Over 100 B2B tech marketers registered for our live Q&A with Robin Daniels, CMO at Matterport. They tuned in to hear Robin’s advice on strengthening a B2B tech marketing career, having goals and learning the right skills to be successful.
Robin’s long and impressive career spans top tech companies like Salesforce and LinkedIn, where he rose up the product marketing ranks and became CMO at speed. We were honoured to have Robin as our special guest at this brand new event to help FINITE with their B2B tech marketing careers.
This event was sponsored by 93x – the digital marketing agency specialising in SEO and PPC for tech and SaaS businesses. And The Marketing Practice – the B2B marketing agency built to close the gap between marketing engagement and business results.
Keep reading to learn Robin’s best tips and key takeaways to better your career path!
Summary and best B2B tech marketing career tips:
We kicked off the session with a brief introduction from Alex, who outlined Robin’s experience in B2B tech marketing.
The first question asked was ‘how did you start your B2B tech marketing journey?
Robin explained how he was born and raised in Copenhagen as a self-confessed tech geek. He built websites as a freelancer and wanted to help people shift into the digital world that was becoming more prominent at the time. His first job was at a small tech company in Copenhagen where the team was rather passionless. He didn’t want to look back on his life and think he hadn’t had the guts to follow his dreams. Robin was enamoured with stories of Silicon Valley, where he wanted to live out its promise of ‘if you work hard, you can make it.’ So, he set off to San Francisco.
Even though Robin was focussed on web design, Robin struck the interest of a VP Marketing and was lead into product marketing. This mentorship enabled Robin to rise up through the ranks of product marketing and then onto executive leadership and CMO. Although Robin chose to specialise in product marketing, he’s aware of alternative routes typical of B2B tech.
Robin identified four paths to CMO in B2B tech: Product marketing, brand marketing, revenue marketing and communications.
Robin set the goal to be CMO by the time he was 35. Slightly off the mark, Robin was 36 when he became a CMO. What he realised was that to be an executive marketing leader, you need to be master of the many areas of a business. This is why it seems that in B2B, product and revenue marketers seem to rise up the ranks more often than other specialisms as these roles gain more exposure to the wider business.
This raised the question: Should B2B tech marketers specialise early in their career?
Robin explained that when you’re first starting out, exposure to many different areas is key to figuring out what you like and what you don’t. Whether or not that’s events, PR, field marketing, revenue marketing, launching products. Do as much as you can to find what you’re good at and what your passion is.
However, Robin then advised that at some point in your career you have to specialise in order to be the best at something. Not everyone can do everything equally well. As a modern CMO, you have to understand each discipline but you don’t have to be equally good at everything.
Should B2B tech marketers work for startups and small businesses or large enterprises?
It’s easier getting generalist experience in a startup or small business and you can gain many growth marketing skills that are key to indicating personal success. The danger of being in a big company is you get pigeonholed into what job you’ll do and how to do it, but at a big company you learn from the best. In a small company, you may not have as many mentors you can learn from.
“Don’t pick your company, pick your boss.”
Robin outlined the key things to look for in a leader: someone who understands and cares about marketing, and someone who believes in you.
Then, an audience member asked about diving deep into a discipline:
As with any vocation in life, you have to dive deep to get your own calling card. Robin has never seen anyone get to be Head of Marketing without leaning into their career. You have to overachieve and give it your all at some point. If you do it in a smart way and with the right balance, you won’t get burnt out and you can maintain stamina.
Robin’s tips for reaching the next steps of a B2B tech marketing career ladder:
- Set goals that are visible to people and then overachieve them quarter after quarter.
- Act as though you already are the role you want to be.
- Create a chorus of supporters around you. Get people to know what you do and let them know that you do it well.
- Be someone’s who is a delight to work with and helps motivate the team.
- Make it not about you, but about the success of the whole team.
Robin was asked, when should B2B tech marketers start getting into leadership?
Robin cautioned that too many people want to get into management too early, without mastering a discipline first. You have to have a certain level of empathy, compassion and know what motivates people. When people have 10/15 years experience they’re ready for senior leadership because they know what works well.
Rushing into leadership and management too soon can mean you’re not aware of how a team works best.
How important is formal marketing education?
Robin can’t remember the last time he looked at someone’s education on their C.V. Senior leaders do have MBAs because the more you learn the functions of a business the more you can align, so an MBA can be a shortcut to leadership.
One audience question brought up the importance of communication in B2B tech marketing
To the executive team: Every person is different, so you always need to find new ways to communicate. You need to learn how to speak to the executive team in different ways. If you can learn how to speak the language of the business, if you can explain how you’re driving growth, that’s what they care about. Growth is whatever you define it as. Ultimately, a marketing officer is really a Chief Growth officer.
To your audience: Focus on making it happen because it’s not going to happen if you don’t focus on it. Show consistency in messages. Messaging change can be a gradual journey so as not to be jarring to an audience. When you get to the point of sharing your new messaging and story, if you support it with the right logic and facts, you’ve got a winning combination.
We’re all human at the end of the day. Speak like a human and you’ll hook somebody in.
Dealing with the short tenure of a CMO
There’s no correlation between the impact you have and tenure. It’s hard to be a CMO these days because you’re also expected to be a culture carrier and create a brand that everyone falls in love with. Marketing is by far the most difficult C level discipline in Robin’s opinion, even though everyone thinks they know marketing. You can embrace this, because it means that they care, but it does get annoying when people are second guessing what you do. Over deliver and over communicate.
Somebody from the audience asked: Which B2B tech companies do you look for for inspiration?
Robin has always tried to work with companies who bring a human sensibility to marketing and infuse a brand with soul. He gave the examples of Gong, Salesloft, Salesforce and Asana.