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'mLogan Lyles with sweet fish media. I'm joined today by Mark stoops. He isattack CMO turned software ceo. He's currently the chairman and Ceo at proofanalytics. 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 tobe here. Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely. Well we're going towe're going to get more into your background as we go through theconversation today because really what we're talking about today is that CMosand marketing leaders really need a shift in their perspective. UmOftentimes that they're, they're not able to get that outside view of whattheir role really is and how they can best serve their Ceo and best servedtheir organizations. So tell us a little bit about how you came to viewthe CMO and marketing leadership roles differently over, you know, especiallyuh recent years in your career. I got beat up quite a bit. Right. Um, I thinkthat if we go back safe to like 2004, so I'm, I'm, I'm an hp. I'm leading therole in one of the four big business units. And I'm working a lot with MarkHurd, who was the Ceo of HP at that time, went on to be the CO Ceo oforacle before. Unfortunately he passed away. Mark was a former sales guy, verycustomer facing Ceo and he would sit there and say, you know, I probablyhave more anecdotal evidence of the business impact that you're creatingthan you do, but that's not good enough if you're going to ask me for a lotmore money or if you're going to ask me to protect you from a budget cut, whichat 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 pproof. And you know, I I uh I remember being very frustrated about that. Hewas also, you know, I I don't really mean this badly. I mean I I think itwas 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 hebacked me up against a wall physically, you know, because he was really hotabout 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 getto define our own value, right? We may actually really truly be creating a lotof value. But if we're not able to...

...prove it, if we're not able to helppeople see it clearly, then it doesn't exist in one sense, right? And sothat'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 myabilities, but in my perspective and in how it how they ultimately come onboard 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 annualguidance and then we're gonna come along every quarter and we're going togive a report out against that guidance. That's ultimately what makes the streettrust you or not trust you in terms of your execution. And it is exactly thesame. 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 yourtrusted 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 physicallygot in your face at times and got upset, you know, when you were asking for morebudget, but disconnecting that from, I need to be able to show the value thatI'm driving. So I want to point that out as we talk about, you know, thatpivotal point for you, Mark what really what really changed from there. So itwas it was specifically there was there's one situation you shared withme where you were asking for an increase to the budget, it really gotheated and then you you know, you took that to reflect on, okay, am I reallymaking the case here and showing my value, proving my value um when I'mcoming into these budget conversations, is that right? That's kind of theturning point there. And if I'm, if I'm right there, what we're kind of thenext steps for you and your evolution as a marketing leader coming out ofthat. I mean, at that point I think, you know, I was probably pretty muchjust like any other marketer that's ever lived right in terms of myperspective on stuff. You know, I was I defined my excellence uh in many waysbased on my team's ability to orchestrate campaigns and to do thatflawlessly. Keeping, keeping in mind, you know, this is like 15, 16, 17 yearsago, but orchestration has always been really important to marketers, it'simportant today and it's I'm not saying it's not important. What I'm saying isthat that's all you've got, you've got a problem. And what I also started toreally realize is I started really paying attention to how much politics Iwas having to play with the C suite because one of the things I startedkind of figuring out, I had, I had a...

...coach, great coach at that time isthere's an inverse relationship between how much politics you have to play inorder to make people happy and all that kind of stuff as a CMO and the amountof data or analytics that you can bring to the table. So the more proof, smallp proof that you have, the less you have to kiss somebody's ass. That'sreally 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 sametime I was I was being schooled literally right in and how analyticsreally 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 canyou do? And what can you, what we struggle with and all that kind ofstuff. and the ensuing 10, 15 years was all about working that outoperationally, which is actually the big hurdle for a number of reasons. Soyou 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 thelast, you know, several years, that's changed in what's doable and what ittakes and all those sorts of things and the, the tech is different. But umwould you say that even with the advanced technology and marketers beingable to do more with less, they still kinda have that old mindset of man. IfI'm pulling off campaigns and orchestration is happening, then I'msuccessful. You think that's still in a lot of marketers minds front and centertoday? Yeah, I mean I see it a lot still to this day. I think also if youare wearing the badge of honor, wearing this phrase right, doing more with lessas a badge of honor, with all the respect in the world, you have missedthe point. You're supposed to be doing less with less and more with more. Um and I don't know a business leaderpersonally who when, when uh presented with the proof, that's somethingwhatever that is, is accelerating their business, growing their business,making their business better in meaningful ways that they don't want toinvest more in that thing. I mean, they would be crazy not to. Now, there is apoint, right? There's an S curve, there's an optimization curve. And you know, at some point you you hitthe where the point of diminishing returns kicks in, right? But most, mostmarketing teams are very far from that point. So if you can deliver the proofthat you are really contributing and predictably say, and if you give memore, I can do more and I can bring you...

