013 | How a B2B CMO Can Lead Toward the Horizon with Nicholas Holland | Studio CMO
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The Episode in 60 Seconds
Nicholas Holland breaks things. Then, he builds them better than before. His role at HubSpot puts him in the cockpit with SMB and Enterprise CMOs who are trying to fly their marketing jets to new heights. He’s heard their struggles and tries to give them tools for powering their futures.
This interview powers through topics including:
- Why your existing customers are the biggest catalysts for future business
- Why integration between sales and marketing really breaks down
- How to ramp up marketing automation and personalization
- How to sit at the revenue table in confidence
- The next two years of marketing
Nicholas Holland is a product maker, entrepreneurial dreamer, and lover of mixed martial arts. He’s the General Manager and Vice President of Marketing Hub at HubSpot.
He founded and exited from several SaaS companies in the Nashville area before joining forces with HubSpot to run their marketing labs endeavor.
Listen starting at 3:00 to discover more of Nicholas’ career journey and lessons learned.
When Nicholas was a SaaS leader, he considered HubSpot for his CRM and marketing automation platform but ended up going with someone else. Find out at about 4:30 why he made that decision.
HubSpot set themselves apart and continued to iterate and innovate through imprinting their culture throughout. Explore this slide deck to learn more.
Nicholas recommends Drive by Daniel Pink as a guide to help identify and define autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Every single system that you stitched together has a small coefficient of drag on how fast you can go. – Nicholas Holland
HubSpot departed from the idea of a funnel and adopted a flywheel. Why? What brought it about? Listen at 17:00 to join in the debate.
Nicholas illustrates the flywheel by considering your net promoter score.
Integration between sales and marketing breaks down, as does the true power of marketing data, at this point: when you aren’t willing to invest in connecting all your systems together, you’ll never truly understand what your customer is thinking and feeling.
The Ultimate Reason You Need a Marketing Automation Platform
Can I sit at the revenue table with the sales leader? And can I show the points I’ve put on the board? That’s it. You want to crack open a CMOs brain, ask them to sit down and have a frank discussion about how much revenue they should get credit for versus the sales org. – Nicholas Holland
At about 23 minutes, Nicholas talks about how to truly integrate your systems to get better vision into your customer. He also talks about better, more highly refined governance and ABM.
The Next Twenty-Four Months
Customer communication will be a challenge.
You’re just not your audience anymore. – Nicholas Holland
The emergence of the CDP, a customer data portal.
Building a Team for the Next Two Years
1. You will need someone to oversee the entire journey.
Be sure to listen to the story at 38 minutes about when Nicholas made a new hire in this area. She had an outrageous request.
2. An OPS person whether Marketing Ops, Revenue Ops, or Data Ops
[Caroline Japic at Kenna Security knows the power of the marketing ops role. That’s why she hired Jeremy Middleton. Listen to how they work together in episode 11.]
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Mark Whitlock (00:02): The role of CMO is changing. The demands you must respond to. The areas of business where you must exert influence. The ever-increasing conversion to digital. But there’s one pain you’re feeling that Nicholas Holland from HubSpot sees as most critical.
Nicholas Holland (00:17): Can I sit at the revenue table with the sales leader? And can I show the points I’ve put on the board? That’s it. You want to crack open a CMOs brain, ask them to sit down and have a frank discussion about how much revenue they should get credit for versus the sales org, versus the service org who maybe is also who, you know, doing stuff.
Mark Whitlock (00:38): We’re going to talk about how to be a CMO now and how to lead over the next two years. That’s today on Studio CMO.
Mark Whitlock (01:02): Welcome to Studio CMO. This is the podcast where we do three things on a regular basis. We introduce you to CMOs and the people who CMOs love to listen to we’ll break down marketing strategies and tactics, and we’ll have real live conversations about the issues that matter to you. The most I’m Mark Whitlock, I’m alongside our host, the visionary leader of Golden Spiral. John Farkas.
John Farkas (01:24): Greetings everybody.
Mark Whitlock (01:25): My cohost Angus Nelson is here.
Angus Nelson (01:28): Hello! Hello!
Mark Whitlock (01:28): Today, we’re not talking with a CMO, BUT we’re talking to a voice every CMO should listen to and love it. So turn up the volume on your iPhone, slow the player back down to one and a half times speed and get ready.
Nicholas Holland (01:43): Well today we have the pleasure of talking to a fellow Nashville native. He’s, a product maker, entrepreneurial dreamer, and lover of mixed martial arts. The one tasked with where the world is going and establishing the tools necessary to fulfill marketing effectiveness. He’s the general manager and vice president of marketing hub at HubSpot. Please welcome to the show. Nicholas Holland. Welcome man.
Nicholas Holland (02:06): Hey man. Thanks for having me guys.
Nicholas Holland (02:07): Woot. Woot. After that intro I was waiting for a crowd.
John Farkas (02:10): I know Mark’s going to have to edit in some major, uh, some major applause noise there
Mark Whitlock (02:16): Or a golf clap from the Masters with some, uh, what’s the birds chirping in the background. Yeah, you are all not seeing Nicholas is very swanky masters mug that he is sporting this morning. Taunting all of us.
