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Brand vs. Demand: Kyle Lacy & Justin Keller on Allocating Marketing Resources

Author Sangram Vajre Category Community

Demand gen. Brand. Product marketing. Growth. Team.

There’s a lot to consider as a marketing leader. The easy is answer is “do all of it.” But the reality is a lot more complicated.

Growth imposes change upon the role of the modern marketer. What starts out as a quantitative, demand gen-driven role will often evolve into a qualitative, brand-oriented leadership position. With that comes a struggle between both sides of the brain — and all parts of the customer journey. Marketing leaders are front and center to the battle.

Kyle Lacy and Justin Keller, both VPs of marketing, joined me on the #FlipMyFunnel Podcast to give some insights on managing the complexities of the leadership marketing role.

Kyle brings years of experience as a global director and content marketer from SaaS powerhouses like ExactTarget and Salesforce, and he currently serves as the VP of marketing at Lessonly.

Justin has experience growing various SaaS companies, and he currently works as the VP of marketing at Sigstr, where his team won the ABMy for the Best Pipeline Acceleration Campaign earlier this year. (Skip to 0:57 in the video above to hear more about their winning campaign.)

Together, Kyle and Justin are a powerhouse of advice for tackling marketing in today’s complex environment.

Let’s dive in.

Be Flexible as Your Role and Your Company Grow

The role of a modern marketing leader requires a wide variety of competencies and skills. But it’s not just technical and strategic skills. You must have a high degree of emotional intelligence to build relationships with your colleagues, your customers, analysts, media, and beyond.

As a company grows, leaders find themselves moving from a more specialized role to a role that requires an obsession with the entire customer journey, from prospect to upsell. This is especially important in the software world. You need to bring customers into the funnel, but you also need to fiercely support and advocate for your current customers.

Qualitative Results Increase in Importance

Because of the evolution of the marketing leadership role, your mentality around budgeting must also shift. At some point in your organization’s growth trajectory, you have to be okay with spending money on results that are difficult to measure.

You will have to invest in brand.

Big brands — think Salesforce, Starbucks, GE — know this well. There’s a certain stage, especially in software companies, that you will have to accept spending cash on tactics, perhaps events or conferences, that are focused on influencing future revenue, instead of simply creating direct-source revenue.

Remember the Tiffany Ring

If you go to a Tiffany & Co. store right now and purchase a ring for $6,000, you won’t be able to sell it for more than $1,000 to any other jeweler. You’re paying for the brand.

Exorbitant? Sure, but there’s a lesson here: For a while, the trend in marketing has been highly quantitative. Everyone wants to measure everything. But Justin notes a shift that’s happening.

He built his career as a growth marketer, and everything was about the numbers. But as Justin’s career grew and he began working with larger companies, the qualitative became equally important. But measuring qualitative results requires more in-depth thought, and it’s difficult to measure.

This goes back to Tiffany’s. There is a premium on brand — on the things you can’t always use numbers to analyze. It’s hard to quantify why Tiffany’s is so much more expensive than comparable jewelers. But we all know it is.

Too often, it’s the things we can’t easily measure that are the most important.

(Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure traditional brand and revenue metrics. They are critical for B2B teams to measure and understand, but they aren’t everything.)

Last Thought — Timing

You can’t focus on everything at once. The role of a marketing leader is…well, apparently everything.

Emotional intelligence. Right brain and left brain thinking. Quantitative analysis and qualitative results. People management. You wear a seemingly infinite number of hats.

So, what to focus on? There is a timing aspect here.

Depending on what state of growth your company is in, you need to apply your skills and resources to the area that will make the most impact right now. A CMO at an early-stage startup will have very different priorities from a marketing leader in an established enterprise company. That’s growth, and it’s a beautiful thing.

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This post is based on the #FlipMyFunnel podcast, episode 165 with Kyle Lacy and Justin Keller. To hear this episode and many more like it, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen in your browser.

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