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Chief Marketing Officer
A Certified Public Accountant, this scrappy start-up marketer has taken his finance background and applied it to the marketing world to become what every CMO today strives to be: A Growth-Driver. Currently serving as the CMO for SAP Customer Experience, the world’s business software market leader and 17th largest brand in the world, he is responsible for all aspects of marketing strategy and execution, helping SAP connect with new audiences and lead in the competitive customer experience category.
From CPA, to financial consultant, to pre-sales manager, to product-marketer, this numerate CMO leverages his finance background combined with experience in business intelligence and advanced analytics to drive marketing initiatives that create real business impact. His focus on providing a clear and consistent customer experience combined with his ability to measure the effects of marketing activities has provided him the freedom to push the boundaries of marketing, but before experimenting with any new strategy, his first step is always to establish a framework to measure success.
The increasingly prevalent role of “Chief Growth Officer” is forcing an evolution of the role of the CMO: CMOs are now being held responsible for identifying new audiences and areas for growth on both B2B and B2C environments, for measuring that growth and for doing it in a way that is cost-effective.
“As marketers who are now expected to be growth drivers, we need to make sure we prove our value to the business,” he says. “Having a framework in place to measure and manage the impact that marketing has on the company ensures CMOs be in lock step with the CEO. That transparency gives us the discretion to then experiment and measure our activities against expected outcomes.”
Being financially savvy has afforded him the trust of the various executives he has served to have a large discretionary budget. “Marketing is becoming increasingly complex, and from everything from lead scoring to pipeline progression and velocity to hitting your target to conversion rates, you really need to be numerically-literate to do this job. By understanding the impact of our marketing spend and tracking that to growth outcomes, I am given much more freedom to experiment with new strategies.”
For B2B SaaS-based software companies like SAP, marketing success is determined by a consistent customer experience from acquisition to renewal. “We start thinking about renewal rates halfway through the sale cycle, because in a SaaS-based business, if you're not renewing, you're going to go out of business,” he says. “At Gigya, where I served as the SVP of Marketing from 2015 through the acquisition by SAP in 2018, we had an over 90 percent renewal rate, which we achieved because we were thinking about a full customer lifetime value and deployment before the deal was even closed.”
Now serving as the CMO at SAP Customer Experience, he has taken the success he achieved at Gigya to ensure that he is tied into each point in the customer journey, from who is involved, to customer training and enablement, to ensuring a consistent message and story across the entire journey.
“First and foremost, the CMO must ensure there is a defined and differentiated message that will resonate in the market,” he says. “Second, CMOs must permeate that message across the entire organization, and ensure that from initial promise to implementation, there is a consistent value proposition driven across every touchpoint.”
“It is my duty to ensure that the promise we made as marketing team before our customers even made that first connection to us will be fulfilled, and that expectations are met all the way from the start of the journey to renewal,” he says. “If the sales team comes in with a different promise than marketing, customer experience will be poor. Likewise, if the front line dealing with the customer is not properly trained on the full spectrum of customer experience, we are not delivering on our promise. Every single person needs to fulfill the expectations marketing set forth to the customer.”
He says today’s CMO needs to be numerate, technology-savvy and creative to be the full package. But while he is heavily focused on the former two, creativity oftentimes needs to be put in service of consistency and tenacity of picking a creative and differentiated approach and then ruthlessly sticking with it. “We need to hit on a creative approach and novel market message and then repeat it until we are all tired of it…but remember that for customers and prospects it is probably the first time they are hearing it.”
Having his first experience at Cannes this year, he was blown away by the strategy behind so many creative ad campaigns over the last year and the real business impact those ads can have. But while creativity helps brands stand out and create a statement, he implores his team that in order to do the “fun stuff,” you have to make sure you have the right business foundations in place and stick with a consistent message over time.
“We’re spending a lot of time understanding the full customer journey, how marketing is supporting that and what KPIs are significant in measuring success for the business,” he says. “Once those elements are in place, the creativity can come in. We need to be able to measure success to drive the business forward and then consistently message the shiny marketing stuff to gain customers and get renewals.”