Marketing Masterclass: Assessing 11 of the Leading Thinkers in Marketing Today

Marketing, as the saying goes, is part art, part science. The fundamentals of the job, or the science part if you like, includes writing ability, coding, and a strong command of enterprise systems like CRMs, marketing automation, and content management systems.


However, it is the unquantifiable part of marketing which continues to intrigue – the art. What is it that separates the top performing marketing leaders from the rest?

To help us get to the bottom of this question, we profiled 11 marketing leaders who have mastered their craft.

Nick Utton, CMO, BMC

nick-uttonWhen it comes to marketing and art, a profile of current BMC Software CMO, Nick Utton is as good a starting point as any. Appointed to his current role in November 2014, Nick has demonstrated a consistent knack for marketing campaigns that resonate – most notably during his tenure as MasterCard CMO when he launched the “Priceless” campaign. He also oversaw E*Trade’s “talking baby” campaign, during a highly successful nine-year stint as CMO at the company.

In spite of these successes, Nick warns that results don’t come easy. In fact, Nick estimates that marketing today could be described as 70% science complemented by 30% art. Providing some insights into his success, Nick told CMO magazine that “I test extensively, I plan continuously”. On the MasterCard “Priceless” campaign Nick explains “we briefed five agencies, we got 32 campaigns back, and we tested two ads intensively using quantitative research. Pretty much the same with E*Trade. I mean, this stuff just didn’t just happen.”

Rigorous testing, detailed planning, and a razor sharp instinct have helped Nick achieve a high level of performance throughout his career. Yet, past successes count for little in B2B marketing today and Nick acknowledges that “you’re only as good as your last plan, your last campaign”.

Samir Gulati, VP Marketing, Appian

ap_web_leadership_samir_gulatiSamir Gulati is the VP of Marketing at Appian. Previously he worked as VP of global marketing at Pegasystems and has also held similar leadership roles at General Electric and Software AG. Since 2007, Samir has helped to position Appian as a leader in the business process management (BPM) market. A BPM and SaaS expert, Samir executed a successful brand leadership program at Pegasystems which saw the company become recognized as the leader in the rules-driven BPM market.

While Samir’s success may be attributed to his deep knowledge of the BPM marketplace he has not been afraid to create new markets when necessary as demonstrated by his time spent at SAGA software. He has also pointed out the benefits of marketing internally as well as externally. When he joined Appian, he asked the VP of Sales for the top 10 things they need from marketing. Samir quickly worked his way through the list and built up the credibility of the marketing department within the organization.

Suzanne Miglucci, CMO, ChannelAdvisor

Suzanne-Miglucci-Head-shotSuzanne Miglucci brings over 15 years experience in high-tech marketing and business development to her role as CMO of ChannelAdvisor. Previously she occupied the position of senior director of global procurement solution marketing at SAP. Miglucci also held executive marketing and business development roles at SciQuest, Arsenal Digital Solutions and Computer Associates. In three years at ChannelAdvisor, Miglucci has helped the company achieve double-digit revenue growth.

A major challenge for all CMOs today is staying ahead of the technology curve. Suzanne has spoken about leveraging vendors “by sending out an RFP and having technology vendors bring you up to speed on the latest and greatest technologies.” Her focus on cross-functional branding is another notable aspect of Suzanne’s strategy. Under Suzanne’s guidance, ChannelAdvisor track their customer’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is based on how the customer rates your service, but also tracks if the customer is looking for alternative solutions or if they are marketing for you. If the NPS is low, the cross-functional team will create and implement projects to improve this score.

Kim Metcalf-Kupres, VP & CMO, Johnson Controls

3d503aaAs VP and CMO at Johnson Controls, Kim is responsible for driving profitable growth and advancing marketing and sales capabilities across the enterprise. With more than 30 years multi-industry experience, Kim has successfully occupied a number of roles in sales, marketing, and product management. She joined Johnson Controls in 1994 and her pivotal role in growing the Power Solutions business in both mature and emerging markets saw her elected as CMO in 2013.

Since assuming her current role, Metcalf-Kupres has worked towards achieving “operational excellence” which is based on spotting customer or market issues before the competition. She also has an interesting stance on new and emerging technologies citing a “healthy paranoia about disruption”.

Kim also helped to build a unified story for Johnson Controls – not the easiest task when your company is a multi-industrial B2B giant with over 170,000 employees in 150 countries operating five distinct business units. Speaking about the unified story Kim explained “It’s essential that our messaging reflect that our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. Perception has a direct connection to our stock price and market valuation. Unified messaging drives confidence in the organization and our future and builds employee pride. It’s a rallying point.”

Kim’s has two pieces of advice to marketers taking on a similar challenge.

  • Research: Examine how key people at your organization are talking about your company and what you would like to change.
  • Engage Company Leaders: Give ownership to key position holders within your company.

Allison Checchi, CMO, YP

0a5bd86Allison leads YP’s marketing, branding, and communications efforts to consumers, local businesses, and the advertising industry. Allison joined YP in 2011 and has been core to the company’s evolution as the leading local search and advertising company. She previously worked as a Principal in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications practice at Bain.

Since taking on her current role, Checchi has spearheaded the transformation of YP, formerly known as, from physical phonebook to a top media property on the Web and mobile. While undergoing such a change, Checchi makes sure to measure the impact marketing has on lead generation, prospect management, and overall traffic. Under her guidance, the lead generation team at YP increased their contribution to revenue by 70%.

