CMO Huddles

Beyond Branding: How Tech CMOs Drive Marketing’s Revenue Goals

June 11, 2024 1:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“I can never use the words ‘brand’ or ‘brand awareness’ with other execs” lamented a CMO at a $125 million SaaS company. Then another SaaS CMO shared, “It’s the same thing at our company, ‘brand-spend’ is considered the fluffy stuff that doesn’t drive revenue.” These are not isolated incidents.

You could visit hundreds of marketing departments from San Franciso to San Jose and never actually hear the word “brand.” It’s not that tech marketing leaders don’t believe in brand, it’s just that most have to disguise their efforts. Allow me to offer a theory on how we got here.

Many CMOs now divide their marketing budgets and departments into Revenue Marketing or Performance Marketing and everything else. An innocent word choice, right? Who doesn’t want marketing that is focused on revenue or performance? Certainly, CEOs, CFOs, CROs, and investors all seek more revenue. So far, so good.

But what does that mean for the rest of your marketing department? That they aren’t working to drive revenue or improve performance. That they are doing the “fluffy stuff.”

When I press CMOs on this they explain their Revenue/Performance teams are focused on deploying direct response vehicles (i.e. paid search, content syndication, webinars, etc.), capturing leads, and nurturing these leads into opportunities and ultimately, pipeline. They do this with a lot of technology, constantly testing and optimizing. When it’s working, it’s measurable and even scalable. The outcome is fine. It’s the word choice that’s problematic.

Why not just call this part of your marketing “demand capture?” Because that’s really what’s happening. Buyers already in the market for your product or service are metaphorically raising their hands and saying, “It’s okay for you to engage with me about your service.”

As for the 95% who aren’t even thinking about your product or category? What about them? What are you doing to generate interest? To help them recognize a problem they didn’t know they had? To get them to see that the gain of change is worth the pain of change? Or just to generate awareness of your service before the salesperson calls? Or to differentiate your offering from your competitors? What are you going to call that kind of marketing?

One simple solution for those fearful of sounding fluffy is to call the rest of your budget “demand creation.” That’s what you’re doing. Hopefully. Now, both parts of your budget focus on demand (generating it and capturing it). This opens the door for you to put the MARKET back in MARKETING. And creating markets is the domain of great CMOs.

Word choice matters - especially for budget components. If “brand” is a dirty word at your org, leave that fight to the pundits. Just don’t create a trap for yourself by designating one part of your budget as revenue-related. The reality is that the components of your budget work together, like instruments in an orchestra, often intertwined and inseparable.

Written by Drew Neisser

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