MTM Ep#5: 5 personality traits of high-performing CMOs with Jeff Goldscher

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I’m interviewing Jeff Goldscher. He has done a bit of everything, from client side to agency side to running marketing agencies. For the last four years, he’s been an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for companies, which gives him a unique perspective.


– There’s certain skills I think people need to have. The first one’s really people skills. I think you really have to understand people to be a good chief marketing officer. It’s little bit like being a great psychologist or a psychiatrist in addition to being a marketing leader.

– Welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I am your host Arsham Mirshah. I’m joined by Jeff Goldscher today. Jeff Goldscher, I’m gonna let you do the intro, but first I’ll say over two decades of experience marketing, most recently, playing outsourced Chief Marketing Officer. I know you’ve been in-house. Or no, you had your own agency.

– I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve worked on the client side, I’ve worked on the agency side, I’ve had two different kinds of marketing agencies. The last four years, I’ve been essentially an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for companies, which gives me a pretty unique experience.

– That’s what I wanna talk about.

– Okay. Well, we’ll get into it, but that’s what I find most interesting is you get that you need the experience. You describe it, I’m sorry.

– No, it’s okay. You know we’ve worked together on many projects, you know me well. I think what’s really interesting is I get to come in from an outside perspective, work with these companies but really as their Chief Marketing Officer, understand what happens inside the company. So, I’m on the client side because I’m representing them, but on the same ways, my agency mentality also exists and to be able to take things I’ve learned on the agency side and really apply them inside multiple companies that I happen to be working with at the time. And in that process, really learn what it takes to be an excellent CMO as well as just a good agency person and a good leader.

– Yep, I love that and I think that perspective obviously is very unique, but it’s also very valuable to the clients you work with, I imagine because you’re not… I don’t know how to say this. You’re not jaded by the potential politics, if I have to say it that way. So, obviously you can come in and you can talk marketing strategy and even full circle strategy, how marketing talks to sales and service and all that, but you can also talk organizational structure.

– Correct. You can also give candid feedback on team members, I don’t know–

– Correct, I can get involved in coaching and mentoring the staff, I coach and mentor leadership. I’m able to bring people together that wouldn’t normally have a reason to come together and talk across divisional lines. I have no incentive other than creating happy clients.

– That’s it.

– So, I’m able to really do things a lot differently than many other full-time marketing people and full-time staff members. But I’m part of the company, I’m not an outsider like an agency would be. So, it really does give you nice points of access to everything that goes on. It provides solutions that go way beyond just marketing.

– So, with that experience, you have graciously put together a list–

– I have a list.

– You got a list. I have notes, I’m cheating off my notes.

– It’s okay, but it’s really good content because if you’re a director of marketing, what is your growth potential? Eventually you wanna be a CMO, so I’m hoping that this podcast is reaching marketers out there everywhere. And you, with your experience can with this list of five things that every CMO should know or do or understand about themselves, working title. We’re working on it. I think it’s really good content and I love to get into it.

– It’s great.

– So, tell me, number one thing, you’re a CMO.

– I did put together five things because I do think that people think in trunks. My experience both working with CEOs and working with directors of marketing is there’s certain skills I think people need to have. The first one’s really people skills. I think you really have to understand people to be a good chief marketing officer. And the biggest thing is you’ve gotta be a good listener, you really have to be able to relate to both people above you on the hierarchy and also people that report to you, understand their needs and what their wants are. It’s a little bit like being a great psychologist or a psychiatrist in addition to being a marketing leader. You’ve gotta liaison with other departments, you’ve gotta work up and down the food chain. Really having those people skills and understanding what motivates people, it’s all really critical to being a good leader.

– It is because you’re not gonna work by yourself, you’re not gonna work in a vacuum. You’re gonna talk to different departments, you’re gonna talk up, you’re gonna talk down. You gotta be able to lead people, manage them, coach them, all that. And also deal with different personalities. Undoubtedly, very important skill, people skills for number one on the CMO list. I don’t know if it’s in order or not–

– I would say number one because I don’t think you can be a good marketer without great people skills, but I think most of us do that and I think the second thing that you really need is great business skills. You really have to understand the business that you’re in from the ground up. That may mean going on sales calls, it may mean spending time with manufacturing and operations. I think knowing how marketing fits into an entire business operation is an often underrated part of what makes a great CMO.

– Yeah, definitely crucial to know that.

– And if you can’t reach across, again, you’ve gotta report back to your CEO, you’ve gotta keep everybody happy. Your marketing can’t exist just to win awards. It can’t exist to have a TV commercial on the Super Bowl that you can point to and say, hey, that’s ours.

– Hey, we did that.

