Why Marketing Leaders Aren't Taken Seriously (& What to Do About It)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

 In this episode, we talk to Mark Stouse, Chairman & CEO of Proof Analytics & Host of Accelerating Value on Apple Podcasts. 

...mhm Welcome back to be to be growth. I'm Logan Lyles with sweet fish media. I'm joined today by Mark stoops. He is attack CMO turned software ceo. He's currently the chairman and Ceo at proof analytics. He's also a podcast host of the Accelerating Value show. Mark, Welcome to the show. It is fantastic to have you here today sir. It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely. Well we're going to we're going to get more into your background as we go through the conversation today because really what we're talking about today is that CMos and marketing leaders really need a shift in their perspective. Um Oftentimes that they're, they're not able to get that outside view of what their role really is and how they can best serve their Ceo and best served their organizations. So tell us a little bit about how you came to view the CMO and marketing leadership roles differently over, you know, especially uh recent years in your career. I got beat up quite a bit. Right. Um, I think that if we go back safe to like 2004, so I'm, I'm, I'm an hp. I'm leading the role in one of the four big business units. And I'm working a lot with Mark Hurd, who was the Ceo of HP at that time, went on to be the CO Ceo of oracle before. Unfortunately he passed away. Mark was a former sales guy, very customer facing Ceo and he would sit there and say, you know, I probably have more anecdotal evidence of the business impact that you're creating than you do, but that's not good enough if you're going to ask me for a lot more money or if you're going to ask me to protect you from a budget cut, which at HP meant a lot of times at board level conversation. He's like, I'm not, I'm not doing that without some analytics without some proof, small p proof. And you know, I I uh I remember being very frustrated about that. He was also, you know, I I don't really mean this badly. I mean I I think it was inappropriate, but nevertheless there he could really get in your face. I mean like literally in your face and there were a couple of times when he backed me up against a wall physically, you know, because he was really hot about this issue and and you know, it took me a while to kind of come around, but I what I really realized is that just like anything else, we don't get to define our own value, right? We may actually really truly be creating a lot of value. But if we're not able to...

...prove it, if we're not able to help people see it clearly, then it doesn't exist in one sense, right? And so that's where I really started down a different path and I started saying, okay, what do I need to do to earn this person's trust? Not only in my abilities, but in my perspective and in how it how they ultimately come on board with what I'm doing right, I mean, it's not unlike a company that says, okay, we're gonna give the market, we're gonna give our investors annual guidance and then we're gonna come along every quarter and we're going to give a report out against that guidance. That's ultimately what makes the street trust you or not trust you in terms of your execution. And it is exactly the same. Not only for CMos, but any part of the business. That's a good analogy. And I think, you know, you hit on the premise there, that just because your trusted and respected, you were you were trusted as a CMO at that point, you it's not that you had a horrible relationship even though it physically got in your face at times and got upset, you know, when you were asking for more budget, but disconnecting that from, I need to be able to show the value that I'm driving. So I want to point that out as we talk about, you know, that pivotal point for you, Mark what really what really changed from there. So it was it was specifically there was there's one situation you shared with me where you were asking for an increase to the budget, it really got heated and then you you know, you took that to reflect on, okay, am I really making the case here and showing my value, proving my value um when I'm coming into these budget conversations, is that right? That's kind of the turning point there. And if I'm, if I'm right there, what we're kind of the next steps for you and your evolution as a marketing leader coming out of that. I mean, at that point I think, you know, I was probably pretty much just like any other marketer that's ever lived right in terms of my perspective on stuff. You know, I was I defined my excellence uh in many ways based on my team's ability to orchestrate campaigns and to do that flawlessly. Keeping, keeping in mind, you know, this is like 15, 16, 17 years ago, but orchestration has always been really important to marketers, it's important today and it's I'm not saying it's not important. What I'm saying is that that's all you've got, you've got a problem. And what I also started to really realize is I started really paying attention to how much politics I was having to play with the C suite because one of the things I started kind of figuring out, I had, I had a...