...further up this curve assuming thatyour company can afford it, they're going to do it. And so I think a lot ofcmos, I was certainly in this, in this uh place, big time. I had been beatenaround the head and shoulders on this issue for so long. I had, you know, thebudget 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 toinvest more in things that are going to get them more and what they want toprove it. Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, that obviously set you on, wellmaybe not obviously, but you and I know each other and I know that that youknow set you off on the path towards what you guys knew. And now at proofanalytics, tell us a little bit mark about what did you start to do? So youhave this shift and said I really need to be able to prove my impacthistorically and even better if I can more confidently forecast and predictmy impact with greater budget, then I'm really going to be in a much betterposition of not being looked down on as a marketing leader, but actually beinglooked to for advice, look looked to for solutions. Right? So how did youstart to make that shift, you know, at the next stop in your career? What weresome of the things that you did differently after you made this mentalshift? Well, I mean, I have to say that initially it wasn't the most fun I'veever had, right? But but I I may I started to make it all about theanalytics. I was I was really pretty rigid for a while because I could tellthat while a lot of C suite people and other people, other business leadersliked me. I thought I was really good at what I did, right? That wasn't thesame as trusting me. I don't mean trusting me as a person. I meantrusting 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 feelingsto be perfectly honest with you. And then it kind of pissed me off. And so Ithink a lot of the last 15 years for me has been a quest for that thing, right? That trustthat confidence, right? And the awareness of what marketing um couldreally 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 thatmarketing is right up there at the top...

...in terms of being awesome and yet ithas the longest running feud with the business that that exists. I mean it'sit's so well known and so lingering that there are huge punch lines betweenbusiness leaders about it. Right. Right. So, I mean, what you're saying isyou're kind of tag line right of tax CMO turned software ceo doesn't meanthat you're anti marketing. Not at all. Not at all. I I um I mean look, let mejust I'll be really candid about it. Right. I mean if if proof analytics wasmainly about if if a customer brought in proof analytics as a tool and themost common outcome was that it showed that marketing was a bunch of bunk isnot only would that not be a really going concern is business, but thatwould really suck. Right? I mean that's not fun. The cool part about it is andand if there's a headline here, the headline is this In the absence ofanalytics for the most part outside of CPG and retail and stuff like that.Most marketers have correctly intuited what works. Right. So we're talkingabout kind of like you go in there, it's kind of a classic 80, 20 split. So20% of its not really performing or its underperforming or whatever. And youcan identify it and you can fix it Right? And you get to a point whereyou're rapidly optimized not only among your marketing envelope, but againstwhatever market conditions you are having to deal with. Right? And if wesaw anything out of 2020, it's that past is not prologue. It's not and datais all about the past. Right, analytics is what takes the dataand runs projections that then you can confirm as the future becomes thepresent, Right? So that is that's really what this is all about. And youknow, 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 theproduct immediately, right? Because they're sort of trained to do that. Andthen you can kind of see this little glimmer in their eye, right there likesitting there going, oh, this is gonna be so great, right? We're gonna finallyput the screws to marketing, right? And, and then the and the marketers are notreal 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 lotbetter than I thought it was going to be. What's the, what's the percentagebreakdown? 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? Iwould say, I would say it's, you know, again, the exception would be thingslike e commerce and anything where marketing is revenue, Right? So thatwould be a separate situation. But anything else, I would say it's damnnear 100% right where everyone is shocked. And and if the truth is, youknow, 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, themarketers 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 whatthey're saying, even if they are breathing a sigh of relief and they'reexcited about what they see. So they're a little bit surprised as well, atleast in your experience going through this process of peeling back thecurtain for financial market. Well, if they, so if they, so I think that theywouldn't be as freaked out sometimes if they were confident. So uh one of thebest video calls I ever got right was from a CMO uh really great lady whocalls me up on facetime, right? And she's sitting in her office smoking acigar. No kidding, right. I mean for real, she's smoking a cigar and she'scelebrating the first crank out of the analytics from proof. And, and she'slike, 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'vebrought 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 like85, 15, almost 90 10 in terms of getting her spinned correct. Right? Andso I just think that that's that's one of my favorite parts of this wholething. Right. And I think that a lot of people see analytics and they see the Csuite as a bunch of judges in black robes, right? Who are basically sayingyou suck. Right. And it doesn't, I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to bethat way. I mean I, my last big CMO role was at Honeywell, HoneywellAerospace. My whole comp package was tied to theanalytics 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, youknow 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, Ican transform the level of enjoyment or I can't, but the analytics will, willtransform the level of enjoyment you get from your profession. Certainlysounds like it from that facetime video that you've got, that Facetime call.That's fantastic. Well speaking of doing things differently, Mark, if youwere a CMO today and for cmos or marketing leaders listening to this,what would you recommend that they do differently? There were a couple ofthings 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. Maybelet'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 thatlook like for CMos that you work with that have made this mental shift abouttheir Ceo and the rest of the C suite. While I think that those two things areinextricably linked, right? Because what and what you're really doing andspending 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 datethat you've ever had, you were focused on them. You weren't trying to sellanything least of all yourself to them. Right? You were expressing you wereasking them a lot of questions. That's a that's a classic metric, right? If ifif 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 kindof ironic, farcical jokes about this whole situation is that whatever moneyyou're spending on marketing and you're, we're presuming you're spending it welland all that kind of stuff. Right? Then we're talking about the last thingin the company that should worry about our lie. And I'll tell you why it's because thesame dollar is not only improving sales productivity, it's improving recruitingand retention. It's recruiting. You know, investor relations is improvingall these things simultaneously now on different time lagged kind ofsituations, but it's all happening off the same money. Right? So the cool partabout that is is that when you spend time with these leaders, you're helpingall of them. Pretty much. You just got to figure out how they seeit, what their biggest needs are and go there for them, right? I mean, and thenbe able to say, okay, you know what, this is, this is what we're gonnaproject here. this is what we think we can do for you. And this is the valuearc over time and space, and we'll...