Other highlight of Checchi’s tenure at YP was the “get found” initiative aimed at helping small and medium sized businesses take control of their online presence. This campaign helped Checchi and the marketing team at YP increase their contribution to revenue.

There are three elements Checchi considers as vital for marketers today.

  • Technical skills: Ensure your team is stacked with people who have the skills and technical competencies to drive efficiency across the marketing organization.
  • Understand Your Buyer’s Journey: Checchi explained to CMO magazine that “understanding your customer’s path to purchase is really important in light of digital”.
  • Your Story is Key: Creativity still has a vital role in marketing today.

Shirish Lal, CMO, Century Link

2702024Century Link CMO, Shirish Lal has occupied his current role for over 10 years – a period which has seen annual revenue grow from $2.6B to $18B. Lal’s responsibilities include leading a 500 person marketing team with accountability for Consumer and Business marketing with responsibilities over Pricing, Marcom, Product Management, Digital Marketing, and Distribution Strategy. All in all, Lal is accountable for $12B in annual revenue.

A recent guest post by Lal in Forbes provides some insight into his philosophy. According to Lal, customer satisfaction remains key, yet with such rapid technological innovation, this is an area that sometimes gets overlooked. Lal states that “only by identifying customer needs and challenges can businesses help capture all this digital transformation has to offer. Now’s the time for IT leaders to wake up and put the customers first…before it’s too late.”

Christine Nurnberger, CMO, Bottomline Technologies

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 3.43.11 PMChristine has occupied her current role since September 2014. Her previous experience includes executive roles at Infor and SunGard. A passionate marketer with a track record of success, Christine brings a metric driven and collaborative approach to leading all marketing across Bottomline globally.

Since taking on her role at Bottomline Technologies, the former Marketo Marketing Visionary of the Year Award Winner has set about turning the marketing department into a profit center by creating a “revenue performance marketing engine.” Flexibility has been key to Christine’s success who explains that “change is the only constant in business, and a person’s ability to lead through times of expansive change will make or break their team’s performance, morale and job satisfaction”.

Sally Bament, SVP Global Marketing, BTI Systems

3d95c63As VP of Global marketing at BTI Systems, Sally can call on over 25 years of marketing experience in the networking and telecommunications industries. At BTI, Sally oversees BTI Systems’ overall marketing strategy, including portfolio marketing, corporate marketing, field marketing and communications.

The rapid increase in cloud adoption has seen BTI post record earnings. Most cloud providers have more than one data center, either as a backup or due to the massive growth of the cloud. BTI’s metro networking connects these data centers – usually located within 100km of each other – as one. With the company is well positioned for the rest of 2015 and beyond, Sally has cited three things for continued success.

  • Continued expansion outside North America
  • Entry into more distribution partnerships
  • Continued emphasis on execution

In a recent interview, Sally provided a nice insight into the strategy that has served her so well at BTI. One of her main priorities she explained is “focusing on what we do well, and not getting defocused which is always a challenge with a smaller company”.

Connie Stack, CMO, Digital Guardian

connie-stack-headshot (1)As CMO of software security company Digital Guardian, Connie leads all aspects of the company’s global marketing efforts including strategy, messaging and positioning, brand development, demand generation, digital marketing, channel marketing, website messaging, social media strategy, and analyst and public relations. Previously she helped to scale Veracode where, as VP of Marketing, she oversaw the marketing team as well as inside sales and sales operations.

Agile marketing plays a key role in Connie’s strategy. Her specialties include strategic brand marketing and online marketing tactics like SEO, landing page optimization, PPC, email marketing, and website design honed during her time as CRO at search marketing company, Wordstream. Alongside her undoubted leadership qualities, Connie has been a driving force behind company culture throughout her career.

Since joining Digital Guardian, Connie has overseen a successful rebranding effort helping the company achieve a rapid growth rate in the process.

Tom Davis, CMO, Forbes Media

maxresdefault (1)Tom Davis is responsible for Forbes’ brand marketing, sales development and advertising revenues. With 25 years of media management experience, Davis uses technology and business innovation to advance Forbes’ advertising partners. With twenty years of ad sales and management experience, Tom is something of a digital pioneer who has overseen the creation of marketing solutions for Forbes’ advertising partners.

Under Davis’ stewardship, the company has not been afraid to embrace big data. Forbes now uses data to inform the content and advertising on their site. For example, writers will get compensated based on how their story does in terms of shares, page views, comments, and other key indicators.

In a 2014 interview, Davis provided an interesting glimpse into his approach at Forbes when he explained how they treat the Forbes business as a start up. As revenue opportunities from the traditional publishing model dried up, Forbes seized the opportunity digital presents and digital revenue now outweighs traditional magazine revenues by 2:1.

Tim Scott, SVP and CMO, Land O’Lakes

tim-scott-hed-2015Tim oversees B2C and B2B branding and marketing strategy at Land O’Lakes since assuming his current role in April 2015. He is responsible for building marketing competencies across all businesses and geographies at the company.

Tim has built a reputation as a trusted advisor and skilled marketer, working with many complex and well-known global brands throughout his 31-year career. He previously held leadership positions at McGarryBowen, DDB Worldwide Communications Group, FCB, and JWT.

During his tenure as Mcgarrybowen CEO, Tim played a key role in consolidating a major deal with Kraft as well as helping to establish a foothold in Brazil. While changing to the client side with Land O’Lakes, Tim is is well-versed in the packaged-foods world, overseeing accounts like Kraft and Mondelez at McGarryBowen, and other brands like Frito Lay and Wrigley throughout his career.


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