Angus Nelson (02:33): It’s really important, you know, as we start this conversation just want to start real quickly. You know, HubSpot is traditionally known as an SMB, you know, play a tool for those small medium businesses and they have rapidly accelerated into an enterprise level of business. And I would love for us just to start off with that, you know, in your role in making that happen. Nicholas.
Nicholas Holland (02:51): My journey at HubSpot started off where I had come from some entrepreneurial roots and I started working on, uh, an innovation division for them. Part of HubSpot’s journey was to start capturing some of the freemium market. And so that would be a very common move for an SMB business to start offering freemium services.
John Farkas (03:13): So give us a little bit of context there what’s the timeframe for.
Nicholas Holland (03:18): four years ago, I had just sold a SAS company that I had built ironically, to serve a salespeople. And that’s how I got on HubSpot’s radar. They were actually one of the companies looking to buy it. I ended up selling it to another firm, stayed in touch with them for a year. And they said, we have this little labs division. Would you like to mess with it? And I came in and HubSpot was exploring freemium with their CRM and I said, let’s make some freemium marketing tools. And so we started to do that and HubSpot marketing free came out and that really meshes well with the SMB space that we were in.
Nicholas Holland (03:56): It took off like a rocket ship. And even today, our freemium tools in the marketing space are, are really nice and functional. They’re not nag wear, et cetera. And then after about six to nine months, they said, I’m really, what’s funny about HubSpot is that if you complain about anything, you ended up getting to own. And so I was complaining about our marketing tools and, uh, and I told a story about how, even back in the day I had evaluated HubSpot, but I ended up choosing another solution. So I was fortunate enough then to be given the content, all the content tools. And they were like, well, let’s see what you can do here. And then after that, it started to go, well then about nine months later after that, about, about two year mark, they said, we’re starting to explore this concept of where someone owns the entire business line.
Nicholas Holland (04:45): And marketing is obviously our biggest business line, but you’re pretty passionate about it. Would you like to do that? So it was my first order of business. They said, you know, we have a lot of companies outgrowing us specifically, like when you have a CMO or something like that, HubSpot’s not even a considered option. And they say, can you go figure out why that is? And really so little over two years ago, I started my journey of focusing almost exclusively on that larger side of the market on the more sophisticated marketing tactics and the way we did that in a way that doesn’t break our original DNA is we really like how, ironically, chip makers do it. And it’s funny how you find inspiration and other companies, but all I call chip makers do it. And that a massive amount of investment innovation forward thinking goes into the top level chip that comes out.
Nicholas Holland (05:38): And then as that chip basically matures, proliferates becomes common. That then moves down into the other parts of the chip makers portfolio. You know, we don’t go around and talking about Pentium cores anymore or anything like that because that’s now commonplace in what we do. The same thing happens in really, HubSpot’s not dealing with a bunch of marketers who don’t know what they’re doing anymore, that trend and that ship has really already sailed the vast majority of the marketers that are out there even getting starting today are quite sophisticated. And so when we look at our enterprise band, that was an area where we started saying, let’s put a lot of the most sophisticated thinking that we’re doing, uh, the issues that people are dealing with. It’s scales, sophistication, competitiveness. That’s a big one that a lot of CMOs struggle with. It’s smaller entities don’t deal with.
Nicholas Holland (06:29): And so we started working on that and it’s been two years. We do a big conference each year called inbound. The last two inbounds have been heavily focused on, uh, on the marketing side, specifically on the innovations on that. And even in January of this year, uh, did a pretty big worldwide tour. Pretty sure I got sick. I’m not kidding. I’m pretty sure I got sick while I did this, but I did a big worldwide tour across all of our markets and started really pushing hard into the enterprise space in a really overt way. We’d been pretty clandestine, but we’re pretty overt now. And so we pulled off our gloves and we said, you know, to any CMO that’s out there, uh, we think you should take a look and we’re feeling pretty good about our chances.
John Farkas (07:07): So I’ve got to say Nicholas, as I look at what HubSpot has done over the last five years, as far as growing into the space, I am not aware of a, a SaaS organization solving a complex set of problems like HubSpot is doing that has covered more ground faster then HubSpot has. Yeah. And before we get into kind of, cause I know where we want to go is understanding some of what you’re seeing on the horizon. But before we go there just a little bit of insider baseball here, how has HubSpot fostered the kind of agility and mobility that the organization has, is allowed it to, uh, to make those kinds of changes to, to expand like that? Tell us a little bit about the culture that exists, that facilitates that kind of expansion.
