May 4, 2023

What B2B CMOs Need to Know about Career Management

Searching for your next CMO gig? Need help educating your CEO and the board? Wondering how you can expand in your current role to set you up for the next one? 

This episode with expert executive recruiter Erica Seidel has it all. Erica founded The Connective Good, a boutique recruiting firm that specializes in CMOs, and with over a decade of experience, she has one of the strongest reputations in the industry.

Tune in to hear all the wisdom she shared with CMO Huddles in a recent Bonus Huddle—with practical takeaways and pithy insights and ensure a long, happy career.

What You’ll Learn  

  • How to approach CMO interviews 
  • How to improve CEO and board relationships  
  • How to expand in your current role  

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 343 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned


  • [2:04] Meet Erica 
  • [3:12] New CMO role: Improve the odds of success 
  • [6:45] Educating your CEO (three types) 
  • [11:43] The peacemaker-changemaker paradox 
  • [12:50] Questions to evaluate CEOs 
  • [14:22] Of metrics & marketers 
  • [16:20] What successful CMO placements look like 
  • [20:52] Red flags & unsuccessful placements 
  • [24:06] How to improve board relationships 
  • [28:05] Expanding in your current role 
  • [33:45] Switching industries 
  • [38:46] Want a job? Tap your network 
  • [40:51] CMO to CEO: The building blocks 
  • [42:43] Dos and don’ts: Career Management 

Highlighted Quotes  

“CMOs don't fail for lack of talent or lack of effort, they fail for lack of clear role design and lack of alignment.” —@erica_seidel Click To Tweet

“CMOs have to navigate this peacemaker-changemaker paradox. You are hired to make change, but to do it in a way that’s comfortable.” —@erica_seidel Click To Tweet 

“I like to tell people that there's a recency bias. So, whatever you did yesterday, you are going to get more of a look than something totally different... Unless you have a strong introduction in.” —@erica_seidel Click To Tweet 

“Radically collaborate even when it hurts. Giving a budget to another area, that hurts, but it could be the right thing for the for the company.” —@erica_seidel Click To Tweet 

“The interview process, it's like Italian cooking. What you leave out is just as important is what you put in. Don't puke up your whole history. Practice your story so it doesn't sound rehearsed, but it sounds natural.” —@erica_seidel Click To Tweet 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Erica Seidel


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at and tell her Drew sent you.

Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing obsessed individuals. Alrighty folks, you’re about to listen to a Bonus Huddle, a specially curated Huddle that we run once a month with experts sharing their insights into the topics that are most important to our CMO community.

The expert at this particular Huddle was Erica Seidel, the founder of The Connected Good, a boutique recruiting firm that specializes in CMOs, she joined us to discuss career management. So let’s get to it.

Hello Huddlers. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Erica Seidel. Her philosophy is that recruiting needs to look less like procurement, and more like one-to-one sales and marketing. Erica has placed several Huddlers in their roles and is one of the few recruiters that I’ve heard about with a pristine reputation as a force of good in the industry. Her core focus is placing CMOs and VPs of marketing in B2B SaaS companies, very specific size of 20 million to 200 million. Previously, Erica ran Forrester Research’s Global Advisory business for CMOs and digital marketing leaders of fortune 500 companies. Erica has an MBA in marketing from the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania and a BA in International Relations from Brown. She has been on the advisory board for the MarTech conference, and she serves as a coach to the Ascendant Network for the industry’s top digital marketing leaders. And she co-leads the Marketing Tech In the Hub invite only event series. So welcome, Erica!

Erica Seidel: Thank you so much, Drew, it sounds so much better when you read it.

Drew Neisser: So I am happy to be your press agent, you know, just give me the word, I’m happy to do that. So we’re gonna try to break this conversation into three segments, we’re going to try to cover a lot.  One part is improving the odds of success when you start a new role as the CMO. Part two is setting yourself up for your next opportunity. And three, getting beyond CMO to boards and other executive roles. Okay. So the fact that CMO turnover is notoriously high is not news to anyone. And there are lots of theories as to why. What I think is a great place for us to start is, what can CMOs do going into a new role to improve their odds of success, which may include leaving on their own terms?

