Clive Armitage (00:10):
Hi, everyone. So I’m delighted to be here with Mark Wilson, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at Blackberry.
Mark Wilson (00:16):
Clive, great to join you. Yeah, it’s been great working with you over so many years. Very happy to be doing that.
Clive Armitage (00:23):
We don’t want to stress how many years it is, because it’ll make people realize quite how old we are, but linked to that, you’ve been a long time CMO veteran in Silicon Valley and actual length of your tenure compared to the average length of a CMO’s tenure in Silicon Valley, really impressive. You tend to stick around and build the function out, which is to your credit. How do you think that role of the CMO over the years has changed? Has there been significant change since you first took a role as CMO?
Mark Wilson (00:51):
For the CMO I think the biggest change is the digitization of marketing. So even when I started in marketing, it was digitizing marketing and doing… They called it database marketing and one to one marketing. All of that has just continued on throughout my tenure. So that digitization has only gotten better and better, and as the systems and platforms have gotten better, the results have gotten better. So I think that has really been probably the biggest change that I’ve seen. On the side of it hasn’t changed at all is at the end of the day, the true north is who is your customer? What do they care about? What’s their burning need? How do you address that burning need in a unique way? How do you show that? I think that hasn’t changed at all.
Mark Wilson (01:39):
So I think that it’s been kind of interesting, and I think probably the only thing that’s changed on the positioning is I’d say long ago people would talk about features and functions. And then I think we began to evolve and talk about… We really started to move into talking about outcomes. So we went features and functions, then everybody was talking about benefits, but now everybody’s just talking about outcomes. And I think in time, everybody will be talking about guaranteed outcomes or something that gives you… You have equity in an outcome where it’s a guaranteed outcome. I think that’s been a big change, but other than that, much of the marketing has been the same.
Clive Armitage (02:15):
But do you think that ability to be more predictive and drive outcomes has meant that marketing, in terms of strategic importance to an organization, has got more important and has more of a right to be at the top table talking about growth strategies?
Mark Wilson (02:31):
100%, yes. I think the expression that I think I deplore, and I think all of my colleagues deplore is, and I don’t even know if it’s used anymore, is 50% of my advertising works, I just don’t know which 50%. Oh my God. That’s like fingernails on the chalkboard. I think all of that has changed where… I think this is a journey and I don’t think we’re done yet, but I think the ability to say, “Okay, you need to generate $500 million in pipeline this year. What are you going to do?” I think that marketers are much better at being able to describe that plan and deliver that plan than they were in the past. So then all of a sudden they become more strategic in terms of it’s not just an ad, but it’s actually getting to pipeline. And then there’s an idea of how much of that pipeline will convert.
Mark Wilson (03:23):
I also think the marketers are more strategic in terms of looking at the landscape of competitors. So we do a lot of competitive analysis and it’s because all that data is right at our fingertips. So where we might have done competitive analysis as an ad hoc thing once a year, competitive analysis is now a core of our QBRs within marketing. So all the marketers are more so looking at an outside in of, “Okay, what’s the competitive landscape, who’s doing what, what’s our share of voice, what are we doing… What’s our share of voice across earned media, owned media, social media, thought leadership, all these different elements. And I find that that is… I find it refreshing, because it’s not just saying, “Okay, let’s run a program,” but let’s understand in the context of our competitive landscape. I think that’s very different than what people did 20 years ago.
Clive Armitage (04:20):
And linked to that, also an account centric approach to marketing. You’ve got all of that data on the account, the audience you want to reach. Presumably you guys are vested in that in terms of an account centric approach to going to market.
Mark Wilson (04:32):
Without a doubt. For certain markets that we go in, we spend a lot of time on… As probably everybody, the personas, the buying groups. And not just knowing them in an abstract way. So I think in time everybody used to put up a photo of somebody that was the hypothetical person. I think today, everybody puts up the LinkedIn photo of what the person actually is. They don’t use the hypothetical stock photography of what that person might be. And I find that that just makes it much more real. Or you look at the account and it’s no longer this abstract of, “Yeah, you need to talk to this person or this person.” You actually know exactly what that person is. And then you actually know their career path of every company they’ve worked at, where they live, all through data. So I find that it’s a much more real conversation and it’s a lot less open to interpretation.
