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5 Steps to Becoming an Amazing CMO of an Iconic Brand

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a CMO of a sales and marketing behemoth?

We just got a pretty good idea of what it’s like from HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar. What better place to catch up with Kipp than INBOUND 2019?

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Staying true to your convictions
  • Investing in your most vital resource
  • Analyzing data
  • The #1 responsibility of a CMO

This post is based on a live podcast with Kipp Bodnar. You can listen to the full episode here and below.

Have conviction

What is it like being at a company like HubSpot for 10 years?

Kipp: Hard. It’s exhausting. It’s wonderfully exhausting. 

I always tell people it’s like running a marathon without an end. It’s like you finish a milestone, but then there’s another marathon in front of you to run.

I think back to10 years ago when we started HubSpot. Our software wasn’t that great. We didn’t exactly know what we were doing. It was the early days and there were a lot of people who just inherently trusted us and believed in us back then. 

I look at what I’ve done over the last 10 years. It’s just trying to repay that trust. I wanted their trust and faith in us to be well-placed and I take that personally. 

For me, it’s been about trying to live up to the trust and the expectations people had of us and just the potential of all the people I work with. I work with just the most amazing group of humans you could ever imagine and we’re capable of doing great things

You have to have conviction. You have to believe in something. If you don’t believe in anything, you’re going to just lip service everything. But, if you truly believe and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re going to do the right thing. 

You’re going to walk the walk and you’re going to be able to inspire people, whether it be your own team, your customers, whoever that might be.

Invest in your people

What are two or three things you suggest focusing on?

Kipp: Nobody focuses enough on people, whether it’s the people you work for, work with, or work for you. It’s everything. 

I spend a third of my week hiring people. I interview every person that we bring onto our team. I don’t care if they’re a junior web developer or director of marketing or anybody else. 

I want them to know me. I want them to know what I stand for, what our team stands for. I care deeply about that and I want to know them. I want to be able to have a conversation with them anytime. 

We’re a big group of folks now so I don’t always have that interaction. It’s harder to have that conversation down the road, but I also want to know that they’re a marketer, this work is hard and you’ve got to be in it and you’ve got to be passionate about it to really do it well.

I want to see that firsthand. I think too many times people get pulled into the mechanics of the work they do and not enough time into, are the right people doing the work that we’re trying to do? 

Quite frankly, if you’ve got the right people, so much of it washes out because then you say, hey, I’ve got great person. This person is great at these things, so I’m just going to take these other things that we’re thinking about doing off the board because I want to focus on what this person’s strengths really are because I know that’s going to help us be successful. 

That’s the number one thing that I’ve tried to do. I think has made an impact: obsess, obsess, obsess about the people I work with. Trust the people you work with implicitly while still pushing them to do work that they are capable of.

Focus on the data

What metrics, as a marketer, do you obsess over?

Kipp: I think marketing is best when you can be as focused as possible on the data.

As you scale metrics, everything’s interconnected. So, I look at the aggregate more than I do the breakdown. I want to see if there are more people coming to my business, my website, downloading my content, signing up for my free applications month over month. 

Are those people growing at the rates that I had planned and invested that they would? Are those people having good experiences? Are they chatting with us? Are they requesting product demonstrations and all those things at an increasing rate? 

Are we actually making real investments to give them better automation, better content, better information? 

If I’m doing those things, then those numbers are going to improve.

Develop a daily mix

What does the typical day of a CMO of HubSpot look like?

Kipp: I’ll have parts of my days that’s interviewing and hiring. A part of my day is just managing and helping.

I try to have a few hours where I can just help people do real marketing where we are getting better at different areas we’re focused on. Whether that be our content strategy or our email marketing or our chat or whatever that may be. 

We’ll do deep dives and figure out how we can actually get better, what our blockers are to actually improve there.

There’s no typical day, but there’s a typical mix to a day, which is people stuff and some administrative stuff. But, what happens inside that mix changes week to week.

The #1 responsibility of a CMO

What’s the most important job of a CMO?

Kipp: Hiring great people and managing great people. That’s it. My job is people.