Erica Seidel: I remember making a slide at one point and it said something like “CMOs: they don’t fail for lack of talent, they don’t fail for lack of effort, they fail for lack of clear role design and lack of alignment.” And so there’s some key things that need to be in alignment. And I think when they’re not, that is when things go haywire. So budget expectations, first of all, between CEO and CMO. And then once that CMO is achieving those expectations, you have to look at alignment with the budget, the timing, the authority, and the other resources beyond budget. In my experience, where things have gone awry is where a CEO thought that marketing would change tomorrow, as opposed to, okay well, the person needs to come in and build that foundation. And maybe the data is a total mess. And so, yes, they could start running a ton of campaigns, but if they did, they wouldn’t be able to measure them. And so often there’s that foundation building that CEOs don’t realize has to happen. So I think that’s a big one. And then I think another big one is ,we all know that the role of a marketing leader is  half doing marketing and half educating on marketing. And if you’re a first time CMO, that might be surprising that you are doing a lot of educating up towards a CEO and a board. And I don’t want to say dumbing it down, but you talk to a CEO differently than you talk to a CMO. And sometimes marketers have a hard time with that in terms of, maybe the data that they share is more about MQLs, and people on a page and a number of assets created or what have you, when they should be talking about pipeline revenue, market penetration, whatever it is. I think the other, the third thing that comes to mind, and I’m open to your reaction to this is just sometimes, so I’m doing this podcast series right now on boards and CMOs, and how that how they align. And I did one where it was a CMO and her board member and investor talking together. And the CMO was saying she always wants to meet those investors before she says yes to a job. And so if it’s a situation, like a lot of my searches are private equity backed businesses, where you know, the investors are like really in your shorts, even in the end. So if you’re not aligned with the investor ahead of time, and if that person is not a champion for you as CMOs, then things can go off.

Drew Neisser: Totally, that’s been my experience, as I’ve watched situations where CMOs haven’t been able to leave on their own terms, if you will. But it feels like every single CMO, certainly in Huddles, knows that. It’s all about managing expectations and finding out what those expectations are before you take the job. Yet, even when they ask, it changes.

And so this gets to this next question, since you’re sort of in SaaS land. So many of these CEOs are first time CEOs, so many of them are inexperienced CEOs. And so this expectation of the magic, that marketing can do wave a wand arrive tomorrow, change everything, even if there’s a product problemor a customer service, marketing can fix. But the flip side of it is they’re inexperienced as leaders, they have no marketing experience. But that doesn’t stop them. And in fact, that’s probably part of the problem. Right? They just don’t have any experience in marketing. So they know it. So what can a CMO do to sort of deal with that?

Erica Seidel: It’s such a good question, Drew. But I think marketers in a sense are use to that, right? Because everybody always has an opinion on marketing. I remember when I was at Forrester, we did a research report that was on the marketing of marketing. And it was really popular because marketers realized, hey, they need to educate the organization on what they’re doing. I think, again, the buy in at the beginning makes for fewer surprises at the end. I think there are some CEOs that are educatable. And that’s so I’d say that’s kind of three types of CEOs. The ones that are educatable, they know what they don’t know and they’re open to learning. So like, that’s fine. The ones that are just like pay, go, do your own thing, and I don’t understand it, but I don’t need to that can work fine. And then the third type is the ones that, like you’re talking about, they think they know more than they do. And so I would sometimes say, don’t work with those people, if it’s not quite right. So I think in the interview process you want to be paying attention to are you being listened to? Are you able to kind of move the view of marketing that the CEO has, maybe not on some huge level, but in some kind of evolutionary type of way, I think the other thing is that sometimes an outside voice can help a lot. So you know, maybe it’s an agency, maybe it’s a some kind of coach, or sometimes it’s the recruiter that in the process that can kind of say things in a way that people listen to. The other thing I would say is, I have actually created a list of things that people say, and the way they say them that educates a CEO. And in particular, my list started as the education on like brand versus demand, especially in B2B brand is like a four letter word. And so but CEOs always worried that CMOs are gonna start talking about like, oh, brand, they’re gonna spend all this money. But if CMOs have a way of talking about brand and growth and how they interrelate, way better. So one example is just something I saw on LinkedIn, somebody posted like, oh, it’s amazing how successful companies like zoom that have invested in their brand have become for instance. And so I started a list of specific things that you can say because again, they’re gonna sound so stupidly simple to a CMO, but that might be what gets CEOs paying attention.