Nicholas Holland (08:03): We codify the culture, uh, tell you, uh, that sounds like a bunch of mushy stuff when you’re on the outside. Um, but you know, there’s a deck that if I’m a CMO and I’m listening to this, I would strongly encourage you to look at it’s called the HubSpot Culture Code. You know, I used to be in the entrepreneurial world and you would lean on culture all the time as a counterpoint, to the big evil corporations that were out there. And I think what HubSpot did is they codified the culture so that they keep a lot of the things that work whenever you’re a smaller team, whenever you’re scrappy, when you’re hungry, that then brings up, they really lean into a lot of, you know, if you think about Daniel Pink’s Drive book, that autonomy, mastery, and purpose, they lean into that a lot. So we have a lot of small autonomous teams that we give a big problems to.
Nicholas Holland (08:56): And the scorecard is interesting. Um, I even think about this sometimes with my kids, you know, you have intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. So if you’re a leader, one of the things you can say is you must have a TPS report ready for me each month. And people do that. I think the reverse is if it’s intrinsic motivation, you know, you say we want to win. How do you make the biggest impact on winning HubSpot does a really powerful job of basically saying like, you know, John, you are on the team, how do you make the biggest impact? And I’ve given you a sandbox to play in, but if you don’t like the sandbox, hell, tear it down and tell me the new sandbox that you want first off, it’s completely paralyzing at first. And then on the other hand, it’s completely empowering that then sets the stage for the last part, which is one of the ways we’ve evolved so rapidly is our founders are really paranoid.
Nicholas Holland (09:51): Uh, not in a bad way. What I mean is they’re really paranoid in that they believe that this could all stop at a moment’s notice. The minute we, we forget that the customer is the most important thing. There was a book written about HubSpot. I had just joined and I can’t remember, but basically there’s a book written about HubSpot where, uh, an older gentleman was like putting HubSpot’s culture on blast, trying to make fun of all the Silicon Valley stuff. You know, I think he tries to dramatize the story where one of the founders brought a Teddy bear into a room and kind of made everybody think about it as if it was a customer. And I look at that story. I think it’s awesome. Because so many times we forget the customer, everything is about data and things like that. And so that kind of permeates to where the, the language all the time from the founders down and even up, you can always ask the founders to, you can say, you think that’s best for the customer.
Nicholas Holland (10:41): And you’ll see people quizzically like, look back. That goes fast. And then the other part is, and this is relevant to the CMOs as well, is that we basically lucked out and that we have an incredible tech team. We started to see that we were needing other solutions. We thought let’s go buy that solution. And so we started trying to get into some M and a stuff early on and we didn’t, we didn’t get him. Uh, we kind of joke about it internally now, but like we got up to bat and we were either nervous or we didn’t make the right bid or someone else bought it before us. And so there was just a string of like M and a things that we thought we were going to do that we didn’t and our engineering team, every time we didn’t buy it, the pain was there.
Nicholas Holland (11:22): If you’re already looking at buying something, the pain’s there. And so then we began to figure out more and more clever ways to build it ourselves. And so since we couldn’t buy and go as fast, we started getting really smart about the underlying platform. And so the lesson I would take all the way back to the CMOs on here is that believe it or not every single system that you stitched together has a small coefficient of drag on how fast you can go. And again, if you’re Tesla, if you think about it, you’re like relentless about removing friction on your vehicles so that you can effectively build it cheaper, go faster, get more out of the UV. And when I think about a lot of the systems that are out there every time you have to have somebody maintain an API between two systems, every time you have to basically go from system a to system B to do reporting on it, that’s all a coefficient of drag and it has to be worth it so that you could then of course get whatever the best in breed benefit is on the other side.
Nicholas Holland (12:20): And that’s kind of a fancy way of saying that we built a lot of our underpinnings in a way that we could keep building rapidly. And now everything that we’ve built has all been kind of seamless. We’ve we’ve done one major acquisition with PieSync, and we’re spending a lot of time being very methodical about how do we make that native and feel seamless versus let’s say like a counterpoint would be some of the other large companies, you know, have bought a bunch of individual solutions. And so you get different bills from them. You have different UXs. You have different names for them, and then you have to spend a lot of time wiring it up. So that’s how we did it and awesome.
Nicholas Holland (12:54): A bunch of third-party consultants in which to implement that’s correct. That’s correct. Experience has been most advantageous. Yeah.
Nicholas Holland (13:02): And we’ve become interesting. Another thing that’s fascinating is like a, again, when I think now about leadership things I’ve learned here is every time you have to repeat yourself, every time you have to switch contexts, all of these again are just coefficients, just drag coefficients. And so when you have, when you’re building even a user interface for customers, you know, if you have, this is we had this debate the other day internally, if you have a way to filter data different end point a than in point B, you can’t imagine the mental drain on the end user. If they have to keep up with that. And then number two, it’s even worse. Whenever you have specialty in, in kind of section a, of the software and specialists in section B of the software, if you lose one of those due to turnover or someone’s sick, or just life happens, they have a, uh, you know, something where they have to step away to then have that other person go cover them, takes training, onboarding, ramping.
