What needs to change in marketing today? Episode 3: Tom Schodorf

Tom Schodorf, Splunk and board member for top public companies, is sharing his thoughts on what needs to change in marketing today. Why is marketing cornered out of the board meetings? Listen to his best tips on what MarCom can do to win the respect of the rest of the C-level.

What needs to change in marketing today?

One of the really frustrating things that I’m seeing at the board level and I’ve been to a hundred board meetings over the last six years or so is the cornering out, if you will, of the marcom function, to the point where in many cases they’re not even invited to the table anymore. What’s happened I think is back in the day sales came up with really good analytics, it shows with an investment here in inside sales or outside sales or partners or what have you, you would get a return. You assign a quota over a period of time that quota would be retired, the company would excel.

Other functions began to copy that methodology I think. IT after the .com bubble where they were completely relegated as a cost center started to show connections between what they did and business results. I work in the tech space a lot, product engineering always developing products, features, integrations, technology acquisitions and they would lay it out where you would see the investment and you would see return and all of these groups would be accountable to those and if they, and they would be held accountable, at the c-suite, at the board level. The function now that sort of stands out as not doing that is MarCom.

What can MarCom do to win the respect of the rest of the c-level?
One of the things that was shown in a recent board meeting was share a voice and the chart that was presented was our share of voices two times better now than it was three quarters ago versus our largest competitor and yet in the same board presentation by a different person, the finance person, you could plainly see that we’re losing market share and everybody in the boardroom is just like “really?” this is terrible, there is no connection whatsoever you see it on all the charts. We did 400 trade shows last year, three of these things, we had 10,000 clicks on our website last month, we delivered 50,000 MQLs and on and on but what’s missing is the correlation of all of that and even advertising thrown in there is the correlation of all that to some result that matters to the business and usually this result is revenues, margin, profitability, new logos, things of that nature.

What are your top 3 tips on how to use MarCom to improve sales?
I’ll put my CRO hat on for a minute, I’ve been a CRO for a number of years and the things that really helped there that marketing could deliver on, one is a superior website, to me it’s table stakes but you’d be amazed at how many websites are terrible. You go to them and you don’t even know what they’re selling and if they are selling something it’s sounds like everybody else. So a clearly differentiated and world-class website will bring business to your business, very important.

Another thing that really helps and I would encourage everyone to do is a user conference. User conferences were our very best lead generation tool and expansion sale tool, getting customers to talk about how they’re using your product, getting happy customers to talk about how they’re using your product which means you’ve got to make them happy of course is extremely powerful more powerful than any salesperson and then helping them in the conference to get even more value out of them to me marketing and communications plays a huge role in pulling off a successful conference.

In addition segmentation and one of the things as a CRO I had this rather large budget but even there you have to prioritize, where do I put my next sales rep, sales team, sales engineer, services person, what countries do I do business in and on and on. It would be great if the MarCom function can serve up to the revenue function. What are the next best areas to pursue who are the next best customers that are most likely going to buy when was the last time as a MarCom exact you sat down with your own MQLs and followed them through the process together it’ll free up a lot of money to do what we really want to do.