How to take your company’s marketing from “startup” to “grownup” with Christian Campagnuolo

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Today on 3-Minute Marketing, I’m chatting with all-around badass CMO, Christian Campagnuolo. He’s currently CMO at Revature, the largest employer of entry-level technology talent in the U.S.

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Prior to Revature, Christian has had a remarkable career in marketing — he found his roots in brand marketing at Disney, then transitioned into agency life and built his own agency. He eventually found his way into the tech world, heading up marketing for renowned tech brands like Blackboard, Logi Analytics, MicroStrategy and most recently EVERFI.

Christian has so many gems, we could have fit five episodes into our conversation! But we got some particularly good nuggets when I asked him, “What’s the playbook for how a new CMO can take their company’s marketing from startup to grown up?

Show notes:

  1. Start off by observing what’s wrong, not working or absent in the current marketing programs.
  2. Do you have individuals that fulfill the core functions of a world class marketing team? Identify those talent gaps and build up the perceived value of those roles in your organization.
  3. Get your marketing team delivering “delight” for your customers and internal stakeholders quickly. Do this by clarifying your team’s priorities, e.g.: “Here are the 5 things you need to accomplish in your first 90 days.”
  4. Break your CEO’s stated goal down to specific tactical initiatives and timelines to help your marketing team understand the journey they’re embarking on.
  5. Listen to your sales team’s calls at different stages in the sales process — ask, “How long does it take for prospects to understand what our company does?” Then create and provide materials for your sales team to arm them to surgically shorten that learning curve for prospects.


– You’re listening to “Three Minute Marketing,” where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders and distill their knowledge into actionable bite-sized insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– Your highly sought after individual, ladies and gentlemen, Christian Campagnuolo, a CMO of Revature, formerly EVERFI, formerly agency owner, overall badass dude.

– Thanks, than you for that. That’s really nice.

– So say that I just got hired as CMO of the startup that wants to turn grown-up, what’s my playbook, like in a nutshell, for the first, like, three years?

– You got to start off and you got to observe what’s wrong, right? And you got to figure out the things that are not particularly working or the things that are absent. Do you have individuals that are experts in content, that are experts in demand generation? The key functions of a world class marketing department that are digital marketers, that are brand and PR people. And then you’re ultimately need to then build up those particular roles, and help the organization understand the value of those roles quickly and start to trust them quickly. The underlying piece is all of them have to start being reliable and delivering delight very, very quickly. And giving them some clarity as to here are the five things you need to accomplish in your first 90 days. Here are the 10 things that you need to accomplish in the first year. Like, understanding, building those roles and helping the department leaders, as well as the leaders of the company understand that. And then ultimately, is you have to start to really drill down. But a CEO is going to say your main goal is going to be, blank. Whether it’s a B2B organization, and you’re going to be contributing to this. And breaking all of that down and helping the department understand like, this is the way it tactically breaks down. These goals are big. Like, we need to deliver 150 marketing generated leads need to close win by the end of the year. And they’re, and by the way, 25 of them are enterprise, which means that it’s going to take six months. You know, helping them to understand the journey that we’re all about to go on. The other part is that you have to identify what is being said about the organization and where are the common nuggets of things. So I listen to a lot of sales calls initially. I’m listening to, what are salespeople saying? How are they objective handling? How are they talking about us? How are they summarizing? And to what level do they need to, like, break down what this organization is doing at the beginning of these calls? So I’m listening to a variety of calls, right? I’m listening to ones that are second or third conversation, ones that are first conversation, ’cause I want to see, like, how long does it take you to tell these folks who we are? What about if that got eliminated, what does that mean? So it helps you to establish, like, what type of things do we need to be putting in the hands of the sales reps that they can send out or send prior to these calls that will eliminate part of them talking? ‘Cause the idea is,

– Wow.

– the more salesperson is talking, the worse the call is going.

– Yeah.

– You want the client talking. You don’t want to be talking. You want the client to be telling you everything about what’s going on in their universe. So you can customize what your product is back to them. Or you can say like, “This is how we’re going to help you.” So the more that we’re talking about us, the worse the call is going to go.

– That was just gem. Talk a little bit about Revature. Let people know where they could find you, and also all the cool shit you guys are doing.