Nicholas Holland (13:58): So if you sit back and we call it friction on the flywheel, it’s a, that’s a, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But like effectively, if you were to map all the areas that effectively you have friction in your system, you’d be fascinated, you’d be fascinated. And it all adds up to something. And that’s a really what a lot of CMOs struggle with, which is it’s easy to say, no one ever got fired for hiring IBM. And they’re always out there just saying like, well, I heard at this conference, I read in the back of the SkyMall magazine, this is who we should be using. And I know it’s, I know it’s not quite that bad, but you know, it is, it is to some degree, CMOs don’t have the capability of vetting the software. So they effectively either by what their peers did or they effectively will put someone in charge of choosing who’s terrified about getting out of the line. I mean, why you dealt with somebody choose a weird solution that the CMO is not going to sign off on, or they sometimes we’ll get RFP companies and that’s a little bit more fair, but anyways, hopefully that helps. Yeah. Yeah.
John Farkas (14:58): Nicholas, we talked about how you codified the culture of innovation in the context of HubSpot. There’s been another important codifying movement within HubSpot. And that is, you know, as we look at what has happened in the last really decade in the context of marketing, the funnel, as it’s traditionally been known has dramatically transformed. And I think HubSpot did a service to the marketing community and putting some language around what has happened and helped us into, and an understanding and some insight into how to manage and put a pattern around that transformation, the concept of a flywheel rather than a funnel. Do a little 101 around the flywheel for us to be just to get everybody level set. Then we’ll talk a little bit about how you are moving into that as an organization to help us realize the future,
Angus Nelson (15:53): the flyby of the flywheel
10 years ago, uh, our founders spotted an interesting trend in that Google specifically, Google was equalizing the playing field of large and small companies. Google didn’t know that you had a beautiful office and Google didn’t know that you had white shoe blue suit buttoned up, salespeople, Google basically said, are you helping our customers? Are you the best at, at, you know, solving this question that someone has and when they leveled the playing field, it meant that if you could basically adopt a concept of helping customers, when they had a question through the search engine, you would be the first rank. And of course the spoils of business and love and joy would fall upon you. And that was really the birth of inbound. So inbound is our way originally of talking about content marketing. And it was just a very clever way of describing a, be a good marketer.
Nicholas Holland (16:54): You know, don’t poison the well be a good marketer. And if you do that and basically good things will happen to you. I tell you that backdrop story, because it was predicated on a transition or a change in technology. That’s really what allowed HubSpot to emerge. Well, that’s, we believe is happening again. And I’ll tell you a story it’s relevant now with a lot of the crisises that are happening in America. There’s a lot of disinformation that’s out there, misinformation, sorry, there’s two, actually things there’s misinformation, disinformation. One’s like a, you’re just dumb and spreading bad stuff. And then this information is your malicious and spreading it. What’s relevant about that is there’s now people studying how this happens. And they’re seeing the proliferation of information online from where the, I it’s almost like contact tracing with viruses, they’re saying where it starts and then how it effectively transitions online.
Nicholas Holland (17:48): And I was reading an article recently about how they’ve tracked back to a concept of emerges and kind of a private group. And then it percolates out very slowly until it hits another pocket of users in an explodes. Then it moves out to it hits another tribe and then it explodes. So let’s switch all of this heavy stuff about politics and viruses and all stuff. And let’s just switch out to like, how do people transfer information about what’s the best product out there? What’s the best thing to solve a particular pain point in that tribe? The same thing happens. An idea, a concept of pain emerges a group of likeminded. People consolidate around that they didn’t spread the solution or that it then hits another pocket. It explodes. Why does that matter for today’s COO it’s because we are not a homogenous group of people sitting in front of the television.
Nicholas Holland (18:43): Yeah. We’re not even a homogenous group of people now searching Google. We are now fractured into a huge, beautiful stained glass of thousands of private little pocket groups that are interacting with each other. And what we have learned here at HubSpot is that what that ultimately means is that the customer is one of the best sources of business, a to help you basically, uh, spread your brand, but also protects you against other kinds of disinformation as well. So when the customer has that much power, how can you look at it as like a pop in an unknown prospect at the top and a customer pops out of the bottom and then where do they go? Do they, you know, I love everyone’s funnel. I’m like, where does it go? Does it fall off the slide deck? Or, you know, is it sitting in a giant tub of customers?
Nicholas Holland (19:34): So our founders were a pretty clever in that. They said, well, you know what we’re ultimately trying to say is they’re the most important. So what if we put them in the center and everything we did basically revolved around them. And that was where the concept of basically turning a funnel into a flywheel. And I’ll say it plainly for the CMO, the joke is 50% of my marketing works. I just don’t know which 50%. And that means you have a lot of faith that your branding efforts will yield some upside. What we are saying is that you have to have a lot of faith, and it’s also easier to track that your customers can actually provide more value back in the top of the marketing funnel. Again, if you were to, I’ll give you a simple way to think of it as a CMO, you do business with somebody, let’s say you send out a net promoter score.