– It’s gotta drive sales, it’s gotta drive revenue and it’s gotta be focusing on the right thing. So, I think really understanding your business top to bottom is critical for any good CMO.

– And could marketing also help with the delivery or the service of the product or service? They can help create happy customers, too.

– Right, oftentimes, in fact, we talked about something sales, marketing, service, all these things really do fit together to create a satisfied customer because at the end of the day, your customers become your biggest advocates. Your brand isn’t what you say it is, your brand is what they say.

– Exactly, well said.

– These are things as the digital revolution has come and gone at this point, these are skills that we had to learn as a marketer. So, I do think that things that you learn as a marketer, things that you might learn as pain points in the sales cycle often funnel back into the customer service aspects of what you do. The more you can solve the problems of other departments, again, understand the business, you can become a better CMO.

– Exactly, I love it and you gave a really good example, which I wanna reiterate, which was sit in on a sales call. Understand the sales process otherwise, whether it’s sitting in on a sales call or whatever. I love that. It is brilliant. I think you gain so much insight doing that.

– I definitely agree. I’ve got clients where I’ve actually gone and sat in a home watching someone try to make a sale and while painful and awkward, I really learned a lot about what makes that company move.

– So, that’s number two business skills, understanding the business and how marketing fits in, how marketing can help all the departments. Number three.

– Number three, a broad marketing understanding, online, offline, understanding different channels. I was very lucky. I started my career in direct mail. I then moved into understanding direct response television. I understand brand television. I got a chance to do brand advertising. Then as digital became a channel, I started first back in the days of banner ads and understanding the broad digital marketing and how traditional media was done. Now, it’s social media, it’s ad words, it’s really all of those things and by understanding all of those different channels, as a CMO, you can really develop good strategic solutions, but don’t rely on any one channel. For instance, I’ve learned for some clients your digital results are really affected by what you’re doing on television. So, understanding that media mix, that marketing mix. It’s not just a world anymore where people are shopping in one channel. You’ve gotta really do it all.

– You know I agree. I love the media mix. I love to see how the different channels touch one another. I love to look at attribution and see if we can solve that or otherwise find patterns in attribution, so that we can leverage those channels and deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time. I also think and I’d love to hear your thought on this is measurement. When you try to measure one channel, you can’t measure every channel by cost for acquisition, cost per lead or ROI. It’s not fair, right?

– Right, every channel’s got it’s own set of metrics. And looking at them all together and building what I call a market budget model where I can take different marketing channels. So, market budget model essentially is a fancy Google spreadsheet. But essentially, what you’re able to do is you’re taking different marketing channels and you’re putting them all in the same spreadsheet to be able to track different costs, different costs per acquisition. For instance, I did one early in my career, where I was able to manipulate the marketing mix on a monthly basis. Do we need to be more efficient, do we need to drive more sales? Because it’s not always a zero sum game. You can’t always be efficient, you can’t always be as effective as you wanna be, you can’t spend as much as you want–

– You have to experiment, too.

– Absolutely. And find the balance. You don’t just find it overnight. I like the spreadsheet, it makes sense. You can track it maybe month by month and see what fluctuates and what have you as you change your media mix. But there’s so many variables, like the creative, for instance.

– But that all fits into the market budget model is really looking at all those things and knowing what are the different factors that can contribute to campaign success or ultimately campaign’s failure.

– Sure, it makes sense. Number four.

– And it’s funny, it really ties right into number four, which is curiosity. I think you have to be curious. I think you can’t be a good marketer without wanting to know why and how. And sometimes, that’s where again a market budget model I can put all the numbers in front of me, but I really have to be able to have the questions of going, well, what does that number mean and how did these numbers interact with one another? What are the variables I can isolate and what do they mean? And what are the new forms of marketing out there? Because marketing’s always changing.

– Always. I mean, you see that in your world all the time.

– I see it all the time. All the time, yes all the time. We were talking about the example of Gillette and Dollar Shave Club and it’s like Gillette almost had a monopoly on the market, whatever you wanna call it, but they were expensive and you had to go to the store. Dollar Shave Club comes around, and they’re like, hey, we’ll just subscription model.

– Right, will that work for our business? Somebody had to ask that question.

– Exactly and so that’s good. Curiosity around new channels, new platforms even.

– Absolutely.

– Because Snapchat wasn’t a thing four years ago.

– That over 25 years of marketing understanding the impact of different channels and having to understand what new channels are. Snapchat’s a great example. Snapchat comes out, everybody says you’ve gotta be on Snapchat.

– Pinterest, oh, I remember that one.

– I’ve yet to find, there are brands that need to be active on Snapchat. As a direct marketer, I always wanna know what’s my cost per acquisition, I wanna know the numbers.