...coach, great coach at that time is there's an inverse relationship between how much politics you have to play in order to make people happy and all that kind of stuff as a CMO and the amount of data or analytics that you can bring to the table. So the more proof, small p proof that you have, the less you have to kiss somebody's ass. That's really what it comes down to. And so I started really kind of rocking that um, with deeper and deeper and deeper levels. Um, and and then at the same time I was I was being schooled literally right in and how analytics really works right. like so if you wanted to do this, how would you do it? And then what are the obstacles and what are the advantages and what can you do? And what can you, what we struggle with and all that kind of stuff. and the ensuing 10, 15 years was all about working that out operationally, which is actually the big hurdle for a number of reasons. So you mentioned there are a lot of marketing leaders, mark that, look at, okay, my ability to pull off great campaigns and as you mentioned over the last, you know, several years, that's changed in what's doable and what it takes and all those sorts of things and the, the tech is different. But um would you say that even with the advanced technology and marketers being able to do more with less, they still kinda have that old mindset of man. If I'm pulling off campaigns and orchestration is happening, then I'm successful. You think that's still in a lot of marketers minds front and center today? Yeah, I mean I see it a lot still to this day. I think also if you are wearing the badge of honor, wearing this phrase right, doing more with less as a badge of honor, with all the respect in the world, you have missed the point. You're supposed to be doing less with less and more with more. Um and I don't know a business leader personally who when, when uh presented with the proof, that's something whatever that is, is accelerating their business, growing their business, making their business better in meaningful ways that they don't want to invest more in that thing. I mean, they would be crazy not to. Now, there is a point, right? There's an S curve, there's an optimization curve. And you know, at some point you you hit the where the point of diminishing returns kicks in, right? But most, most marketing teams are very far from that point. So if you can deliver the proof that you are really contributing and predictably say, and if you give me more, I can do more and I can bring you...

...further up this curve assuming that your company can afford it, they're going to do it. And so I think a lot of cmos, I was certainly in this, in this uh place, big time. I had been beaten around the head and shoulders on this issue for so long. I had, you know, the budget issue, the budget cuts, they're very rare and small budget increases. That I lost sight of the fact that this is true, right? That people want to invest more in things that are going to get them more and what they want to prove it. Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, that obviously set you on, well maybe not obviously, but you and I know each other and I know that that you know set you off on the path towards what you guys knew. And now at proof analytics, tell us a little bit mark about what did you start to do? So you have this shift and said I really need to be able to prove my impact historically and even better if I can more confidently forecast and predict my impact with greater budget, then I'm really going to be in a much better position of not being looked down on as a marketing leader, but actually being looked to for advice, look looked to for solutions. Right? So how did you start to make that shift, you know, at the next stop in your career? What were some of the things that you did differently after you made this mental shift? Well, I mean, I have to say that initially it wasn't the most fun I've ever had, right? But but I I may I started to make it all about the analytics. I was I was really pretty rigid for a while because I could tell that while a lot of C suite people and other people, other business leaders liked me. I thought I was really good at what I did, right? That wasn't the same as trusting me. I don't mean trusting me as a person. I mean trusting me that, that this is, you know, that I'm maximizing value, right? That's really what I mean. So it really kind of hurt my feelings to be perfectly honest with you. And then it kind of pissed me off. And so I think a lot of the last 15 years for me has been a quest for that thing, right? That trust that confidence, right? And the awareness of what marketing um could really do that that for the rest of it was sort of like a given, right? I mean, I could do the rest of it. I could build teams that did the rest of it, but it was so I believe that out of all the jobs in a modern organization that marketing is right up there at the top...

...in terms of being awesome and yet it has the longest running feud with the business that that exists. I mean it's it's so well known and so lingering that there are huge punch lines between business leaders about it. Right. Right. So, I mean, what you're saying is you're kind of tag line right of tax CMO turned software ceo doesn't mean that you're anti marketing. Not at all. Not at all. I I um I mean look, let me just I'll be really candid about it. Right. I mean if if proof analytics was mainly about if if a customer brought in proof analytics as a tool and the most common outcome was that it showed that marketing was a bunch of bunk is not only would that not be a really going concern is business, but that would really suck. Right? I mean that's not fun. The cool part about it is and and if there's a headline here, the headline is this In the absence of analytics for the most part outside of CPG and retail and stuff like that. Most marketers have correctly intuited what works. Right. So we're talking about kind of like you go in there, it's kind of a classic 80, 20 split. So 20% of its not really performing or its underperforming or whatever. And you can identify it and you can fix it Right? And you get to a point where you're rapidly optimized not only among your marketing envelope, but against whatever market conditions you are having to deal with. Right? And if we saw anything out of 2020, it's that past is not prologue. It's not and data is all about the past. Right, analytics is what takes the data and runs projections that then you can confirm as the future becomes the present, Right? So that is that's really what this is all about. And you know, I have it's kind of interesting because when we go in and we talked to finance, for example, the finance guys always get what we do. They always get the product immediately, right? Because they're sort of trained to do that. And then you can kind of see this little glimmer in their eye, right there like sitting there going, oh, this is gonna be so great, right? We're gonna finally put the screws to marketing, right? And, and then the and the marketers are not real happy about this. And then the first analytics rollout and the mark, the finance team is sitting there kind of going, huh, This is actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be. What's the, what's the percentage breakdown? Is it half the time finances is surprised and marketing is like, look, see or is it 90% of like what's...