Nicholas Holland (20:28): Let’s say that you’ve got a string of, of responses. Now you’ve got, you know, some promoters, you’ve got some neutrals, you’ve got some detractors right off the bat with your promoters. If I could tell you everybody who loves your company right now, your brand, your service, et cetera. And I were to challenge you to say, what are the things that you can do to leverage that you could have an entire whiteboard day session on that. And then if I were to say to you, you’ve got a bunch of detractors and I’m actually going to predict the future that they’re going to bust your chops hard out in the market. How much is every negative review that’s out there worth for you to stop? How much is it for you to just simply pick up the phone and call them and try to see if you can make them happy?
Nicholas Holland (21:08): Like there’s real money there. But a lot of the marketers that we work with date, that’s a service issue. That’s a service team’s issue. And so they spend tons of time, always trying to go get net new attention, et cetera. And we’ve known this, you know, that’s one of the things too I remember about it. It was even in the eighties that you would even hear people say it’s easier to keep a customer than to win a customer. You’d hear people say that, you know, customers at the end of the day are great referral sources, but most, most, and I’m not even being dramatic. Most of the marketing leaders, I know today spend very little time thinking about the current customer and how to really leverage those. And I think that that’s what we’re ultimately trying to push into the market. And it’s hard. Listen, one of the reasons why other people don’t want to do that, you know, what are you going to do?
Nicholas Holland (21:58): Go over to somebody and be like, Hey, service team. Let’s try to wire up your random NPS survey system with your help desk system, with your knowledge-based system. Let’s wire all that up so that I can then have a shot at maybe remarketing to these people, et cetera. It’s just a nightmare. So people try to stay in their silos. Here’s my world that I can control. I can control ad span. I can control SEO. I can control marketing automation, good luck sales team, good luck service team. And that said, that’s what the flywheel is all about.
John Farkas (22:27): Yeah. So how have you seen that adoption as HubSpot’s put that forward, as it, as it’s worked in with your client base and as you’ve interacted with people in the market who are coming into the HubSpot understanding, how have you seen that play out?
Nicholas Holland (22:46): We’re seeing a bunch of things we’re seeing thematically pre economic crises and pandemic. Um, we’re seeing good uptick. You know, whenever you’re thinking about a natural innovation adoption model, you have early adopters. And then of course you moves mainstream. Then you have laggards. We’re seeing kind of that same thing from a results standpoint, in terms of the cost to acquire customers and LTV and things like that. Extremely strong. One of the things that’s unique about HubSpot, um, that I hope to keep with me, no matter what I do going forward is that they dog food, all of their own software. So everything that we build our own team uses. And so of course, we try to hire the best marketers in the world so that we can then hear them. You know, when they’re upset about the marketing platform, same thing with service, et cetera.
Nicholas Holland (23:36): But I think what’s fascinating is we still see a ton of people really still just struggling. I know sounds crazy, but just marketing automation like workflows. Yeah. Just like workflows. But I think at the CMO level, what I mean is we see a lot of CMOs still struggling with things like, I mean, this is the most simple one. Can I sit at the revenue table with the sales leader? And can I show the points I’ve put on the board? Hmm. That’s it, that’s it. You want it, you want to crack open a CMOs brain, ask them to sit down and have a Frank discussion about how much revenue they should get credit for versus the sales or versus the surface or who maybe is also, you know, doing stuff very difficult. That’s kind of the ultimate thing. And so what I think we’re saying is like a fascinating trend is some are struggling with marketing automation, not just trying to set up some email, drip nurturing, but I mean, marketing automation.
Nicholas Holland (24:35): So that effectively you have done excellent segmentation of your base. I mean, marketing automation. So that effectively you have seen a lift in your numbers because you have automated things at the right time, the right place, et cetera, automation, and that you’ve moved beyond email into. Now you’re conducting a journey across how does the website change automation in terms of, are you doing things in social and understanding stuff? Are you doing things in ads? And like, are you able to touch people across conversational marketing, across email, across browsing and unknown stuff? And if you go back about five, six years ago, I remember when I was looking at some of this stuff to build a solution myself, you’d hear a lot of people say like, Oh, we’re a Omni channel integrated, you know, all that stuff. And they were right. They were right by the way they were right.
Nicholas Holland (25:23): It’s just a bunch of fancy ass words that no one could understand at the time. And what I guess I’m saying now is remember how I told you all those marketers are just continually getting more and more sophisticated. Those people who were talking about that omni-channel stuff back then were right. The reality is though you needed an Accenture, you needed a Oracle or an SAP, and you needed a couple of millions of dollars to pull that off. And that’s just not the vast majority of businesses that are out there. And so now coming all the way down, we still see a ton of CMOs, et cetera, that just struggle with yeah. Multitouch revenue attribution. We see a bunch of CMOs that simply struggle with governance. I mean, how do you keep TMA and office a from screwing up team stuff. I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but if you’re all basically playing in the same swimming pool, you know, it’s very easy to basically create problems.
