In this PitchMaps Leaderview, Debbie Qaqish, author of Rise of the Revenue Marketer and Chief Strategy Officer at The Pedowitz Group, examines the customer focus issue through the lens of revenue marketing. Here are some highlights from our conversation with Debbie.
PitchMaps: Tell us a little bit about your current role.
Debbie Qaqish: I’m one of the principals at the Pedowitz Group. I’m currently the Chief Strategy Officer. My role is to have an ongoing dialog with the market about what’s changing in marketing – specifically for the CMO. That’s where I spend just about all of my time. In parallel with that, I’m working on a PhD. It’s all about how the B2B CMO adopts financial accountability in a digital marketing environment. I do a lot of speaking and also do consulting at the strategic level with companies.
PitchMaps: You coined this term “revenue marketer”. How do you define revenue marketing?
Debbie Qaqish: We define revenue marketing as the process of changing marketing from a cost center to a revenue center. It’s really that simple. At the end of the day, that’s what B2B marketers are being held accountable for – financial return.
PitchMaps: I heard one B2B CMO describe it as “Sharing the terror with sales.”
Debbie Qaqish: Yes. What’s so interesting about that is that we are drowning in technologies that enable all of this. All these technologies have far outpaced the rate at which marketing is able to consume them.
PitchMaps: How does the core message and positioning of a company relate to its revenue marketing efforts?
Debbie Qaqish: There are two key characteristics to being a revenue marketer. One is customer centricity and the other is data centricity. Let’s just talk about the customer piece for a moment. If you have core messaging and positioning that’s all about the company and the product, and not about the interests, needs, and wants of the customer, you will not be successful. Companies that have a market orientation outperform their competition in terms of revenue growth, and they create competitive advantage.
Where we see a big disconnect, and especially among the B2B companies these days, is that we’ve got all this talk about customer focus, but we’re not really seeing it as much in the core messaging and the positioning of the company. It’s still very product focused. Being a revenue marketer means that you have to be customer centric, which means that the core message and the positioning of the company must be around the customer. When those things are aligned, revenue marketing is successful, and in turn the company is more successful.
PitchMaps: What are some examples of companies that do both well – that have a strong message and strong revenue marketing?
Debbie Qaqish: I do a lot of work with Microsoft. I do think Microsoft has done an amazing job over the last eighteen months. Everybody within the entire global Microsoft organization is so excited about their direction. There’s this intense focus on the customer – for Microsoft to get back in there and become the trusted advisor to their customers. Along with that branding and that message that’s headed by the CMO of Microsoft, you also have a corollary to that. Field marketing is leading the modern marketing transformation at Microsoft. Those two initiatives are hand-in-glove right now. What they have done in the last eighteen months is epic. For a big company to make that kind of turn and to be moving forward that fast is just amazing.
PitchMaps: You’ve been quoted as saying that customer orientation is the hallmark of a successful CMO.
Debbie Qaqish: This is so interesting, because B2C understands this. The B2C world really really gets this. In B2B, they’re falling way behind. Most B2B marketers cannot tell you the last time they actually talked to a customer. In fact, most information they get about customers they get from sales or they get from third party resources.
Yet, a revenue marketing organization is sitting on a gold mine of data about the customers in terms of their behaviors across all of these digital platforms. When marketing learns how to mine that data, they become the expert on the customer, and then the rest of the company comes to them to say, “What would our customers do? What do they think? How would they feel?” Imagine a company that says, “Okay, our core messaging and our positioning has to be around the customer. Marketing, go make that happen.” Marketing now has their own rich data set to pull on to make those messages truly come to life.
PitchMaps: And that’s a win for the customer as well as the business.
Debbie Qaqish: A couple weeks ago I was presenting at a marketing summit and one of the comments made was that B2B customers want a B2C experience. When you miss the opportunity to do that, whether consciously or unconsciously, I’m going to turn away from your brand and I’m going to go to the brand that gives me that B2C experience.