to guide your strategy and execution, and then make it very efficient for you to track, pivot, analyze, and test—all the things we need to do as marketers while removing all the friction with experimentation.

That means your team can spend less time on tedious tasks like campaign setup, UTM tagging, and sifting through spreadsheets of data, and more on the value adding activities like understanding your customers, adjusting messaging, or rolling out more effective GTM strategies.

All this to say: with Metadata, you can do with more with less. With demand automation you can deliver leads that will satisfy even the most vocal sales diva, while lowering your CAC for your penny pinching CFO and sourcing more pipeline for your CEO.

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