Demand Gen Report

The B2B CMO Balancing Act

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Brad Gillespie

Brad Gillespie


Demand Gen Report: How has the B2B CMO role changed/evolved in recent years?

Brad Gillespie: Being data literate was once something that marketing leaders could “outsource”’ to operations or the analytics team. Now, it’s a liability for the CMO to not have a firm understanding of the “data of marketing.” The rise of “CX” has presented marketing leaders with a tremendous opportunity to have a greater influence in the overall equation. I love it when CMOs get this responsibility as it’s ultimately the best measure of all the things that marketing brings to the party. One thing that hasn’t changed: we’re still trying to drive alignment with sales!

DGR: As expectations for driving revenue and growth increase, does that put CMOs at risk as potential scapegoats for failing to hit sales milestones?

Gillespie: I’m not sure that’s a particularly new phenomena — what elevates the risk is the expectation that marketing is more measurable than it’s ever been. As most marketing leaders know, there are many factors that determine whether marketing is as data-driven as they can be, some of which are out of the direct control of marketing. There’s always a balance between short-term and long-term priorities which are often at odds. What may help in the short term can often be something that’s not sustainable…that’s also not a new phenomenon…

DGR: In addition to increased pressure to drive revenue and show ROI, what are some of the other top challenges that CMOs are facing?

Gillespie: This is mostly situational, but one thing that all marketing leaders are dealing with are organization-related tasks. We’re spending massive amounts of time and energy on talent— acquiring it, developing it, measuring it and .retaining it. It’s almost a second job. It’s an essential task but can be very consuming.

DGR: Incorporating tech and aligning it with strategy has become a bigger imperative for marketers, but has the approach to technology changed for CMOs?

Gillespie: I see this as striking a balance of standardizing on core systems that are the bedrock of the stack — MAP, CRM, CMS, Events, CDP, etc. — while continuing to experiment with new tools that can create breakthrough opportunities — AI/ML, Conversational Marketing, Personalization, Direct Mail automation.

DGR: Which technologies do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs over the next year or two?

Gillespie: For me, it’s the CDP. I see this as foundational to the long-term strategy for tech, but it’s still opaque. The sooner we can standardize on data infrastructure, the sooner we can get to the value in the data.

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