...the breakdown that it goes this way? I would say, I would say it's, you know, again, the exception would be things like e commerce and anything where marketing is revenue, Right? So that would be a separate situation. But anything else, I would say it's damn near 100% right where everyone is shocked. And and if the truth is, you know, if we can just kind of be truthful for a second that marketers are shocked to, well, that's what I almost said something. And you know about, you know, the marketers either breathing a sigh of relief or I think I said, you know, they see. But I almost hesitated. Like that's probably not necessarily what they're saying, even if they are breathing a sigh of relief and they're excited about what they see. So they're a little bit surprised as well, at least in your experience going through this process of peeling back the curtain for financial market. Well, if they, so if they, so I think that they wouldn't be as freaked out sometimes if they were confident. So uh one of the best video calls I ever got right was from a CMO uh really great lady who calls me up on facetime, right? And she's sitting in her office smoking a cigar. No kidding, right. I mean for real, she's smoking a cigar and she's celebrating the first crank out of the analytics from proof. And, and she's like, you know, um, bottom line is, I didn't know for sure, but she goes, I'm so excited that in the absence of all of this, that you've brought to the table that we got it as right as we did, right? And she was, she was probably in the upper echelon, right? She was kind of like more like 85, 15, almost 90 10 in terms of getting her spinned correct. Right? And so I just think that that's that's one of my favorite parts of this whole thing. Right. And I think that a lot of people see analytics and they see the C suite as a bunch of judges in black robes, right? Who are basically saying you suck. Right. And it doesn't, I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. I mean I, my last big CMO role was at Honeywell, Honeywell Aerospace. My whole comp package was tied to the analytics that we brought to the table and I did really well on that. Right. And so I would, I would encourage everybody to say to themselves, you know what, maybe it's time that we actually did something different, Right? And it's not about, hey, I'll sell you...

...a license, right? It's about, I can, I can transform the level of enjoyment or I can't, but the analytics will, will transform the level of enjoyment you get from your profession. Certainly sounds like it from that facetime video that you've got, that Facetime call. That's fantastic. Well speaking of doing things differently, Mark, if you were a CMO today and for cmos or marketing leaders listening to this, what would you recommend that they do differently? There were a couple of things as you and I have chatted before that I think are worth mentioning here, uh spending more time with the C suite, which you kind of alluded to there. They're not these judges in black robes, You need to change your perception. Um, and then not giving up on a Ceo that quote unquote doesn't get it. Maybe let's take these in turn talk about spending more time with the C suite, what that looked like for you as a marketing leader and what you see that look like for CMos that you work with that have made this mental shift about their Ceo and the rest of the C suite. While I think that those two things are inextricably linked, right? Because what and what you're really doing and spending time with with people is it's just like any friendship you have, right? Or any great conversation that you've ever had or any great first date that you've ever had, you were focused on them. You weren't trying to sell anything least of all yourself to them. Right? You were expressing you were asking them a lot of questions. That's a that's a classic metric, right? If if if you're mostly asking questions of this other person, that's a good thing. I think that at the end of the day marketing is so one of the great kind of ironic, farcical jokes about this whole situation is that whatever money you're spending on marketing and you're, we're presuming you're spending it well and all that kind of stuff. Right? Then we're talking about the last thing in the company that should worry about our lie. And I'll tell you why it's because the same dollar is not only improving sales productivity, it's improving recruiting and retention. It's recruiting. You know, investor relations is improving all these things simultaneously now on different time lagged kind of situations, but it's all happening off the same money. Right? So the cool part about that is is that when you spend time with these leaders, you're helping all of them. Pretty much. You just got to figure out how they see it, what their biggest needs are and go there for them, right? I mean, and then be able to say, okay, you know what, this is, this is what we're gonna project here. this is what we think we can do for you. And this is the value arc over time and space, and we'll...

