What is most important to think about when forming a marketing team? What goals will the CMO be measured on going forward, and how do you get marketing and sales to work towards a common goal? To get some answers, we sat down with Yasmin Tilles, CMO at Unikum, to talk trends, cross-functional team collaborations, and what challenges she predicts future CMOs can expect.
Yasmin Tilles started her carrier as a project manager at IDG, where she later became Business Manager for the Event- and Education series Webbdagarna. New challenges led her away from events and into a new role as CMO at Detectify – a startup focusing on IT security. At Detectify, she built a dedicated marketing team from scratch. An experience she has had great use of in her current role as CMO for the EdTech/SaaS company Unikum, where she once again finds herself building a team and strategy from the ground up.
As if that wasn't enough, she is a popular lecturer in marketing who runs her projects outside office hours. A great example is the organization Mentor, which offers group mentorship to young boys and girls to give them strengthened self-esteem, increased empowerment and a stronger belief for the future.
Based on her previous experiences as a CMO, Yasmin believes that the role of the CMO will develop from being measured on leads generation to supporting the whole customer journey in a more integrated way.
– To only be measured on leads generation has been a reality for many CMOs, even though marketing teams’ work really broad. The amounts of MQLs and SQLs are an important KPI for CMOs, but up ahead I think we will let marketing support the whole customer journey, including work with the existing client stock in a more integrated way. In our team, for example, we already have set goals for both revenue and sales segments, and therefore we work with budget and dialogue with the customers naturally.
Yasmin sees increased knowledge of everything digital as given for future CMOs, but highlights the importance of increasing competence in law, sales, revenue-generating activities, tech and questions related to HR that has to do with how you develop prosperous, flexible and effective places to work.
– Now and in the future, I will keep looking at the company as a whole and don’t get stuck thinking of marketing as an isolated island. I keep my fingers crossed for many more cross-functional projects and want to make sure to continuously gather knowledge outside the office – from other industries, roles, countries, markets and more.
We get talking about the future. Yasmin believes that the uncertainty of the world situation and economic growth will affect many plans. Tracking, GDPR, and the Schrems II conviction made it illegal to transfer personal information to the USA if the company can't support it based on the foundations of GDPR, whose rules on third-country transfer are already stringent. All this is what Yasmin believes will be even more relevant for marketers to deal with during 2023.
“We must find other ways to follow up the effects of what we do and relate to the fact that attribution models might not give us the whole truth.”
– Improved product marketing within B2B, where video content och Feature Marketing are two ways to stay relevant and catch interest, will also be important moving forward. I think even more focus will be put on Employer Branding, where companies must be transparent about where they stand in the discussion of remote work, flexibility and company culture
– On the other hand, I think we will see less of the hunt for “qualified” leads. For example, when someone has downloaded a whitepaper and then gets spammed with phone calls, emails and homing pigeons. It is an outdated idea. Just liked the fixed idea of tracking every activity. A lot of the research within B2B is made within what’s called Dark Social, so we will have to look at other ways to follow up on the effects of what we do, and relate to the fact that attribution models might not give us the whole truth.
Yasmin wants to ensure that as much of the production as possible can be made in-house to keep a high pace. She emphasizes the importance of developing the understanding of all target groups in a natural way when she forms her marketing team. The balance between the different roles in the team are important to distinguish what to make in-house, and what to be put on external resources.
– I have a graphic designer and a content manager in the team, which makes us produce a lot of things ourselves. From event material, campaigns and webinars to blog and social media posts. What we use external resources for is paid social, SEM and new developments of the web.
Yasmin develops her thoughts:
– In the marketing team, we also have goals for budget and two dedicated salespeople who focus on a sales segment in preschool. Another important piece of the puzzle is that we have a person from the product team, with great knowledge about our target audience, who has marketing as her cross-functional team. She has more than 20 years of experience in learning the audience’s everyday life, which is invaluable. It increases the effectiveness enormously!
“Increasing the work with retention and keeping existing customers is often cheaper to close a leaking funnel than spending the marketing budget on chasing new customers.”Yasmin believes it is also important to keep track of trends, and highlights some that have influenced her work in the last three years.
– A trend we obviously embraced was to change the marketing plan to digital activities due to the pandemic, which has affected how the plan still looks today. Among other things, we invested in webinars, which were very well received by the target group, so it is something we have continued with even though the restrictions have eased up.
– Since we have the responsibility for a sales segment in our marketing team, we have jumped on the trend to increase focus on retention, to keep our customers. 2,5 years ago, we established several actions, market initiatives and working methods to increase our retention. Increasing the work with retention and keeping existing customers is often cheaper to close a leaking funnel, than spending the marketing budget on chasing new customers. There are of course other trends that affect everything we do, such as automation or data-driven work, but that has been discussed for a long time now. With a small team, it's all about priorities, so we haven't been able to jump on every trend, but instead focused on building a strong foundation.
One of the best decisions she’s made as a CMO during the past year, is to intensify the work with content marketing, where the focus has been on creating valuable content for their target groups that isn’t connected to their products.
– We have used webinars to package our content marketing and increase our brand awareness. Last spring, we reached about 5 000 participants for a webinar about preschool. We often have very high participation levels for webinars, using thought leadership content through invited profiles.
According to Yasmin, a less good decision was to put in too many physical events in a short time during the spring of 2022.
– All pandemic events were moved forward and carried out during the same period, while we had several digital events. It became stressful for the team and difficult to maximize event participation before, during and after planning.
In a time where more and more marketers talk about the increased importance of relevant and personalized communication, Yasmin sees great room for improvement.
– We market to four school forms where each has several different users such as students, teachers, pedagogues and principals. All user groups need different messages and offers. It’s not only about what you say, but when. We must adapt our communication to the schedule of the school year or budget processes within the municipalities. The more data we can use to understand how, what and when we should communicate, the better marketing we can create. This is one of those parts where I see we have a lot left to improve.
“I will take the discussions around Product-led Growth and Product-led Sales within B2B with me from 2022 to improve.”
AI, video advertising and storytelling – there are many concepts marketers would like to highlight a bit extra during 2022. Therefore, it isn’t difficult to ask Yasmin to choose a word that she thinks sums up 2022 in marketing.
– Although December has been characterized by the talk of AI and text generation tools, I say the discussions around Product-led Growth and Product-led Sales within B2B and
the role of marketing teams shift to become more of a sales method. If you want to dig into the subject, I recommend checking out my house god Elena Verna.