Welcome to CMO Secrets. This series features genuine insights and advice from today’s exceptional marketing leaders. Some names will be easily recognized and others may be new to you, but every single one will have been hand-picked for their experience and knowledge in the world of startups, technology and marketing. No pretense, jargon or PR spin here. We asked our most burning marketing questions, and they answered. Get their unfiltered thoughts and opinions and find out how these
gurus rockstars marketers got to where they are today.
(Note: This content was previously published on Mautic.com in December 2018 and has been updated for accuracy.)
Today we welcome Aaron Dun. Aaron has over 20 years of experience running marketing programs for high growth venture-funded companies and publicly traded global organizations. He focuses on connecting marketing performance to sales achievement through transformational go-to-market strategies. Aaron currently serves as Chief Growth Strategist for Jobiak, was previously the SVP of Marketing for SnapApp, and the CMO for Intronis through the company’s acquisition by Barracuda Networks. He is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma and a vocal opponent of lead-gated PDFs. Sometimes he tweets interesting things on Twitter at @ajdun.
Tell us about Jobiak – why you were excited to join them as Chief Growth Strategist and the role marketing plays there.
It’s been a fascinating journey jumping into such an early stage opportunity. My career has typically focused on more mature businesses (and a few large global ones as well) so I thought this was a good point in my life to partner up with a great team solving a really interesting problem and see where it leads.
It has been cool to start from scratch. To think deeply about what it means to engage with customers and how to create rapid scale. I was joking with a friend recently that I now have a lab to test out all of my crazy ass ideas that I have had over the years. And as Chief Growth Officer, I get to look closely at the intersection of marketing, sales, and customer success to truly drive the business forward.
Have you noticed a shift in the marketing stack tools that are most critical to your success at Jobiak compared to any of your previous companies?
More broadly, I would say that we are overrun by technology, and the opportunity to use technology very often gets in the way. You have to be laser-focused on the tools that are going to help you move the needle. And even more importantly, make sure you can measure the results that the technology is giving you.
Buyer patterns are changing dramatically under our feet, and the old “outbound disguised as inbound” model B2B marketers have been using for the last number of years needs to adapt. We need to find new, creative ways to engage with our prospects, but we still have to deliver a result. Prioritizing products and platforms that help you create new engagement paths, and measure those results will be critical.
Over the course of your career, what trends have you noticed in terms of the marketing programs that consistently perform best?
I think the universal thread from campaigns that were very successful vs campaigns that didn’t perform as well, really centers on the data, and how we used that data. The times we assumed we knew, didn’t work as well as the times that we really did know. Your gut can get a new idea of the ground, but the data tells you if it’s working and where to tack to scale the idea or shelve it if you need to. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeve and do it manually if you have to. If you don’t have the numbers you are just hoping for a miracle.
Do you think there are any attitudes or beliefs in marketing that need to change? Outdated approaches or misunderstood insights?
Well I believe pretty passionately that the era of the “gated whitepaper” is fundamentally over. The idea that you can post a piece of content, collect leads, send those leads to sales, and have them convert into deals quickly worked well for a long time, but content overload, and changing buying behaviors are rendering this approach obsolete.
Rather than spending a ton of time figuring out how to wring another 100 downloads of your whitepaper and somehow imputing “intent” from that activity, find those new engagement paths. How do you get people to raise their hand and *ask* to see your product or ask to engage with you? Live chat is the thing of the moment, but what else are you doing to find those paths? Change is hard, but now is the time to lead change rather than being forced to react to that change later.
If you could play Marketing Professor for a semester, who would you want in your class and what would the syllabus look like?
I love this question. I think as marketing leaders part of what we have to do is teach the next set of marketers who are coming up and help them define their own growth path in their careers. I see my job as helping my team members achieve their goals and if they can take something from our time together that helps them along the way then it was all worth it.
So who is in the class? I love to work with new managers and soon to be directors on how to start to think about shifting from managing your own activity to manage the activity of others and how big a shift that is. How to be accountable for work you didn’t do, how to set a vision and bring people with you to deliver an outcome, how to deal with underperformance, how to set goals and measure them, how to analyze data to make a change, how to think bigger, etc. Lots of people are really good marketers, but not everyone is able to make the jump to management and then to leadership. These are hard things to learn, but it’s so important, and you rarely get to go to a class to learn them, you need to get it on the job. (Of course, now I want to teach a class on this subject!)