...report back against how we're doing so again, this is like guidance and the and then the quarterly report, right? And that is that is really, really key. I think that the the other part to this is to realize that, so this is this is a little hardcore, but I'll go with it. So we're all, we've all heard about how in a really, really negative situations, right? The abuser can the the abuse becomes the abuser, right? And and that is part of what is going on here. And what I mean by that is, is that these business leaders are under an enormous amount of pressure to deliver to perform, right? And they are getting hit in ways that a lot of times is not transparent to everybody else. And so if they feel like that you are not helping them right, they're gonna, they're gonna take it out on you, right? The crap rolls downhill. And so I think that the more this isn't, by the way, if you view this as politics, I would say that it's not, it's not politics, this is human relationships. And this is about being able to say, okay, I really understand you. I really understand what's important to you as opposed to let me tell you about this cool new campaign and why, you know when we passed the hat at the C suite, you need to cough up several million dollars to co fund it, right? That's not what I'm talking about. I love it. I think you're exactly right there, mark that they are really linked in changing your view of the rest of the C suite and spending more time with them, as you mentioned, not just you're not just saying, hey, you know, go play politics because as you said earlier, when you come asking questions, showing curiosity and proving your value, then the amount of time you need to spend, politicking actually goes way down, right? It's it's the opposite when that's all you have to draw on is, you know, the relationship building or politics could good or bad and indifferent, right? Regardless of what that looks like. You can, you can eliminate a lot of that when you approach it on a human level, connecting with those other members of the C suite and then just as importantly recognizing what's important to them and tying what you're doing to what is important to them and drawing that line. I think that's where a lot of marketers to go back to, you know, similar stories there either, I don't think they can do or they're afraid to because they're not quite sure if there is that direct line, even though, as you mentioned, a lot of them would into it. Yes, there is the line. I just I just can't show that, you know, as you're interviewing a lot of marketers right now, is that kind of what you're hearing that? Yes, there is that line. I just don't feel like I have the confidence to say yes, that that line is they're connecting what...

I'm doing to this business impact. You know, I think it's actually like a lot of startup founders, you feel like you can't expose your doubts safely, right? And so you end up delivering this highly curated representation of whatever it is that you're doing, right. And I think that marketers do that a lot because they're they're inside deep inside their very insecure about this whole thing. Um, I think that part of the reason why they feel that way is that also they are not in many cases a T shaped talent. And what I mean by that is they go very deep, they have lots of expertise on marketing, right, particularly what I would call marketing execution, but in terms of understanding the business, in terms of actually being able to convincingly engage with the business leader about the things that they care about. That's where it gets a little shaky. Not too long ago I was, I was invited to do an offsite with one of the largest recruiting firms in the world, um where the whole focus was on the modern CMO. And at the end this, this one person stood up and asked me this question, you know, hey, is there one thing, is there one thing that we can use to identify a modern CMO? And I said, well, yeah, but you're not, you're not gonna like this a whole lot, right? But yes, the there is present them with a basic, straightforward financial statement and ask them to tell the story of that business based on what they read their right. And I said a lot of times they won't be able to do that. So, one of the things that I did, and I'm just saying this is a way of trying to help this, right, is when I was still a CMO, I would put all my folks through finance for non financial managers courses at their local universities. I wasn't trying to turn them into us, you know, CFO, right? But I wanted him to do that. And then I also started running them all, all of them 100% including me through sales induction uh classes, right? So done about like when when your company on boards, a new class of sales guys, right? And it's it's hell week. You know, it's usually an offsite in some hotel ballroom and it's just very traumatic or can be very traumatic but it is incredibly revealing and very bonding, right? And so you leave with all these relationships with sales guys, which is a really good thing. And you also really start to understand their world. And you also pick up selling skills yourself, right? These two...

...things went a long way towards helping the situation because also if the C suite feels like that you as the CMO totally get it. But if they scratch one layer down and everybody that reports to you and that reports them doesn't get it. This is also a problem. So important, then you lose that incredibility that that you've built up. That's great stuff, Mark to realize that how you see something totally depends on the chair that you're sitting in. And if you can put put yourself in their chair, not only does that empathy building, but also it will change your own perspective. And so you will realize, wow, you know what I you know like so a business leader gives you a marketing budget, guess what? They see that as an investment deal. They also are very, very concerned that the opportunity cost attached to that investment deal will cut against them. In other words, that when it comes down to it, they won't be convinced of the value. And so they will not only lost that money and spending it with you, right? But they also have lost what they could have spent it on somewhere else. Right? That is I'm not we're not judging the fairness run fairness of all this. We're saying this is the reality, this is where this is where leaders are in their heads on this stuff. Absolutely. I think it goes back to to sum up what you just said there. I think you told it to me really well last time where you sit determines where you stand. Um and begins with that empathy of putting yourself in that other seat in that sales leader seat in that ceo seat. Um And I think you laid out some really practical things in the CFO seat, right? Going through yourself and uh the rest of your team through some financial literacy courses and finance courses so that they can look at A. P. And L. They can look at those things and actually be able to tell the story of the business um in a way that a lot of marketers can't these days, also like what you said about, um you know, not only empathizing with sales, but um bolstering your sales, acumen your sales skills and building relationships with sales. If you can find ways to get your marketing team involved with uh new sales, onboarding and training, even if it's a little bit traumatic, but you know, we started this interview saying, you know that you got beat up and you learn some lessons from it. So maybe a little bit of trauma is a good thing, right? It's all, it's all about what you do with it. Exactly, Exactly. Well, this has been a fantastic conversation mark for anybody who wants to stay connected with you, learn more about what you and the team at proof analytics are up to or find your podcast. What is the best way for them to take action on any of those three? Well, I would say that to reach me. I mean I'm I'm pretty active on linkedin. In fact, some people would say I'm very active on linkedin. So uh so I would reach out to me there um if you want to...