– And how does that channel help me–

– How does it help my business? So, being able to really investigate all of these things and understand which ones are right for you, you have to be willing to experiment. You can’t still live in TV, magazine and newspaper world. As a marketer, you’re not gonna get very far.

– Totally agree, man. Totally gotta be curious. You gotta be curious around channels, about platforms, about the competitors. You gotta be curious about creative, everything. You just have to be life long learner, I think, I don’t know.

– And not be afraid to ask tough questions when you need to. I think that also fits into it. And I guess really the last thing–

– Yeah, let me tie it together. If you’re curious and if you understand the business and you’ve taken the time to understand the business and you got the people skills, then you can be a…

– I think you can be a change agent.

– Yes.

– Look, it’s a very popular phrase right now, especially among the business community, but this idea that as the Chief Marketing Officer you can be a change agent. You understand people, you understand the entirety of the business, you built those relationships. You understand your customer base and you’re curious. I think you can really affect change inside of an organization. I think you look about the emerging workforce and it’s a very different workforce than I came into. And it’s a different workforce than my father came into, he’s still active in the workforce. And being able to make those changes. I remember when my father struggled with an idea like casual Friday and if you’ve been wearing suits to work every day, now what do I do? And while for my generation, that was just well, we don’t wanna wear a suit every day. Why can’t we come in natural on Friday?

– Why can’t I have some jeans on a Friday–

– To now, being able to understand everybody wants to come to work in jeans every single day.

– And have your dogs at work, for instance.

– Right, there’s a dog here, it’s great.

– And work from home.

– And I think what you can do as a marketing officer is you really have the ability to take these things and go, okay, how do we turn this into a positive for our company? How do we create the structure and the boundaries that lets people express themselves and lets people feel comfortable because ultimately, you have to give people a place to work where they want to work.

– I agree.

– And I think a chief marketing officer more than most times a finance person or an operations person or a technical person can really come in and help connect these dots and create a company culture that you can be proud of.

– That’s brilliant, Jeff. You make me think of another example where understanding the business, the CMO can help with recruiting, too.

– Absolutely. Can help with expressing the culture of the… Because that’s a persona, that’s someone that you’re trying to reach as a CMO.

– It’s another target audience.

– It’s another target audience, thank you–

– I just did a series of recruiting videos for a company that weren’t about what the job is and here’s what the tasks that are required and here’s what you do.

– It’s why us?

– Right, why us? What kind of a person wants to work here? What do those people like about life and what do they get out of this job that go beyond just the spreadsheets and the numbers and the sales process?

– It goes back to your point of knowing the business and what the business needs. You might be a CMO at a company and sales might not be your problem. It might be fulfillment is the problem. How can I as the CMO come and change the exec team’s view of the marketing to say sure, we’ll keep helping bring the leads in, but we can also help with fulfillment, too, by I don’t know, recruiting for example.

– Absolutely, there are all sorts of things that go into building a company and the CMO should really be at the center of it.

– They have a seat at the leadership table. They need to be at the center of it all.

– Right, and I don’t think you can live and succeed as a business anymore in something that’s very siloed. I think you really do have to bring people together. And I think most companies, that’s one of the things they look for their CMO to do. It’s interesting, I did not go to business school. I do not have an MBA.

– Me neither. And I often find that companies say I’ve gotta have a Harvard MBA for my CMO and the reality is that what you need is somebody that’s curious, that understands people, that can get to know your business, that understands marketing and isn’t afraid to advocate for change. And I think if you have somebody with those characteristics, that goes so much further than any coursework, book learning or degree will do for you.

– You know I’m gonna agree with that wholeheartedly. Not to knock on the MBAs. That’s great, too, because you have foundation, but at the end of the day, you gotta learn by getting your hands dirty and I completely agree. How can you know all of the different marketing channels if you haven’t touched them and haven’t seen them in action? How can you manage people from reading from a book? Eventually, you can bring those theories and do it, so I’m with you, man. You know I agree wholeheartedly. This is really good, Jeff. I really appreciate your time and this perspective you bring. It’s fantastic. I know that you have this unique perspective. I know that you’ve worked with us and with clients and you know. You know what it takes. You’ve done it yourself, so appreciate you coming on and doing that.

– Thanks for having me. I hope to be back soon.

– My pleasure. Thank you all out there. Hopefully, you enjoyed this. Jeff Goldscher, Put it in the description and all that, so we can find some new friends.

– Fantastic, I’d love to meet them.

– That’s what’s up, cool. Thank you all out there. Take care.

Jeff Goldscher

Jeff Goldscher

Arsham Mirshah

Arsham MirshahCEO & Co-Founder

Podcasts Info:
Creative + UX
News + Business

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