Expert Interview and Podcast on Marketing
Margaret Dawson, the Chief Marketing Officer at Rival IQ and 20-year product marketing veteran, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. The series, hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
Dawson joined Buckner to share her insight on developing a competitive marketing strategy, and to discuss social media intelligence, competitive digital activities, and the future role data plays in marketing. And her love for Agile Marketing!
Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Question: What are the biggest challenges facing marketers today?
There are some challenges that I hear every day that I think are universal for marketers, including:
- Longer funnel
- Digital data
- Market differentiation
- Need for better marketing automation tools and software
One is the pure complexity of marketing. It’s not just about awareness, and thought leadership, and driving leads, and even qualifying those leads.
Marketing has become incredibly complex, covering multiple areas and disciplines.
A longer funnel through revenue and growth of base
There was a time where you qualified leads, you handed them to sales, then you were done.
That was the end of your funnel.
Now, you’re going all the way through. Not only do you have to show how each piece of marketing is having a direct business impact – meaning revenue – but you have to go beyond that to: Are your customers satisfied? Are you growing your base of revenue?
Big data and business intelligence
Marketers are also overwhelmed with data.
If you talk to someone that is a big data consultant, they will tell you their number one customers are marketing leaders or sales leaders, because we literally cannot consume the amount of raw data.
And it’s not just about the amount – it’s the fact that you can’t just throw data at me. I have to find intelligence from that, because I’m supposed to be making smart decisions based on the data to actually impact the business.
If I have terabytes and terabytes of data, how do I know what data is important, what questions I should be asking, how does it predict what customers are going to do next? There’s predictive elements, there’s competitive elements. It’s very, very vast.
That’s not just a marketer issue. I think businesses in general are overwhelmed with data, but marketers definitely feel that pain every single time.
Need for better tools
Because of these issues, there is a need for tools that make marketers jobs easier, more efficient and more intelligent. I want software and analysis that quickly shows me what is happening, so I can establish strategies and new actions. I need to have visibility into my end-to-end funnel. And I need to be able to get to the data I need, while keeping it secure.
So many traditional analytics tools are themselves too complex, so vendors need to think about how to help marketers cut through the mountains of data and content and make sense of it all.
Question: What are some best practices you use and recommend?
Margaret: I think too many marketers forget the critical foundational elements of marketing.
Market analysis and competitive intelligence
The process I usually go through starts with an analysis of the market and your competitors. Because if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, there’s no way for you to establish your strategy. And a lot of people miss this point.
You need to be able to provide competitive intelligence, that strategic input. So marketers, I think, can be at the table at the most strategic conversations. That’s what’s exciting to me.
Messaging and positioning
I have this positioning and messaging framework I’ve developed over the years that I use with every size company. It starts with, what is our vision and what is our mission, but, more importantly, what market are we in? You might have a differentiation in that market that is just yours, but you need to identify your market.
Then it’s questions like, what is the challenge customers have? Why does this market exist, basically? What is the challenge and how are they solving that challenge today? And then why would they come to you instead of somebody else? Then who are those somebody else’s? All of that needs to be a part of your product strategy, your market strategy, your positioning, your messaging, and then that flows into, “Okay. So what are we going to focus on?”
You’re learning: who is our customer, where are they? Who are our competitors? Where are they? Somehow, that should all be fine tuning the channels you’re going to focus on. You may choose to focus on a channel where your competitors aren’t but your customers are so you can own it.
Agile marketing processes
I like to talk about what I call “agile marketing,” and it’s taking a lot of those lean principles on agile methodologies, and then applying them to the discipline of marketing.
You’re doing these things, but you’re also saying, “We’ve got enough information now. Let’s base our basic strategy on that. Let’s move forward.” But then you’re doing these iterative improvements and constantly using data to tweak your strategy, tweak your tactics, to further improve and go through that cycle again.
Embracing the new marketing of data, math and analysis
It’s interesting because there are so many things in marketing now that I think can resemble what used to be a very development-centric philosophy, so to speak. I think that marketers need to be more technical, they need to understand math. There’s times I spend half of my time in Excel either analyzing data or doing budgetary elements in a spreadsheet.
People in college will always ask me, what’s one thing I should study? I’ll say, “Data science, or math.”
And they say, “No, no, no. I’m majoring in marketing. Did you miss that point, that I’m majoring in marketing?” I’m like, “Uh-huh. Data science, and math.”
Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. You can also subscribe to just the marketing automation category. This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.