Drew Neisser: You got that, stupidly simple. And that’s gonna stick with me. And I’m thinking about certain CMOs that I have talked to. And this is where I think an experienced CMO has an advantage versus a first time one, if the CMO is so confident, and I know one CMO who, in the last interview that she had, she said, here’s how I work. This is the only way I’m going to work to do this thing. If you don’t like that approach, don’t hire me. And, by the way, call my past boss. So you can understand what it means to work with me. And what I love about that approach is, this is what we’re going to do. This is how we’re going to do it. This is why it’s going to work and take it or leave it. I think it takes a lot of confidence and a lot of experience to get there. And you know, I’m just curious, from a recruiter standpoint, that’s got to be a little painful, because this is now you’ve really narrowed it because that person, the CEO, has to go, okay, I’m buying. But wow. I mean, have you encountered when you encourage a CMO when they’re doing this interview with a young CEO to take that approach?

Erica Seidel: No, I would encourage them to do some kind of sharing of work. So I think we definitely need to get real, interviews are broken, they’re just not predictive, right. So I would say you definitely need to get real. And it could be like, oh, here’s my plan. And again, I don’t think it’s the 30, well, maybe it’s a 30-69. People often put together these great plans. But then again, they’re not aligned on like, this is what it will take, I will need a team five out of five people, I will need a budget of X million dollars, this will take three months, like we were talking about before.

But I feel like a CMO, it’s like you have to navigate this paradox. And it’s the peacemaker—changemaker paradox that you are hired to make change. But then you come in the door or even before, it’s like, you have to be making peace as well. So it’s like make change, but do it in a way that’s comfortable for us. So the way what you were suggesting Drew, that sounds pretty heavy hitting because you know, the right CMOs are going to be incorporated, they’ll know how to incorporate input from other people, and know when to take it and know when to defer it like, okay, we’re focusing on these priorities for now. We need to be able to focus there, and then we’ll come back to you on that. So it seems like it’s too heavy of a hammer to do that. Okay, this is the way I work. I mean, I bet that CEO who would say yes to that might be a little bit nope toasty.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. Or just say I have other problems. I’m an address, I’m happy to have someone who’s confident in their approach and their role. And the answer is yes, this individual did get hired. And she’s still in the role three or four years later, and frankly, doing a fantastic job doing it the way that she proposed.

So great question from the Huddlers is, if we’re trying to find out the CEO and what their sort of frame is, what are the diplomatic questions that they can ask to help evaluate? You mentioned, are they listening to your ideas, but what else can they do to make sure this CEO isn’t, not only thinks of themselves as the smartest person in the room, but behaves that way?

Erica Seidel: Let me broaden the question Drew to you want to find the fit for you that makes sense. And you want a company that’s going to value marketing. And so you know, I talk to candidates all day long. And one of the questions I asked is, “What are your top criteria for the new role?” And people will often say, “Oh, a CEO, who understands marketing and wants to make a strategic investment in it.” And then obviously, I’ll just say, “Oh, how do you ask that?” Because I’m collecting these questions. And I don’t know them all right here. But one good one is just, “Tell me exactly how you see marketing playing a role in the growth story here.” Or, “Tell me, how do you define marketing?” I have this sometimes at the beginning of a search, “What does marketing mean to you?” And then there’s also, “How is it going now? In marketing? What would you change? The other person?” This is maybe not exactly on the nose for what you asked. But yeah, “At the last board meeting, what were the questions about marketing that you struggled to answer?” Because those are things that a CEO is going to want to care about. And so and if it is, maybe leads are down? Wow, that’s data. Right?