– Well, thanks. So we take folks right out of college with AA or a BA degrees, no matter what you majored in, and we turn them into software engineers, really successful ones. I just got a note today that two of our folks, so we hire, we basically are paying them while they’re getting trained, and then we guarantee their placement. And so they definitely will get a job in tech and all kinds of companies like Capital One, and Peloton, Salesforce is a huge client. So is where you need to go.

– One thing that I saw, one message that I saw from your guy’s brand was like, we believe that opportunity, or that talent is equal, but opportunity is not. So there is undiscovered talent in these places that don’t just see a lot of opportunity.

– Yeah, a lot of places are hiring for skill, and skills change daily, especially in the tech world, right? So we hire for talent. We hire for what are you capable of? And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to study computer science and so on. It also opens up a lot of opportunity for folks that don’t have the opportunity to learn about entry-level tech careers. And it’s very lucrative. People could be making anywhere upwards of $80,000 within two years. We just had folks hired from our group at Peloton for 125 grand a year. And they’re less than a year away out of our program. So it’s pretty spectacular. They got paid to learn it, and now they’re making $125,000 a year plus plus at a great company like Peloton.

– Yeah, well,

– Yeah. I dig it Christian. Thank you very much

– All right, man. for your time. Yeah, and come back again sometime.

– A pleasure, man. Talk to you soon.

– All right.

– Thanks.

– Do you, is one of your, like, playbooks to make it so that what’s being set on the website and the sales materials is as close as possible to what the salespeople are actually saying?

– That’s right, and we want to provide tools and resources that coincide with where they are in the buyer’s journey. Not just the, you know, sales accepted lead or sale, you know, not just the waterfall, but like, are they trying to break status quo? Which is early in the buyer’s journey. Are they internally selling the idea that they’re going to break status quo to others? Like, you want to have assets and resources that the sales rep can utilize at each level, so it supports their conversation. So it’s not parroting exactly what’s on the web, but what it is doing is providing a bunch of support for what is being said in these calls. Like, if there’s claims, if there’s percentages, or client examples, you want to make sure that the material and what’s on the web supports the claim ultimately.

– Yeah.

– And so that is the story that you’re trying to build. You’re building a communication architecture that says, so from the beginning to end, and there’s , you know, 10 steps in the buyer’s journey, that you’re going to hit on the key component of that particular portion of that journey, and know that you have materials and the website ultimately that will help support those claims. So send the client to the site. Like, tell them, drive them in your emails, go look at this video, or read this white paper, or whatever. So during the beginning, you’re basically building that comms architecture saying, “Okay, so our core story, this is is our value proposition.” And then, you know, it’s not as simple as it sounds because depending on how complicated your audiences are, right?

– Right.

– Who the buyer is, what marketplace it is, the verticals that you’re selling into, SMB versus enterprise. You sort of have to start to tailor make some of that stuff to kind of correspond. But ultimately, you’re building this support system for sales.

– Yeah.

– And allows them to to utilize the website, not as brochureware, but as a tool to drive cold to closed quicker. That’s ultimately, that those are the two big things.

– These are new episode topics coming up over. Like, we could just do this for hours. We’re going to get like 12 episodes out of this.

– Yeah.

– But I like that. So the content from the sales team does not parrot what it says on the website, it supports it, it reinforces it, right? And you have different key messages that must be delivered. You’re not scripting at all, word for word. It’s like key messages. And that’s what you mean by everybody tells the same story. You said something interesting. You were like, you know, internally, like, we can fight, like, let’s fight. Let’s battle, let’s chaos. Like, we can be ugly internally, but when the curtains open, everyone says the same story. And that’s what you mean by that probably, ’cause-

– Right, you don’t want to prescribe. Sales reps hate being prescribed anything. They don’t want, I mean, they might want scripts and the ideas like, look the script is just the foundation. Be you on the calls, be you in the meetings. Take this, and like, it’s like jazz. I don’t, if there’s any people that play instruments or if you play an instrument, you know like in order to play jazz, it’s all based off of a foundational song or rhythm that you’re kind of got in order to riff. Somebody’s going to take you out of that song sheet and into a riff. And that’s when you could just be melodic and kind of jam. But then, one of the base instruments, so the piano, the drums, somebody’s going to signal to come back to the base music. And unless you know the song sheet, you don’t know that they’re cueing you to kind of come back in. And so that’s the same thing that goes for a rep, right? So they’re going to be, they could riff, but you got to hit on these points. Here are the five things that you need to make sure that you’re hitting on. I don’t care what order they’re in. Read the song sheet. The client is telling you what they want to hear. That’s why you get them talking. And then you use that to support them. So I’m not giving them scripts. I’m giving them like, hey when you encounter this type of question, this is the type of thing that you want to be able to make sure that you’re hitting home. Here are the five things that you could use to do that.

