For marketing leaders, it can be hard to create the kind of trust needed to give them a respected voice within their company. It’s a common misconception to think of marketing teams as limited to their campaigns and activities, but in truth, they have much more to offer.
The key to tapping into the full potential of a marketing leader (and through that, a marketing team) is to foster a culture of communication and confidence from day one.
When that’s done, marketing leaders can start working with all departments to create strategic brand value, break out of their typical label, show contribution to revenue, and send growth marketing efforts to new heights.“And that still, to this day, is why I love marketing so much, because you're at the nexus of everything in the company, you get to touch every department and you get to kind of facilitate that culture creation.”
How to Get Your Seat at the Table as a Marketing Leader
In this week’s Growth Marketing Chat episode, Alison Furneaux, VP of Marketing at CyberSaint, shares how marketing leaders can establish themselves as trustworthy team members who can positively impact a company’s success.
She touches on the importance of:
Storytelling as a marketer
Taking a step back to see the bigger picture
Fostering collaboration between departments
Educating non-marketers on your team
By starting marketing efforts early, working closely with other departments, and keeping metrics in perspective, marketing leaders can get a seat at the table and become invaluable to a business.
Check out the full interview to find out how leaders can use marketing as a strategic asset rather than a tactical one in order to see revenue grow.
CAROLINE: Hi, welcome to Growth Marketing Chat. Today I'm here with Alison Furneaux. She's the VP of marketing at CyberSaint. Alison, thank you so much for being with me today.
ALISON: Thank you. It's great to be here.
CAROLINE: Great so my first question for you is, what did you want to be when you grow up? Did you want to be a marketer?
ALISON: No, that, yeah, that never really crossed my mind much, to be honest with you. And I wasn't really the kind of kid that had like, you know, I want to be a firefighter. I want to be a doctor, you know, kind of a personality it's very go with the flow. So I knew a couple things, you know, I, in watching my family has been in the company building space for a long time and technology. I got to watch a lot of amazing entrepreneurs build amazing teams. And so from a young age, I knew that I wanted to lead an amazing team. I wanted to build a company and build a culture where people were the best version of themselves in and out of work. And they felt like they could thrive there. And that still like to this day is why I love marketing so much because you're at the nexus of everything in the company, you get to touch every department and you get to kind of facilitate that, that culture creation. Aah, it ended up working out my priorities from a child's point of view, you know, to where I am now.
CAROLINE: That's awesome. That's awesome. Congratulations on that. What it brings, you know, as a question to me is that I agree with you, marketing is such a central place in the company, right? And we get to work with all the departments, but in a lot of tech companies, it's really difficult for marketing leaders to establish themselves as a company leader, right. And to be able to influence the culture and to be able to influence where the company is going and to kind of have this trusted position within the leadership, because a lot of time people don't understand what the other people in the company does.
Don't understand what marketing is and what it does. And you know, if you can get this level of understanding, obviously you don't get buy in and you don't get the trust. So how do you go about building trust with you know your leadership team, your CEO, the board, like all the people that also call on central to the company?
ALISON: Yeah. Well, in my perspective is coming, you know, so everyone knows from a small company, a startup, right? So I came in as really the third full-time person in my company. So it was the co-founders. You know, they had started the company that created this amazing idea. And I was like, that is cool idea. I want to go and help bring it to market. And so I've been in the company now for four and a half years, getting an early obviously helped. Right? When you're in early, we're able to show the value of marketing really quickly, especially when you're starting from zero and tell stories about, Hey, look at this amazing lead that came through or, you know, look at our logo that we made know that's new. I remember when myself and my marketing director, you know, created that, that was so fun. So that's when you're at the initial early stages, it's a lot of storytelling. It's not a lot, you know, you can always track metrics, but it's a lot of storytelling because they might not understand the importance of the metrics yet, once you get bigger though, and you know, now we're at a growth stage.
We're much bigger now than we were like four and a half years ago. The stories I tell are different and the topics that I talk about with the C-suite and the board are different. So I talk a lot about, you know, from day one, I talked about pipeline generation and close deals, but now it's at a mass where, you know, I talk about that a lot more, that obviously helps align priorities. The board cares about growth. The CEO cares about growth. The other executives care about growth, but I also talk about, you know, where the market is going. I think it's easy for marketers to get stuck in this tactical mode where they're just, you know, they're doing all of their marketing activities, right? The email, the webinars, you know, the website, all these things. And they don't, it's easy for us because we're so detail oriented and focused on performing at a great integrate way. There, it's hard for us to kind of come up for air sometimes and look at the market and, and really help direct the strategy based on the market shifts.