Nicholas Holland (26:22): And so having a really clean governance, a really clean dataset to be able to do multi touch revenue attribution, AKA has to be tied into with your CRM data. And we’re also seeing a bunch of marketers struggle with ABM. That’s another thing that we recently came out with and that I was really actually one of the people that were against ABM for a long time, because to get that subset of customers, we’ll say, if we’re going to work on a hundred customers together to get that most people couldn’t answer, how do you get that hundred customer contact stuff? Cause you’re not getting it legitimately. A lot of times, times you’re scraping LinkedIn, you’re getting business cards, you’re tricking receptionists. And what I found out over the last couple of years, there’s some really awesome ways that you can actually build target sets without being a black hat marketer and things like that. So anyways, all that being said, I think for the CMOs, the core is can you have a frank discussion about how much revenue you’re driving? And if you can’t, that’s where I would put a relentless amount of energy into.
John Farkas (27:20): So that’s moving in a good direction because that is talking directly about the changing role of the CMO, because attribution is becoming possible, right? It’s no longer a dark art of marketing. And you said 50% of my marketing works. I think a lot of marketing people would say, it’d be a lower number than that. And it just works really well. And it has been mysterious until fairly recently. The seat at the table for the marketing leader is transforming. It is becoming directly attributable to revenue it, and it has to be it’s needed to be that for a long time. So what are some of the forces? You know, we just talked about a set of them, but as you are looking at the horizon, what are some of the forces that are transforming the seat of the CMO and their role and how they integrate with the business of the business?
Nicholas Holland (28:13): You know, if you go back to, how did the title of COO emerge? You’re the Chief Marketing Officer you’re responsible for marketing marketing then becomes a loaded term in many organizations in marketing. Are you responsible for just getting leads and marketing? Are you responsible for driving revenue and marketing? Are you also responsible as crazy as it sounds for reputation management online, AKA the bleed that comes from that? So the definition of marketing is, is, uh, I think a bit in flux, then it gets even more fascinating in that we’re saying that let’s say you do adopt a concept where the customer is the center of all things. You then see an emergence of things like Chief Customer Officer, which is, I am no longer going to treat each of the things where we touch a customer as separate silos. You know, when I talk about the flywheel, when we talk about HubSpot’s growth suite, the desire is to create a continuous experience for your customers.
Nicholas Holland (29:20): That is really a disruption for your competitors. I mean, make no mistake. Uber was magical the first time you used it. And if you don’t remember it just trust me. You know, many people I’ve talked to her like, wait, I just got out of the car. That’s it, that’s all it is. I just get out. Uh, you know, when you buy your first mattress online versus going to the mattress store, many young people won’t even remember this, but when you buy your first mattress online and it comes in a box that you can actually lift, and then it pops out into a massive mattress. You’re like, this is amazing. I didn’t have to go rent a truck. And that is these buying experiences are what are upending, entire industries. And so to create that, can you do that by simply having everybody own their little piece and make sure that their teams work together? Hey Mark, make sure you go talk with Angus and you guys work together. And you know, Angus is like, ah, dude, Mark, I’m just trying to close some deals. Can you like stop trying to tell me about what’s my quality?
Nicholas Holland (30:25): You know, so that’s why you see an emergence of this Chief Customer Officer, because it’s somebody who says, look a Mark, Angus, John, like I get it. You’re all special snowflakes in your marketing sales and service org, but can somebody walk me through how this is happening across the entire journey? So I think CMOs are starting to emerge as chief customer officers. I think that you have to be a CMO that’s comfortable with the sales side of the business to do that as well. I think the other thing I think is really emerging now is that a with the CMOs, you guys all know this CMOs have become a larger and larger spender of IT budgets. So you’re kind of saying CMOs also masquerade to CIOs and a lot of situations, you know, the number of CMOs that have to literally spend time talking about data integrity and interoperability of the systems and where is the data Lake?
Nicholas Holland (31:16): And can I get a BI system on top of it? Like all these fancy terms, ultimately, what does the CMO trying to do is just trying to simply say like, I got to have good data to make good decisions, to ultimately know what’s working to have a seat at that revenue table. So the CMO is also now starting to become a part of the conversation of like business application management. That’s a fancy way of also saying like your team, no matter if you’ve chosen a platform like HubSpot or something else, you’re probably going to have many other integrations. Our customers on the CMO level side on the large side have over a hundred SaaS applications that they use in their organization. And so to connect those into your core platform requires a whole bunch of like, Hey, Jimmy wants to use this new system. Can we get it integrated?
Nicholas Holland (32:05): Oh, let me go check. Okay. Here’s how it’s going to integrate. Who gets permission with it or is this data go? So all of that is just, you know, if I’m a CMO nowadays, I try to stay focused and keep my eye on the prize, which is I’m extremely important to the overall customer journey. Nobody will think about the customer journey more than me because sales only has a particular moment in time. Service has a particular moment in time. Marketing is trying to basically glean value the whole way through. The second thing is, I’m trying to think to myself, how can I get this done as efficiently as if I’m a big CMO at a big company, then you’re going to be like, Oh, well, best of breed bring in Accenture and the checkbook, too. And the other CMOs are probably wondering my God, I need to get this done, but I also need a snowball’s chance in hell of pulling it off with my staff.