– Yeah.

– Or here are the three things that you can use.

– ‘Cause think about it in a broader, more global scale. Say that you’re like a larger organization, and you’re selling to other larger orgs like Cisco or whatever, right? Cisco’s a client, but they could be a huge client. Say you’re a B2B. You could cross sell the heck out of Cisco if you want. So if everybody is telling the same story, if everybody’s touching on the same five bullet points on certain questions and singing the same song, you will get improved sales performance, right? Like, that’s pretty much a given.

– Absolutely.

– If they’re not, think about if they’re not. If they’re not, then the cost of that is extraordinary. You couldn’t even calculate probably the potential cost of it, because now your customers are confused, one customer saying the other thing went like, and this happens in our business. Like, we have a massive whale client, and we’re working with like two of their small divisions, and we could spider web across, you know, 100 of them.

– That’s right.

– But, you know, we’re doing one thing for one division and another thing for another division, so they don’t know when to talk about us or how to talk about us. And if one of them talk, if one of ’em is like, “Hey, you know, WebMechanix is good at Google Ads,” say, and the other one hears like, “Oh, yeah, we use WebMechanix. They do our even- based emails. Then it’s like, wow, that’s a different story.

– Yeah, I mean, cross-sell and upsell, you’re talking about cross-sell and upsell strategy. It’s almost like you have to sort of get graduated into some of that. First, you got to hear me talking about-

– Even more simplistically, even if it’s just like add to landing page strategy. If your landing pages are like, here’s the top benefits, and then your salespeople say something else, like, you’re going to lose that deal every time.

– Absolutely.

– ‘Cause they got sold by the landing page.

– Yeah.

– So if you say something else, then you you’re at a distinct risk of not selling them.

– Yeah. I mean, you need to have a lot of clarity. So, we call it, you call it your main benefit pillars. And they exist across market, right? Across audience. These are the main things that we’ve provided. You know, right now, we talk to businesses, we have a B2B marketing engine and a B2C marketing engine. And those are very, very different. We’re not selling the same thing. Matter of fact, we’re selling, the B2C client becomes the product that we’re selling in this new business. And so you need to have those pillars that are like, ubiquitous. This is like a universal piece. And a lot of people then, that ramps up the brand.

– So how do you approach that? We’re about to get like four episodes out of this, but how do you approach, if you’re selling to two audiences, B2B and B2C, what’s your playbook there? ‘Cause you have to have some similarities that you-

– You do.

– Right?

– You got to have a common thread, right? So as, you know, a guy that was sort of steeped in brand, right? I was baptized in brand, at one of the biggest brands in the world, at the Walt Disney company, right? So brand overrides everything. Brand leads. So you have to find a brand and a message. Not an advertising campaign, but an overarching brand, like a narrative, and a mission, and a vision that sort of like, drives the organization as a whole, like an umbrella, if you will.

– So it’s not just a marketing slogan, it’s an operational creed, kind of.

– Right. You know what people get mission and vision, like there’s, if you go out and read mission and visions, it’s actually very, very simple. A vision is a to be, right? It’s what we strive to be as an organization. And a mission is what we need to do every day in order to be that vision, right? So it’s a to be and a to do. And so if you create a to be and a to do, that is overarching, then you can serve as many audiences, I don’t care if you’re talking to aliens, or dogs, or whatever. If you’re marketing, once you have a to be and a to do, you’re in a good place. The other two pieces of a brand charter that roll it out is the to say and the to feel, right? The to say is your positioning and the to feel is the essence or what’s called the brand essence. So brand positioning and brand essence. So you have a to be, to do, to say, to feel. And they work together. To be and to do work together, and the to say and the to feel work together. So I say these things about us, so audiences and people feel this way about our brand, right?

– Yeah.

– And those things can be a little different depending on the audiences, right? But the to be and the to do need to be solid. They need to be what you are trying to be and what you’re doing every day to try to be that.

– So how do you respond if you’re talking to the performance marketing team and they’re like, “Hey, well, you know, this thing is killing it on Facebook. Like, why do you want me to incorporate these fluffy feelings into it?” Like, what’s the response?