That's like one of my favorite parts of my job and being able to tell those stories on what are our competitors doing? How are we positioning ourselves differently? How does that relate to our messaging that we're putting on our website? And why is that attracting amazing clients or customers? That's what gets the board excited? That's what gets gets the C-suite excited. So as much as metrics matter, I think it's a lot about the stories you tell and depending on what stage of growth you're at, you're going to tell different stories that will matter more or less to different team members. Yeah.
CAROLINE: Yeah. That's amazing. I think it's the key, right. Like you need, like the performance is like, you need it, it's your baseline. You need performance. You need to bring in needs, you need to bring in revenue, but then you don't, you need to not stop there. Right. You also need to like, be strategic and think about it not only today, but like, what are you bringing to the company in the future?
ALISON: Yeah. And it, and it takes, it takes a lot of, you know, guts as a marketing leader. Who, again, like you said, in tech, a lot of times it's traditionally looked on as, you know, someone who's just performing all these activities, you know? Well, yeah. To put yourself out there and really just insert yourself into all the different departments, like call up your chief product officer and have, you know, weekly by weekly meetings with them discussing roadmaps so that you can better influence your messaging and like all these things. I think if you're, if you're doing marketing well, and you're doing positioning and messaging well and brand, well, you have to do that. And ultimately that'll add a lot of value to the business. Cause brand value matters a lot.
CAROLINE: It does matter a lot. And it influences performance, right? It's not two separate things. It goes together.
ALISON: Definitely. Yeah. I think that's, that's something even recently, I've been talking a lot with my other executives and board about is just the importance of, of brand value on your enterprise value. And it's something that we're really excited about. So it's, it's good. It takes time, but once you get there, it, it matters a lot.
CAROLINE: Yeah. It does matter a lot. Awesome. So, yeah, just a couple more questions. One is, you know, like you just mentioned this one example, but there are a lot of things that we do in marketing that, you know, we hear a lot about them and you can like, you can look it up, but it's really difficult for people that are not in marketing to understand how they relate to each other, you know, how it actually works, why matters. Do you have like insights that you can share on, Like how, how do you communicate and educate your team members so that you guys are on the same page?
ALISON: Yeah. So I think education is obviously super important and to get people's, especially at the C-suite level and the board level to get their time and focus, it can be difficult, right. They have alot going on. So I always align when I do meet with them, whether it's one-on-one or in a group, I always aligned what I'm talking about to their current priorities, because if you can educate them in that moment, opportunistically, they're more willing to listen and they're more willing to absorb what you're talking about. So say, you know, you just raised a bunch of money and the board has given you the mandate to hire people, use that as an opportunity to meet with them and say, or even just send them, you know, a deck of like, these are the people I'm hiring and these, these are the different things they're going to be doing and why it matters, you know, that's relating to what they care about, but it's also allowing you to educate them on why it's important that you are even hiring these people in the first place. Right. So I think it's about educating them opportunistically rather than kind of like, you know, forcing them into it.
CAROLINE: That's pretty good. I really like it. All right. Great. So my last question for you, what are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned as a marketing leader?
ALISON: A lot I've learned a lot, especially, you know, at this company over the past like four and a half years. Yeah. I would say just the importance of collaboration between departments and how, you know, I knew marketing always from my past experiences, running marketing was at the nexus of everything, but when you're in a high growth startup, it's a whole new world and you have the opportunity as a marketing leader to run operations, to run strategy if you want it. And again, it takes that, that level of just like inserting yourself into other departments and inserting yourself into those conversations. But you can add a ton of value. I think I've learned just how much difference it can make to a business's growth if they prioritize marketing as a strategic asset, rather than a tactical one. And I've been able to seen it, see it firsthand, you know, and be part of it. So it's been like fun.
CAROLINE: That's amazing. Well, Alison, thank you so much for spending time with us today. I really, really appreciate it. And this was such a fun conversation.
ALISON: Awesome. Thank you.