Nicholas Holland (32:58): And I think that that’s where we aren’t pretending to be the Oracles, SAP, or the Salesforce is. And so if you have a ton of money, ton of developers and you need that, you know, get after it, my man. But after that, there’s a big group of CMOs who say, you know, I just need a fighting chance with my team of 10 or so people to pull this off. You know, I’ve got a marketing department of 30 people. I can’t afford to even do a migration or a integration with a new system. Cause I can barely keep this stuff going right now. Those are the type of people that we think deserve to pull this off.
John Farkas (33:30): So Nicholas, as you are looking at the next two years from your seat and what you have purview over, what do you think is going to be possible in two years? That’s not possible now from,
Nicholas Holland: you know, talking about the whole idea of attribution talking about, Oh, a lot of those problems that we’re seeing persistent in a lot of ways what’s going to change in the next 24 months, we talked about the customer power is changing. I think that continues. We’re going to see an accelerated trend probably in customer channels, diversifying that’s actually a, an area that has a bit of a perplexing challenge for me is you’re seeing the emergence of these new communication platforms. Uh, Snapchat was the soup to Jor a couple of years ago. Now you, you know, people laugh and joke about tick tock being silly until now it crosses a hundred million people. You know, it’s like one of the things I think is really challenging as you get older is recognizing you’re just not your audience anymore. You know? And at the end of the day, you cannot judge the world through your own experiences and eyes cause the world is moving faster. So I think what we’re noticing is that the channels that you have to communicate are diversifying, changing, evolving.
Nicholas Holland (34:51): I think the other thing that’s really fascinating is the amount of data that’s at your fingertips is growing. So we’re seeing a, a couple of things you’re saying a lot of CMOs say, okay, got it, need a seat at the table. That’s where we’re going. But then that really actually cracks through a new horizon. They’re like, Oh my God, I do a lot more than what the system has given me credit for right now. I do offline events as an example, how do I go get credit for the offline events that we do? Or I use this system that maybe isn’t integrated with my particular platform? How do I do that? So I think getting all of your data at your fingertips is going to be a real challenge for the next, not even two years. I think it’s probably going to be more like a five-year challenge.
Nicholas Holland (35:34): And you’ll see some CMOs, in organizations are starting to talk about a CDP, a customer data platform. Here’s a fancy way of thinking about it in the past, you’d buy a marketing system and it would have a contact management portion of it. And those had varying degrees of sophistication. So if you’ll, you’ll see, like you could have a MailChimp all the way up to, you could have a HubSpot or you go all the way to an Eloqua. Then what you had is now the emergence of CRM is really big. And so a lot of marketers are understanding that they should tie in to the CRM. Now it’s just more data around the context. So would you rather have a list manager, uh, and a marketing system or would you rather have all the robustness of a CRM? Well, a lot of marketers are saying I should connect to the CRM, but there’s actually one level that’s happening below that, which is a CDP.
Nicholas Holland (36:27): So a CRM is almost like the visual layer to what could be over Tom, this massive CDP example and a CDP, that stuff that goes in there for example is a, where do you put your financial data about your customers? You know, where do you put things like all of their service stuff? Where do you put if they go to your webinar and they’ve watched no three webinars and they’ve watched two of them a hundred percent and another one of them, 25%, where do you put that? That is what I think is going to be a really hard trans. So keeping up with the channels, keeping up with the data that actually you touch. And then the last part is leveraging it. Uh, I’ll give one last story for every CMO here. Every CMO has thought about, we should do personalization. I’ve heard that for 10 years, personalization, personalization, personalization.
Nicholas Holland (37:14): But I bet if you were to take every CMO on here and say, you know, can you quantify it been, yeah. Hey, what do you do? A lot of them are going to be sheepish. Cause it’s going to be something like a, we use a first name token in emails, Hey Angus and Eric content, you know? Uh, and then some of them though, they even harder question. I’m like, you know, is it working? Does it work? And they don’t know that either. And so that’s one of my really big focuses personally is that I think we intuitively know that personalization works. I think very few people have been able to prove it. And that’s one of the things that, uh, I think a lot of marketers are going to have more ability to do going forward because the systems will make it easier for them.
Nicholas Holland (37:57): And that’s my challenge. You know, I don’t shame any of the CMOs. I ask them because I know their pain and I want to fix that. That’s not on them. It’s bananas hard to try to actually do personalization. Well, who do you want on your team a year from now or tomorrow that you don’t have on your team now? I think the advice I would have to the CMO is somebody has to think about the entire journey. This is a soft skill side. So that could be one of your existing people that could be a customer advocate. That could be something like that. We call them, go to market leads to basically think about, go to market stuff. So that’s a particular person you could put on there. And a simple way of looking at, as you put a go-to-market person on your team, their job is to remove all friction from the flywheel.
