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All Female CMOs. All Great Advice.

By Linh Ho on October 4, 2019


In this third blog in the series, Through the Data Lens: CMOs Get Real, our outstanding panel of industry thought leaders shared high-level insights and energizing ideas for marketing leaders to pocket as we venture forth—especially valuable as we round out our 2020 planning.

In Blog #1, Why the Data Surge is Elevating Our Role, we heard the panel’s take on the surge of data across a slew of marketing sources. They discussed how the intelligence gleaned from all the data—when done right—has essentially shifted them into roles as corporate officers now charged with driving business growth, in step with the same pressures sales leaders face. In Blog #2, How Data Science Has Changed the Game Forever, the panel tackled the topic of the changing role of data science in their martech stacks, and the advantages of now being able to report far more precise, accurate, and forecasted marketing metrics up to their executive leaders and boards.   

In this final blog in the series, All Female CMOs. All Great Advice, it’s the sage advice and wisdoms shared in just one hour—from these three influential CMOs—that got us excited about being marketers at a time when we do have more spend control and forecasting abilities than ever before. The power is in our data and what we do with it.

Enjoy the insights below and mark your calendars for upcoming panel events with this same outstanding panel!

  • Christy Marble, CMO, Vizier Inc. and former Concur CMO
  • Elissa Fink, recent CMO at Tableau, and current serial Board member and University of Washington Adjunct Professor
  • Denise Persson, CMO, Snowflake

I asked the panelists about how they’re trusting their data more than they ever have and the impact of that trust within and across their organizations. 

Christy: “It’s important to make sure that every marketer is using the same data that you’re reporting up to the executive team—that it’s the same metrics rolling both up and down (at different levels of granularity). There should not be a disparity in the baseline data.” 

Elissa: “Which is why, as a CMO, it’s super important to have good, strong, trusting relationships with finance and finance planning and analysis—from both a budgeting and planning focus. You don’t want them creating your metrics and sending them to the board or executive team when your benchmarks and KPIs look different. Keep these allies close, keep them trusted, and let them trust you to show that you’re in control of the data.” 

Denise: “I agree. Snowflake has a dedicated business partner on the finance side for marketing, and this individual knows exactly what’s going on under the marketing hood and helps ensure the CFO understands what’s happening in marketing on a day to day basis. Our finance partner is a key liaison for us.”

Linh: “This is timely -- For those of you in the midst of your marketing budget planning for 2020, Gartner recently published a blog with a set of questions that your CFOs and finance partners will likely ask you, and to which you’ll want to have answers! So, if you partner with finance, we hope you find this blog helpful.” 

Because we’re all working in data-driven, growth environments, I asked the panelists what tips and advice they’d offer us—collected along their career journeys.

Denise: “I would say focus on breaking down the data silos across your organization. Get everyone behind the same data. It’s also important to provide everyone in the organization with access to the data, so it’s in the hands of those who need it. Essentially, democratize it. Finally, I think the strategy to become data driven needs to come from the CEO—mandated and driven at the highest levels across the entire organization. If it doesn’t come from the CEO, you’re never going to become a data-driven organization.”

Elissa: “I’d say get people looking at data. The more you look at it, even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s siloed, even if it doesn’t solve the exact problem you’re facing, the pieces you CAN look at are just going to make you smarter. It will help you make more informed decisions. When marketers get used to looking at data and asking questions, it makes their judgment better, and that’s what you want—marketers who are highly creative with great judgement.”

Christy: “I agree with Elissa. We’re either going to make decisions based on people telling us what to do from their experience and their data, or we make the decisions based on the data we have at hand. Be confident that your data serves as a powerful tool and use it! In fact, the 80/20 Pareto principle still holds true. The amount of money you could spend trying to get your data from 80 to 99 percent accuracy can literally take down your company. Shoot for an 80/20 data accuracy target to make good decisions to move your company forward.”       

Elissa: “With AI and ML, it’s also about utilizing great partners, great vendors, and great people that can help your company. So, it’s important to be a good buyer and partner to your vendors. There’s a lot of power there. Leverage it.”

Christy: “And when you find that you have an absence of key data, use benchmarks. Look for vendors that can deliver that data deficit you need in their tools.”

"...the strategy to become data driven needs to come from the CEO—mandated and driven at the highest levels across the entire organization." 
—Denise Persson, CMO, Snowflake

Finally, I asked the panel’s advice for fellow female marketing leaders and allies. Here are the highlights:

Christy: “There finally came a point in my career where I began to take a bit of a devil may care attitude and was willing to go with my gut, risk more, and take my seat at the table. So, to all women (and men) in the audience, I’d encourage you to do that sooner than I did. Don’t wait till you’re in your 30’s or 40’s. And when you’re at your seat at the table, be sure you take the space at the table and contribute, because you all have something to bring no matter your gender, color of your skin, or anything else you think is holding you back. No one has limitations.”   

Elissa: “At one company in my career, I didn’t feel like I could be myself. And when you spend a lot of time trying to be someone you’re not—that’s not your authentic self—then it’s energy you’re not putting into your job. I worked hard to be pretty mediocre in that job. So, find a place that deserves you and appreciates you so you don’t have to fake it and where you can authentically take your space. Then, 100% of the greatness you bring is all great.” 

Denise: “Say “Yes! Immediately to opportunities. Don’t set up barriers that don’t exist. Don’t say, “Well, I don’t know—let me go and talk to so-and-so or take four weeks to make a decision. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Maybe you have to jump on a flight home and stay with your mom for a couple weeks…if someone believes in you and offers you a great opportunity, then you should believe in yourself.” 

Our incredible panel spoke to a variety of additional topics and great audience questions. Watch soon for a conDati whitepaper that takes a deep dive into these trends and data-driven insights that impact every marketer’s use of and trust in AI and ML-fueled marketing data to help us win results.