My CMO 2.0 Conversation with Ram Menon was an enlightening one, and definitely another conversation with some real teachable moments. Ram is a no-nonsense marketer with a great deal of common sense.
Ram has an interesting take on the changes in technology marketing. He believes that the 90’s spoiled technology marketers. There was an unprecedented technology boom with plenty of IT budgets to go around, so as a technology marketer the only thing you had to do was set up a pretty web site, put out some collateral and declare victory. In the last few years however, budgets disappeared, technology buyers became disillusioned with technology solutions, and new technologies turned traditional marketing on its head. Consequently, the marketers who did not keep pace are finding themselves in tough times.
One of Ram’s interesting points of view is that bonding is the new branding. You have to bond with 1000’s of people, and at any time…you can no longer plan for a launch, come up with nice messaging, launch and then forget about things until the next launch. In todays world we are facing launches that are on 24/7 and that require ongoing bonding to all of our constituencies.
Marketers need a good understanding of the technologies that are at their disposal to allow them to become better marketers. While he does not see much of a change in the type of people they hire in marketing, that is probably due to their culture of focusing on hiring people who are smarter than you – not necessarily people who have a lot of past experience. For Ram, past experience is no indication of future success.
We also talked about the fact that even though the number of different value propositions for different buyers keeps increasing and that the channels through which you can reach those buyers keeps multiplying, his job as a marketer has in fact become easier and cheaper. The main reason for that is that the most important conversations are no longer the ones you have with your customers and prospects, but instead those that happen among them.
That led to an interesting follow up conversation on their use of communities. They run both a customer community as well as a sales community. Early on they realized that by providing a platform for customers to talk with one another and to help one another, they could in fact make their own job easier. Plus it allowed them to reduce their cost of customer support in the process. They also understood that for the community to work, they needed to be ready to engage – so they encouraged all their engineers to engage with their customers through the community. On the sales side things, they found the same forces at work. By giving sales people a platform in which to help one another, they found that sales professionals started to actually do that across geographic boundaries. Not only that, they started modifying marketing materials and mashing up content to make it work for micro-segments that marketing could not have served in a cost effective way. In effect, they turned their sales process into a social process.
Of course we could not have had a conversation with the CMO of a technology provider who markets a sales and marketing analytics solution without talking about marketing measurements. As we have seen in previous CMO 2.0 Conversations, one of the most important metrics for Ram is customer loyalty. And while they are very metrics-driven, which could in some cases stifle innovation, they support marketing innovation through a dedicated marketing R&D budget.
Other things that we discussed include:
- Offshoring marketing
- How they use social media as part of marketing
- Integration between marketing and customer service
- The issues related to letting go of control
- The need for marketing to formalize sales enablement
- The shift from physical events to virtual events in the marketing mix
As usual, you can listen to the podcast on the CMO 2.0 site and we will be posting the transcript soon.