Scaling a New Marketing Organization and My Leadership Philosophy

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All of my marketing experience has been with early- to mid-stage venture backed startups or early-stage products within a larger organization. At Microsoft, I managed the commercial launch of their cloud computing product and built their demand gen engine from zero. Incidentally, this scenario isn’t unique to Microsoft and is one that I built my marketing career around: building organizations that are based on facts and data, not ones that rely on anecdotal opinions. That’s how marketing contributes to the bottom line.

One of the more complete examples of this was an engagement with Apptio. When I arrived there was barely a website; marketing contributed to 0% of total revenue; and, they had no way of measuring marketing’s contributions. When I left four years later, just prior to their initial public offering, marketing sourced 35% of all revenue and affected over 75% and, more importantly, we had the systems and processes in place to measure and improve upon our contributions.

I didn’t set out to make this my specialty, but nearly all of my experience in marketing has been at a similar place in time, organizationally: No senior marketing leadership and, in most cases, the only person on the marketing team was someone junior to manage the blog and social media. Scale can come in a number of ways, depending on appetite and budget. But finding good people is hard. So for expediency, I will often hire and work alongside temporary contractors to get the basics done. As workload and resources allow, we replace with FTE.

My leadership philosophy is pretty simple:

  • We are deliberate: We will decide ahead of time what we will do, but we will make changes if we decide to. 
  • We are open minded: The best ideas and actionable data set our course. Not the highest paid person’s opinion.
  • We trust one another: We’re all adults and experts in our fields, so I expect everyone to be trusted to make good decisions.
  • We have confidence in ourselves: If you want something, don’t wait for someone to anticipate it. You need to ask for it and then make it happen.
  • We make mistakes: If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying hard enough, but we make new and better ones every day.