Nicholas Holland (38:49): That’s it. They have full cart blanche to run the entire org and man, what a fascinating role we have. Some of those in our org. Now the other one I think is really big is like an ops person. So a marketing ops person over time, it might end up becoming a global ops person. We talk about it sometimes as a rev ops person, but this is person who is less of the soft skills side, like the go to market, go into each department, making sure everybody works together. And the rev ops person is the person who’s actually mining the data. So they spend the time simply they’re proving it. Like their job is super simple. It’s like, you go to them and you say, am I driving? And like, can you show me my multitouch revenue attribution for everything that I do? And they’re like, I’ll be right back boss. And I’m like, I got this. And you’re like, where is that offline event we did last week. They were like, I’ll be right back boss. And over time they are a critical role to helping you answer those questions. So that’s what I think are the two things that are emerging.
John Farkas (39:44): Super good as we are looking at that horizon. I mean, clearly there is so much movement happening and so many transformations, all based, obviously all based around our ability to harness and make meaning out of data. And the intentional stewardship of that ends up being an essential task of the marketing engine. If you’re not doing it. I mean, I love that last, that last idea you brought out somebody whose job it is. Who’s intentional position. It is in the organization to drive meaning from what’s going on because they’re going to go after things differently than the people just trying to get responses, right? They’re going to ask for different kinds of structures and signal flows that will help show that
Nicholas Holland (40:31): I’ll give you a, I know we’re running long. I’ll give you one last story. So we get a GTM person who comes in. They have a single mission to remove friction from the buyer’s journey. And she comes to me and she goes, I’m expecting her to be like, uh, the handoff is bad here. Or the, the quote is confusing or, you know, we need to go to this area to get more leads. And she goes, my first recommendation is you need to fix reporting. And I’m like, Whoa, settle down Sparky. You’re telling me a product problem. That’s not your wheelhouse. And she was like, well, you said, where is the buyer’s friction? Our reporting sucks. And so I see us losing customers over it and I see us not winning customers. So what do you want me to do? And I was like, wow. So I use her.
Nicholas Holland (41:23): I was like, alright, let’s make a case. And so she went through and she showed everybody who was frustrated on the pre-purchase. She showed everybody who is frustrated post-purchase she went and got all of the, she made the entire business case. And I kid you not a mature bad-ass product org, like HubSpot said, you’re right. And we basically shifted our attention to it. And you know, this is like a year, a year or so ago. And our reporting is like a bajillion times better than it was. And like, the stuff we’ve got planned now is mindblowing. Yes, it is by the way. But at the end of the day, it goes off to this GTM person is convincing me that I need to stop thinking about all these micro things and go fix the biggest thing that our customers are having friction with. That’s awesome. In my opinion,
Mark Whitlock (42:10): If you weren’t taking notes during today’s podcast episode, don’t worry. We got you covered. We’ve got them for you. Just come over here to studiocmo.com/013 that’s studiocmo.com/013 for all the show notes, links and more. And here are three things to do when you get there. One Nicholas talked about the deck that gave you a window into HubSpot’s culture. We’ve got a link to that. Come here, studiocmo.com/013. Click out to that.
John Farkas (42:42): Daddy it’s worth noting here too, that I don’t think there’s another entity on the planet that has written more produced more and distributed free of charge, more information about what it means to be a marketer in the modern universe. HubSpot’s just done a phenomenal job of resourcing the marketing community and how to think and how to approach the new world order in marketing. And a, and if you haven’t looked into that, it’s certainly worth anything. You have questions about. There’s some really terrific resources and HubSpot’s ecosystem addressing it and kudos to you all for eating your own dog food. I like to think of it as drinking your own champagne.
Nicholas Holland (43:23): That’s true. I like that. I might actually adopt that. I used to say, Hey guys, we need to do this for whenever I get hit by a bus and someone messaged me privately and they were like a little dark. Can we say when you win the lottery? And so I’ve actually swayed. So maybe I’ll say drinking our own.
Angus Nelson (43:42): Yeah. Glad to make that culture switch.
Nicholas Holland (43:44): Thank you. Thank you. I guess.
Mark Whitlock (43:46): And we’ll link out to a lot of those resources, kind of our top five, uh, for what we love about HubSpot’s content and we’ll link to one of our own. One of the most popular downloads each and every week on golden spirals website is our “Complete Guide to Marketing Automation for B2B Tech” and Nicholas talked about the power of marketing automation and the reason why it’s got to be a part of what you’re doing at your company. So we’ll link to that as well. And finally, please subscribe to studio CMO. Nicholas has agreed to come onto our show about once a quarter and let us know what’s coming on the horizon and help us lead out toward the horizon of, and you don’t want to miss that nor do you want to miss Janet Matsuda coming up from Sysdig or Sean Byrnes from Outlier and so many more guests. Don’t miss a single episode of studio CMO. When you come to studiocmo.com/013, click the subscribe button on any page and find your favorite podcast app click through on your favorite podcast episode, that content will be delivered directly to your phone tablet, computer, whatever device you want.
Angus Nelson (45:01): Always remember, understand your buyer’s problems,
Mark Whitlock (45:04): lead with an empathetic understanding.
John Farkas (45:06): and make your customer the hero.
Nicholas Holland (45:09): Put the customer first, the customer first, the customer first,
Mark Whitlock (45:12): We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO.