Demand Gen Report: How has the B2B CMO role changed/evolved in recent years?
Elle Woulfe: The B2B CMO needs to be a much more balanced marketer than ever before. The expectation for today’s B2B CMO is that they are equally right and left brained and possess a strong business acumen. It’s not enough to just be analytically minded or to just be creative — you need to really be the whole package as B2B companies wake up to the fact that brand is just as important as demand.
DGR: As expectations for driving revenue and growth increase, does that put CMOs at risk as potential scapegoats for failing to hit sales milestones?
Woulfe: Yes, and it should. If CMOs aren’t held to the same standards of revenue creation as sales leaders, there will always be an imbalance and antagonism between the two disciplines. Sales and marketing should both be on the hook for growth and therefore need to be incredibly synchronistic with shared goals and accountability.
DGR: In addition to increased pressure to drive revenue and show ROI, what are some of the other top challenges that CMOs are facing?
Woulfe: There’s a lot of great marketing talent out there, but right now, the market is incredibly competitive, so attracting the best talent and building performance-oriented teams can be difficult. CMOs are also faced with an increasing amount of priorities they need to balance. There are so many examples out there of great branding at B2B companies that is helping shift the focus from math and science marketing that’s been popular the last several years to more traditional elements of messaging and brand building, leaving CMOs with more to juggle.
DGR: What do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs in the coming years?
Woulfe: With unemployment at all-time lows, CMOs will need to focus more on talent retention and be smart about how they structure their teams for efficiency, productivity and employee engagement. I also think there is a shift happening in terms of the marketing tech stack to a “less is more approach,” and CMOs will need to be more informed than ever about their technology investments and what they really need to achieve the desired outcomes.
DGR: Incorporating tech and aligning it with strategy has become a biggerimperative for marketers, but has the approach to technology changed for CMOs?
Woulfe: Yes, absolutely. I think the party is over when it comes to massive marketing infrastructure budgets. CMOs are under a bit of a microscope when it comes to how they’re investing in technology and how much of their tech stacks they are actually using. The knee jerk reaction to buy a tool to solve a problem is giving way to a more thoughtful and creative approach to achieving results without a million pieces of tech.
DGR: Which technologies do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs over the next year or two?
Woulfe: Some of the tech that blurs the line between marketing and sales will be a strategic imperative. Tools that make marketing outputs actionable for sales and really help the sales team be more efficient and productive will become of greater importance to marketers.