...report back against how we're doing soagain, 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 thisis 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 thatis part of what is going on here. And what I mean by that is, is that thesebusiness leaders are under an enormous amount of pressure to deliver toperform, right? And they are getting hit in ways that a lot of times is nottransparent to everybody else. And so if they feel like that you are nothelping 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, bythe way, if you view this as politics, I would say that it's not, it's notpolitics, 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 asopposed to let me tell you about this cool new campaign and why, you knowwhen we passed the hat at the C suite, you need to cough up several milliondollars 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 inchanging 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 playpolitics because as you said earlier, when you come asking questions, showingcuriosity 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 whenthat's all you have to draw on is, you know, the relationship building orpolitics could good or bad and indifferent, right? Regardless of whatthat looks like. You can, you can eliminate a lot of that when youapproach it on a human level, connecting with those other members ofthe C suite and then just as importantly recognizing what'simportant to them and tying what you're doing to what is important to them anddrawing that line. I think that's where a lot of marketers to go back to, youknow, similar stories there either, I don't think they can do or they'reafraid to because they're not quite sure if there is that direct line, eventhough, 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 ofmarketers right now, is that kind of what you're hearing that? Yes, there isthat line. I just don't feel like I have the confidence to say yes, thatthat line is they're connecting what...

I'm doing to this business impact. Youknow, I think it's actually like a lot of startup founders, you feel like youcan't expose your doubts safely, right? And so you end up delivering thishighly 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 deepinside their very insecure about this whole thing. Um, I think that part ofthe reason why they feel that way is that also they are not in many cases aT shaped talent. And what I mean by that is they go very deep, they havelots of expertise on marketing, right, particularly what I would callmarketing execution, but in terms of understanding thebusiness, in terms of actually being able to convincingly engage with thebusiness leader about the things that they care about. That's where it gets alittle shaky. Not too long ago I was, I was invited to do an offsite with oneof the largest recruiting firms in the world, um where the whole focus was onthe modern CMO. And at the end this, this one personstood up and asked me this question, you know, hey, is there one thing, isthere 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 andask them to tell the story of that business based on what they read theirright. And I said a lot of times they won't be able to do that. So, one ofthe things that I did, and I'm just saying this is a way of trying to helpthis, right, is when I was still a CMO, I would put allmy folks through finance for non financial managers courses at theirlocal 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 ofthem 100% including me through sales induction uh classes, right? So doneabout 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 somehotel ballroom and it's just very traumatic or can be very traumatic butit is incredibly revealing and very bonding, right? And so you leave withall these relationships with sales guys, which is a really good thing. And youalso really start to understand their world. And you also pick up sellingskills yourself, right? These two...

