Siri Belenki, CMO at the sustainability platform Worldfavor, shares her best decision as CMO last year, as well as which decisions she had changed in retrospect, about how she thinks the role of the marketing manager will develop in the future and what she - from a marketing perspective - guess we will see more of during 2023.
Investing in sustainability and transparency has become a hygiene factor for Swedish companies in recent years. This, in turn, has led to a whole host of startups and scaleups with a focus on sustainability popping up, not least in the tech space.
Worldfavor is the platform that helps companies worldwide keep track of their sustainability work. Siri Belenki has worked as a marketing manager for five years. Today, they help over 30,000 organizations keep track of and strengthen and promote their sustainability work. The customer list includes Oatly, Visma, Nudie Jeans, and Systembolaget.
Taking on the role of CMO at a scaleup differs from well-established companies. She believes that the interaction between market and sales will continue to be essential for companies that want to succeed with their marketing. Siri explains:
– Thanks to the internet and the customers' purchasing behavior as an enabler, we will continue to see a direction where an increasingly large part of sales becomes an integrated part of the marketing function. That is positive for the marketing team and organizations in general. The marketing function will become even more customer-centric.
“Many outside the marketing function think that it is only about
to make a smart campaign, and the leads will come in."
We talk a bit about the CMO role, and Siri admits that one of her not so good decisions as a marketing manager over the years is related to pushing launches too quickly relative to how far you've come in the product. So, what decisions in her role as CMO have historically been the very best?
– From day one, we took ownership of marketing revenue targets. As a team, we got an evident and value-creating focus for the organization, greatly facilitating budget discussions for us. It became a key for decision making and scalability.
Siri elaborates on her thinking when it comes to how to assemble a marketing team:
– Today, we have a team that has started branching into its sub-functions: Marketing Operations, Product Marketing, Brand & Buzz, and Content Marketing. The team has grown with us as an organization. Given that we were a start-up and now scale-up, the focus has been on "growth," building awareness in existing and new markets, and last but certainly not least – enabling predictable lead generation.
The past and the future
Worldfavor will focus on smarketing in the future. Siri justifies the reason and also tells us what she thinks 2023 will mean, both for Worldfavor and for marketers in general:
– You must see the marketing team as a function delivering revenue targets. That said, I am very optimistic that organizations are getting there.
– Seen from a global perspective, we are moving into financially more uncertain times, which also impacts the marketing function. It will probably be a budget issue for those who fail to connect the marketing and the revenue. In the tech sector, it's generally about changing to profitability, affecting the marketing teams. So to summarize, we will probably see smaller budgets and more focus on revenue and profitability.
Siri also believes that inbound leads are becoming an increasingly important factor when it has generally become more challenging to reach through outbound in the market. Something that affects the distribution of resources between sales and marketing, but also the focus of the marketing function. Another important factor in SaaS B2B is webinars.
– Covid forced everyone to change from physical events to working exclusively with webinars. Even now that everything has started to go back more and more, webinars still work better than ever. We went from going from around 100 participants to close to 1000 on several webinars. I love the scalability of webinars compared to physical events. It is also more sustainable and resource-smart for both the participants and us. Face-to-face meetings are still important, but I'm optimistic about the webinar trend.
Tips from one CMO to another
Finally, Siri offers her best tips for future CMOs. Tips that she wishes she had received along the way.
– Understand the business and dare to own your goals, especially the revenue goals and your budget. Set a clear plan for long-term and short-term goals and work data-driven; if you know that you have to snowball a lot, it is vital to think scalable from the start and not just build for what should work today.
– Many outside the marketing function, especially CEOs, tend to believe that it's just a matter of making an intelligent campaign and the leads will roll in, and that strong SEO as an example, is something you can do in a week. Building up brand awareness and self-playing lead machinery takes time and requires the right resources, you might need to invest time in educating stakeholders internally to understand that and to get the right resources to do so.