– So, you know, I use this, you’ve got young kids, Chris, so, you know, like, as they’re starting to grow up more and more, they’re going to maybe not like their vegetables as much. And so what I used to do when my kids were little was I would make tacos, and everybody loves tacos. But when I was making them, I would take carrots and grate them into the meat. And I’d take zucchini and grate it in with with the meat and the taco mix. And when they’re eating it, they don’t understand that there’s carrots and zucchini inside the taco mix. They have no idea.

– Right.

– They’re just eating the tacos, right? It’s not like they’re eating a big piece of carrot. And that’s the way that brand finds its way into action-driving, demand generating marketing materials, right?

– Yeah.

– You don’t even, the consumer doesn’t even realize they’re being sort of fed what would often consider the soft center of marketing which is the brand message, that head and heart kind of feeling. They don’t realize that they’re being fed that because it’s sort of incorporated in the, whether it’s the music, or the headline, or things that are not as value or benefit oriented that drives the action. Or you’re doing a separate whole entity of activity that is driving brand and driving awareness, and then another set of things that’s driving the action which is the demand piece. So how do you do that if you’re a small company, right? How do you, and don’t have a lot of budget. How do you create brand messaging where you’re going to tell your board and your leadership like, “Oh, this isn’t meant to drive anything. This is just to create awareness and there’s no value there.” Well, you do an awareness survey where you say like, like if people are aware, it drives up intent. And then intent drives action. And action is what we’re looking for. So they all work together. You have to create a symbiotic marketing kind of world. You can’t just do action-driving things. You have to have some awareness out there. It makes the job of the sales team, and you have to prove all of that. And that’s sort of at the beginning of what you’re trying to say.

– You said, which I really liked, like the essence of the mission, vision, you know, thing that everybody has a different view on.

– Charter, right.

– Is to be and to do.

– Right.

– So we’re going to be the biggest at this. We’re going to do that by making the best of that, right?

– Yeah.

– And then you said that the other components were to say and to feel, what you’re going to say and what you want them to feel. So one thing that you could do is just deliver that to the performance team, but redact the part about to say. So let them say whatever they want to say, right? But knowing that the mission is to be this and to do that, right? So craft your messaging accordingly.

– Right.

– And that we want the audience to feel like this. Like we have one client, which is brilliant, I think. They have a CMO which was one of the first CMOs in my career when, there was like some delay because of colors in an ad. ‘Cause, like, the colors or the typography or something didn’t match up with the brand feel, which he basically trumped. And he said, “Hey, the core of the message is the same.” They don’t like to use fear. They’re like in a B2C financial space.

– There are no FUDs. They don’t want to use FUDs

– Yeah, they don’t want to use FUD. So that’s their thing. Like, they don’t want to make people feel more afraid than they already feel. Hi, that’s my son. And so that’s their litmus test. So we can, you know, do a lot of things outside of that, even if it’s not exactly on the brand guidelines. And I thought that was a really cool position. And it sounds like you’re pretty much there too, ’cause, you’re right,

– Yeah.

– you can weave it in. You can weave them in together.

– Yeah, I talk a lot about tools, like, not rules. Everybody’s talks about brand police, you hear about brand police and all of these other things. And it’s like, it’s not about police. It’s about tools and not rules. Like, we’re going to create assets, and resources, and tools that accomplish the things that we want, that you say you need to accomplish. The types of things we need to make sure that we can support, the claims that we need to make. And I am not as concerned about the, we’re building you tools, I’m not giving you the rules, right? Things need to have a color palette, and a framework, and those types of things, but if you utilize these tools, the message is going to get communicated, because we have this overarching sort of guidelines of like, we’re trying to be a company that does this, and we’re trying, and in order to do that every day, we’re doing these things every day to be that company. So is that, if you’re hitting on those things, you’re doing the job of what a brand charter needs to do, right? You’re accomplishing it. And that’s how you serve of multiple audiences. Think about, you know, the biggest companies in the world that are serving, not only, but multitudes of audiences, you know, that go all the way down to like little kids like Amazon, and Google, and like the ones that you think it’s easy. It’s not easy. What they’re doing is incredibly hard. They’re just really good at it, so it makes it look easy.

– Yeah.

– You know? Yeah, it’s just really, really hard. And they’ve got a lot of resources.

– Yeah.

– A lot, to do it.

Christian Campagnuolo

Christian CampagnuoloCMO

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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