Clive Armitage (05:24):
But that conversation, then, is that breaking down that traditional divide of sales, and you’re having conversations around the needs of the account with sales in a much more constructive way, because you basically center on that person from LinkedIn and say, “This is what we need to do jointly to crack that buyer.”
Mark Wilson (05:42):
This is what we do. I mean, for us when we go after… And it depends, like for certain markets, we won’t do account based marketing, if it’s a mass market or mid-market. Other markets we absolutely will, and it’s exactly that way, which is we will go in and say, “Hey, here’s the…” We’ll work with sales to say, “Here’s what the profile is. Here’s the buying group.” And we’ll do that more at an abstract way to say here’s typically what the buying group in this market is, who are all the roles? We’ll work with sales on who are the actual individuals by name. They’ll also confirm, “Hey, for this account, the buying group’s a little bit different. You also need to include this person.” But then they also don’t necessarily have all the information. So we’ll go out and augment that information through.
Mark Wilson (06:25):
And then once you have that, then we absolutely drive a program of things that we do from an awareness perspective of how do you get an ad in front of them? How do you make sure they’re coming to your events? What are events that are like digital events, like webinars versus what are high touch events like city tours or what are like bespoke events for specific accounts? All of that then then gets executed from that.
Clive Armitage (06:45):
So we’re painting a picture here of marketing entering a golden age where it’s more predictable, where we have influence from a growth perspective at the C-suite, and our sales colleagues are learning to love us, is that fair?
Mark Wilson (07:00):
I don’t know if I like the expression of golden age, because I feel like that means it’s at the end, it’s like…
Clive Armitage (07:03):
Look forward for me and tell me what you think the next year or so looks like, or next couple of years looks like for marketing in terms of its development?
Mark Wilson (07:13):
So where I think this goes, and I’d say my pet peeve is… We automate a lot of this. What I want to see is the question, you’re at the beginning of the year, you’re doing your planning, and you say you need to generate $500 million of pipeline. Today, what we do is basically we dust off the plan from last year, which was dusted off from the year before, which was dusted off from the year before, and then we tweak it from there. And I’m obviously generalizing. I think all that should be automated. If somebody says, “Hey, I need $500 million of pipeline,” I should be able to push a button and it’ll look at all the tactics I’ve run in the last year, along with all the tactics that everybody else has run in my peer group.
Mark Wilson (08:02):
It should then say, “Hey, if you want to generate $500 million of pipeline, it’s going to cost you this amount of money, you should have this mix of tactics, which is this mix of what an engagement strategy should look like, which in this market, it should be seven touches, ten touch, whatever you want to do.” And prioritized by these touches are worth more than those touches and all that stuff. So it should lay out an engagement strategy. And you should have a cost of what it is. And that cost should be split by media program versus creative program. All of that should be a button that then gets you 85, 80, 90% there.
Mark Wilson (08:38):
And then you tweak it from there to say, “Does this make sense or not?” What that means is that you then focus on the part that is the hardest, which is know your customer, know their burning need, address it in an interesting way, and come up with a compelling message. And then push the button for all of how you’re going to roll it out in terms of those plans. I feel like marketers spend way too much time on building out the plan and getting the right media program or whatever. All that stuff, it’s wasted like that. That should be timed, that should be automated. And then reinvest that time into something that is more valuable.
Clive Armitage (09:16):
I mean, it sounds a great vision. In fact, that sounds like a brief, I’m going to give our innovation team back in Agent3. The brief to go build for you. But look, it’s great to talk to you, Mark. Thanks as ever for your perspective. Super interesting. Congrats on your tenure in Silicon Valley as a CMO. Truly inspiring stuff. So thanks, and we’ll speak again soon, no doubt.
Mark Wilson (09:38):
Excellent. Good talking, Clive. See you.