...find our podcast, it's it's called Accelerating Value. It's on all the major platforms. So it's super easy to find. Um there's some great interviews with people like Sandra bahsrah, right? That, you know, I mean people who are just really brilliant. And so what we don't really talk about like their day job, right? We talk about how they see value creation, how they think about it, how they invest in and how they defend it, all that kind of stuff, Right? And so and we don't just talk to marketers, we talked to all kinds of leaders right? Because we're trying to really inspire a bunch of people to to think a little differently and move beyond the operational, which is really important into not even the strategic, it's it's really about a value mindset. It's about, hey man, I gotta I gotta return enough on my on that money to make it worthwhile for everybody else. Yeah, I think it ties back to something you said earlier about, you know when you get budget or you get an agreement from another department to share their budget on something that marketing is leading, they're really looking at that as an investment deal. And if you can make that shift in your mindset, it's gonna change how you actually execute on that, how you communicate with them, how you share progress updates, how you think about winning or losing in that. In that example, I imagine you already mentioned SAN Graham, You and I have talked multiple times offline about how much we admire him. Uh not only as a marketer in person, but any other uh interviews of accelerating value that have really stood out to you recently, if someone goes and finds your show one that you would recommend. Yeah. So actually, so julie Brown is at johnson controls, right? So actually kind of a competitor to Honeywell and julie did so well as a analytics Lead marketing leader. Guess what? She's now running all of business transformation at jOHNS controls, reporting to the Ceo. So it's not it's not that she's somehow escaped right from marketing. It's it's about the fact that what I mean if if if marketing isn't business transformation then what the hell is it? Right. I mean you're not only trying to transform the business that you're in, you're trying to transform customers businesses. That's how much you believe in the value property, right? So so you know she just leave it up, right? And she has some really really great insights right? Again on this T. Shaped kind of idea which I think is so important, so important for all of this is not you know, we've spent a lot of time in this conversation logon talking about all this in the context of being a CMO. But this is this is these are universal...

...truths, right? It it doesn't matter if you go back 15 years, you go back 20 years. So right after y two K. Guess who was going through exactly the same transformation that marketing is moving through today and did it just as painfully as marketing is doing it today. And that's enterprise I. T. Right? And it was when it was when the C. I. O. Stopped being a tech head and started being a business leader who happened to also be a tech head. Right? That's when that transition was complete. And that's really what a modern CMO or a modern Cto or whoever it's all about as a business leader first. And then you've got the specialization, as you mentioned earlier talking about campaigns right? It's not that the orchestration of those campaigns is not important. The operations are still important. Kind of you know you've got a business leader who's wearing the I. T. Had he's still a tech head. But what he or she is first has changed. I think that's that's the lesson and I love the way that you rounded it out today. Mark that you know we're talking to CMOS and marketing leaders but this really can apply to every area of business in every area of life. Well, I highly encourage anybody who's not connected with you. Uh Check out Mark stoops, S T O U S E on linkedin. Check out proof analytics and we'll link to accelerating value uh their podcast in the show notes here, check out that episode from julie Brown. Once you find that subscribe, scroll to see julie braun's episode and check that out, uh it is a great one. Mark, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. This is a blast. Thanks is the decision maker for your product or service at BBB marketer. Are you looking to reach those buyers through the medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a co host of GDP growth. This show is consistently ranked as a top 100 podcast in the marketing category of apple podcasts and the Show gets more than 100 And 30,000 downloads each month. We've already done the work of building the audience so you can focus on delivering incredible content to our listeners. If you're interested, email Logan at Sweet Fish Media dot com.

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