One of several notable panelist at last week’s Flip My Funnel conference (read a good recap here), Adam’s insightful comments specific to ABM led me to open a dialogue with him about wider marketing-industry challenges. …and, of course, I always like to talk marketing with others who had very unusual paths to careers in marketing.
David: Can you tell us a little about your background and journey to CMO of LeanData?
Adam New-Waterson: I probably have an unconventional background for someone who is the chief marketing officer at a technology company.
I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art photography from Georgia State University. I never even took a marketing class in college. But I fell into a graphic designer position at a public relations firm in my hometown of Atlanta. And while I didn’t think of it this way at the time, that was my first marketing experience because the job included making restaurant coupons, advertisements and sending out blast emails to attract attention for our clients.
I didn’t begin to understand the art of marketing until I went to work for 3B Scientific, which specializes in training materials. The company implemented Marketo and essentially handed me the keys to drive it. That was a life-changing experience. I used to tell people that I got my MBA in Marketo. I was named to the initial Marketo Champions class and that led an online marketing manager position with a facilities management company called Planon, where I was based in The Netherlands.
When I came back to the United States, I joined big data company BloomReach as a marketing technologist. That’s where I began to see how Account-Based Marketing was becoming the next big thing in the B2B space. One of BloomReach’s partners is LeanData, and I always was impressed by the company’s software that automatically matches leads-into-accounts.
That’s why I said yes when LeanData’s Chief Executive Officer, Evan Liang, asked me to come aboard this spring. But I would have to say that the biggest reason for this journey is my personal motto: Never stop learning. I’m always trying to learn something new every single day.
Marketing is evolving at an unprecedented pace. What do you see as the biggest challenges/ opportunities marketers and marketing departments face today?
The biggest challenge that marketing currently is facing: Just keeping up. Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace. We must all keep our knowledge and skills up to date in order to keep up. Teams that don’t understand, internalize and utilize evolving technologies risk being left behind.
This is also the greatest opportunity for marketers. By harnessing the power of new technologies, teams can dramatically amplify their reach. At the same time, though, marketers must not lose sight of the true goal – the message of marketing.
What are a few key focuses you think every CMO should keep top of mind when facing these challenges?
Work your network. Align yourself with the earliest adopters to understand what new technologies are working – and which are just fluff. Beta test whenever you can. Find technologies that extend your influence, rather than simply sucking up your team’s time for small, incremental gains.
Get to a good place with data. You have to be able to swim without drowning. People can only analyze a certain volume of numbers at a time before becoming overwhelmed. Have your team report to you only the most important metrics – and those shouldn’t include Likes, Shares, MQLs or other vanity metrics. In-depth metrics should inform your team members of how to hypothesize, test, and experiment to improve their own work, but don’t get tempted to dive that deep into their data.
How do you see marketing tech shifting in the coming years? How will this affect the ways we understand and leverage data?
There has been an incredible boom in marketing technology over the last few years. It’s not just that companies are trying to solve problems with technology. It’s that they are also approaching the challenges from so many directions.
I think we’re heading toward some sort of large-scale consolidation in marketing tech. As some companies win and lose, we’ll see power grabs for the coolest technologies. New holistic marketing platforms will arise, created by the sum of many innovative smaller companies. They will begin to compete with the larger standard bearers like Oracle and Adobe to provide better services than some of their legacy product lines now offer.
We already know so much about our customer. I railed for years about data silos and how you had to merge your vast quantities of data into a single source in order to utilize it effectively. Sophisticated marketers are doing that now. They utilize massive data warehouses to aggregate all of their systems of record into a single place. Now, we’re all struggling to make sense of that much complexity in order to utilize it to create new and better marketing.
We can report the past really effectively. Where we need help is to more easily create new campaigns that learn, evolve and get smarter over time. It should be channel agnostic. Connecting the first time we ever interact with an individual and company right through their ongoing customer success and retention.
The market is ripe for some serious consolidation. Marketers are overwhelmed by the possibilities. Even if you do create an incredible stack, you’re logging into several disparate systems every day just to do the job. I think we’ll soon see more sophisticated systems that tackle all aspects of modern day marketing.
What is LeanData doing to tackle these issues internally and what do you have planned for the future?
LeanData is helping close the loop in flawed data to allow you to take easier action on the knowledge you already possess. Marketers using Salesforce struggle with their top-of-the-funnel efforts because someone has to manually convert a new lead to attach it to an account. They already know so much about the companies they’re targeting. But they can’t act on it in their other systems because of some arcane mentalities.
LeanData is helping our customers overcome dirty data challenges with our sophisticated algorithms. We’re able to easily customize our helpful actions to their specific business’ needs. We do this all without needing to clean and append data prior to getting started. We’re empowering marketers to be able to confidently take actions throughout their stack by overcoming their data challenges.