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Martin Ericon, CMO Oxceed
Emil Björnius2024-01-25 14:195 min read

The most successful CMOs in 2024 will be those who productively apply AI

Martin Ericon, CMO at Oxceed, on why he doesn't believe in working with agencies that "know everything", how to get the marketing department together with few team members and what trends he sees ahead in marketing.

He originally graduated from business school, but unlike many of his friends who studied finance and strived for a career in banking or consulting, Martin wanted to be an entrepreneur and work with brands and marketing. For more than ten years, he ran his own business.

His track record includes branding and marketing in the automotive industry, running his own co-working space, selling merchandise collections, making websites, arranging padel trips, producing podcasts and freelancing in brand strategy and marketing. In January 2020, he got the opportunity to join the team at Oxceed – a SaaS company that provides a service for financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting.

– I sometimes joke and say this is my first job and that I finally got to use my university degree. I was a little nervous going from being self-employed to being an employee, but in such an entrepreneurial company, I haven't regretted it at any point. It has been an exciting journey so far, and it continues.

Oxceed offers a product for financial executives who want to provide financial insights in an efficient way and monitor their financial situation in real-time. Martin, therefore, admits that the product has been viable in both good and bad times. The pandemic, inflation and uncertainty in the world may not benefit Oxceed directly, but these factors have made it more critical for companies to keep track of the numbers:

 In our product, we have functions such as budgeting and forecasting, liquidity planning, cost analysis and reporting, for which there is a natural demand, and despite more challenging times, we have still been able to continue to grow. However, 2023 turned out to be a different year. As certainly experienced by many companies, the customer’s purchasing decisions took longer. When it comes to marketing, search volumes and ad impressions went down, and it became more difficult to convert them into leads.

– Having conducted a thorough strategic review, moving into 2024 we have a better insight of our ICP and product-market fit, a more precise positioning vis-a-vis our competitors, we have sharpened our messaging, and have a clear view of the unique selling points that we want to focus on. We have also put more emphasis on upper funnel activity to build brand and demand, from which we can already see positive results.

 

"I think that for many, 2023 was an exciting but also overwhelming year. The most successful CMO’s in 2024 will be those who actually manage to apply AI in an productive way"

 

Oxceed's marketing team consists of Martin and one more person. This means that the main challenge consists of getting the most output possible with limited resources. According to Martin, the CMO role requires both width and depth, covering both strategy and practical expertise in many areas. He elaborates on how he thinks the role will develop going forward:

A marketing manager's job description can be long. This makes the role exciting - especially for someone like me being an entrepreneur in my soul and want to have a holistic view of as much as possible – but it can also be a bit frustrating at times. To succeed as a CMO in the future, I think it will be critical to prioritise efforts on strategy (e.g., customer insights, product-market-fit, branding) and to delegate or outsource the tactical parts (e.g., content, design, performance) to the greatest extent possible.

With a new year ahead of us, it is interesting to both analyze the past year and, not least, to forecast the coming year. Martin gives his best insights in marketing:

– I think that "do more with less" has the potential to become an appropriate concept to describe 2024. When I talk to colleagues in the same role as me, many are expected to achieve more this year with the same or a lower budget than before. For us, and probably many others, 2024 will be about achieving even more with less. Continued growth but with higher efficiency comes as a natural consequence of the fact that the golden rule for SaaS companies is no longer "growth at any cost" but "profitable growth". It will be essential to be able to prioritize.

He continues:

 Another thought is that we will have a more mature approach to the development of AI. 2023 was like a tidal wave of new AI services with ChatGPT at the forefront, and for many, it must have been overwhelming trying to keep up. The year has also been marked by the looming concern about whether AI will take our jobs. I don’t believe 2024 will be the year when an AI robot replaces the marketing manager, but The most successful CMOs in 2024 will be those who actually manage to apply AI in a productive way. So instead of "AI took my job", maybe the watchword for 2024 will be "AI saved my job".

The best decision of 2023

An experience that Martin learned a lot from was when, at the beginning of 2023, he wanted to collaborate with a more prominent agency. The goal was to find a partner who could take on a more extensive assignment that would include, among other things, brand strategy, content production, advertising, performance, web and PR. The idea was to outsource as much as possible to the same agency in order to minimise the number of suppliers and thus become more efficient.

– I made several attempts with several different agencies, but it didn't work out. It's tempting when an agency says they "can do everything", but my experience is that it doesn't add up. Today, I trust more in an agency that dares to specialise in one or a few areas and deliberately turns down assignments for which they know they don't have the right skills.

 My best decision was when I realised that collaborating with a large agency would not work and pulled the handbrake. It did generate some start-up costs and we lost some time starting over, but it proved its worth. Today, we work with a mix of agencies, freelancers and service providers who are skilled and efficient in their respective specialist areas. It requires a little more coordination from our side, but on the other hand, we have a better control of the production, and it enables us to maintain a good quality.

Finally, Martin throws in some tips for CMOs who are new to their role:

For anyone wanting to become a CMO, try to be as versatile as possible. You will need both width and depth, learn to think strategically and train your practical skills. Even if you, as a marketing manager, won’t need to execute all the tasks yourself, it will help you in being clear in your requirements towards suppliers and understand the challenges that your colleagues may be facing.

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Emil Björnius

Emil works as a senior content marketing manager at Aimfor. Get in touch with him if you want help with moving your brand with storytelling.

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