...things went a long way towards helpingthe situation because also if the C suite feels like that you as the CMOtotally get it. But if they scratch one layer down and everybody that reportsto you and that reports them doesn't get it. This is also a problem. Soimportant, then you lose that incredibility that that you've built up.That's great stuff, Mark to realize that how you see something totallydepends on the chair that you're sitting in. And if you can put putyourself in their chair, not only does that empathy building, but also it willchange your own perspective. And so you will realize, wow, you know what I youknow 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 thatthe 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 thevalue. 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 somewhereelse. Right? That is I'm not we're not judging the fairness run fairness ofall this. We're saying this is the reality, this is where this is whereleaders are in their heads on this stuff. Absolutely. I think it goes backto to sum up what you just said there. I think you told it to me really welllast time where you sit determines where you stand. Um and begins withthat empathy of putting yourself in that other seat in that sales leaderseat in that ceo seat. Um And I think you laid out some really practicalthings in the CFO seat, right? Going through yourself and uh the rest ofyour team through some financial literacy courses and finance courses sothat they can look at A. P. And L. They can look at those things and actuallybe able to tell the story of the business um in a way that a lot ofmarketers can't these days, also like what you said about, um you know, notonly empathizing with sales, but um bolstering your sales, acumen yoursales skills and building relationships with sales. If you can find ways to getyour marketing team involved with uh new sales, onboarding and training,even if it's a little bit traumatic, but you know, we started this interviewsaying, you know that you got beat up and you learn some lessons from it. Somaybe a little bit of trauma is a good thing, right? It's all, it's all aboutwhat you do with it. Exactly, Exactly. Well, this has been a fantasticconversation mark for anybody who wants to stay connected with you, learn moreabout what you and the team at proof analytics are up to or find yourpodcast. 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 wouldreach out to me there um if you want to...

...find our podcast, it's it's calledAccelerating Value. It's on all the major platforms. So it's super easy tofind. 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 wedon't really talk about like their day job, right? We talk about how they see value creation, how theythink about it, how they invest in and how they defend it, all that kind ofstuff, Right? And so and we don't just talk to marketers, we talked to allkinds of leaders right? Because we're trying to really inspire a bunch ofpeople to to think a little differently and move beyond the operational, whichis really important into not even the strategic, it's it's really about avalue mindset. It's about, hey man, I gotta I gotta return enough on my onthat money to make it worthwhile for everybody else. Yeah, I think it tiesback to something you said earlier about, you know when you get budget oryou get an agreement from another department to share their budget onsomething that marketing is leading, they're really looking at that as aninvestment deal. And if you can make that shift in your mindset, it's gonnachange how you actually execute on that, how you communicate with them, how youshare progress updates, how you think about winning or losing in that. Inthat example, I imagine you already mentioned SAN Graham, You and I havetalked multiple times offline about how much we admire him. Uh not only as amarketer in person, but any other uh interviews of accelerating value thathave really stood out to you recently, if someone goes and finds your show onethat you would recommend. Yeah. So actually, so julie Brown is at johnsoncontrols, right? So actually kind of a competitor to Honeywell and julie didso well as a analytics Lead marketing leader. Guess what? She's now runningall of business transformation at jOHNS controls, reporting to the Ceo. So it'snot it's not that she's somehow escaped right from marketing. It's it's aboutthe fact that what I mean if if if marketing isn't business transformationthen what the hell is it? Right. I mean you're not only trying to transform thebusiness 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 knowshe just leave it up, right? And she has some really really great insightsright? Again on this T. Shaped kind of idea which I think is so important, soimportant for all of this is not you know, we've spent a lot of time in thisconversation logon talking about all this in the context of being a CMO. Butthis is this is these are universal...

...truths, right? It it doesn't matter ifyou go back 15 years, you go back 20 years. So right after y two K. Guesswho was going through exactly the same transformation that marketing is movingthrough today and did it just as painfully as marketing is doing ittoday. And that's enterprise I. T. Right? And it was when it was when theC. I. O. Stopped being a tech head and started being a business leader whohappened to also be a tech head. Right? That's when that transition wascomplete. And that's really what a modern CMO or a modern Cto or whoeverit's all about as a business leader first. And then you've got thespecialization, as you mentioned earlier talking about campaigns right?It's not that the orchestration of those campaigns is not important. Theoperations are still important. Kind of you know you've got a business leaderwho's wearing the I. T. Had he's still a tech head. But what he or she isfirst has changed. I think that's that's the lesson and I love the waythat you rounded it out today. Mark that you know we're talking to CMOS andmarketing leaders but this really can apply to every area of business inevery area of life. Well, I highly encourage anybody who's not connectedwith you. Uh Check out Mark stoops, S T O U S E on linkedin. Check out proofanalytics and we'll link to accelerating value uh their podcast inthe show notes here, check out that episode from julie Brown. Once you findthat subscribe, scroll to see julie braun's episode and check that out, uhit 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 productor service at BBB marketer. Are you looking to reach those buyers throughthe medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a co host of GDP growth. Thisshow is consistently ranked as a top 100 podcast in the marketing categoryof apple podcasts and the Show gets more than 100 And 30,000 downloads eachmonth. We've already done the work of building the audience so you can focuson delivering incredible content to our listeners. If you're interested, emailLogan at Sweet Fish Media dot com.

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