Drew Neisser: Yeah. But I would imagine, again, you mentioned there’s sort of the three types, the educatable—yeah, just go do it and tell me everything you’re going to do, and I’ll tell you whether that’s the right way to go. But I get the sense—and this is from lots and lots of Huddles— conversation, that it’s about revenue. And the fastest way to revenue and the CMOs is the clock is ticking from day one, help drive revenue period. And so regardless of whether or not there’s other issues that need to be fixed, like you don’t have a CRM, if you don’t have any kind of marketing automation, you have no plays in place. So, one of the things we talk a lot about are the quick wins, that sort of buy you time to do the other stuff. And number two, even if there’s a brand problem, don’t make that the initial problem you solve. I’m curious, in your perspective, because as we’ve talked about in Huddles it is a four letter word that a lot of—particularly in VC and PE firms.

Erica Seidel: Yeah. And it’s funny, because I was talking about this podcast series that I’m doing. And I was talking to board members, coming out tomorrow actually, and so he’s a board member, investor, former CEO. And he was saying, as the board, we assume that you as a marketer are managing your business based on numbers and based on metrics. Only show us the key ones. And we realized that maybe you’ve done a big brand revamp in service of revenue and just because you’ve spent a lot of time on it, we don’t need to see that we can see just the outcome of it. And I thought that was smart that sometimes something you spent 10 minutes on might have more impact than something that you spent like a month on, it’s the same, you know, funnily enough, if you’re interviewing for a job, you could make of 10% of your job sound like 90% of your job if you want to.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. So, if you look at your CMO placements over the last several years, what are the commonalities of the successful ones? What’s happening there? What do they look like?

Erica Seidel: Good careers. It’s three things, right? It’s, you know, successful careers, it’s good decision making. It’s hard work. And it’s good luck. So it’s a combination of those three, in general, the ones that stick are the ones where they’ve invested upfront and getting the cultural fit, right. So they’re not just saying, oh, I want nice people and smart people. Everybody wants that, like nobody says they want to work with dumb people, it’s like they really invested in figuring out is that cultural fit right for them, they’ve spent more time maybe they’ve gone early for an interview, and just like sat in the lobby, like in when we had lobbies and we were like in person. So they invested in that. They probably benefited from some market factors, right. So where they have put scale it like they’ve gotten that scale up experience and this is whatever recruiter, every CEO wants. Bring me the person who has scaled from 50 million to 100 million. And the scary thing is, sometimes you’re successful there despite marketing, and sometimes you’re successful there because of marketing. So and I think it is this kind of educate up. So you never want to tell a CEO, like, “Oh, you’re dumb, and you don’t understand marketing.” It’s more like you kind of sidle up to them. And you have that kind of ability of like educate through inception, it just helps them think it was like their idea. And people who focus and that’s another key thing. So sometimes we all struggle with shiny objects, but the CMOs, who can figure out how to focus, okay, this is what I’m going to spend time on, this is what I’m not going to spend time on. Some of them are hiring, depending on the company, you know, and the size of the situation, I’m increasingly seeing like these, like chief of staff roles, so like a COO to a CMO who can handle a lot of the operational stuff, because I mean, let’s face it, the roll is breaking, right? It’s just too big. It’s you know, you got to be inside oriented and outside oriented, and you got to focus presale and during the sale and after the sale and customer experience, and you have to think like a CFO, and you have to think like an investor. It’s just a lot. So the more that you can kind of you know, smartly resource yourself, the better. And I think there was that paradox, that peacemaker—changemaker like people who can kind of thread that needle very, very well. And people have good luck or good skills with hiring of course. It got me curious to do like a little like regression analysis, how much is luck versus, you know, market factors?

Drew Neisser: It’s really, it’s funny, because I looked at those three choices. And if I go to luck, right now, if you’re an AdTech, I don’t care how good a marketer you are. It’s a really tough thing. On the other hand, if you’re in Solar, or HealthTech, life is pretty good. Yeah. And so the luck factor, no doubt matters, because what you hope is that this company has figured out their go to market has a product market fit, has a customer base that really enjoys the product or service that you’re providing. And there’s room for growth, right, both within existing customers. And so that’s kind of the market situation with being able to choose that company and making a bet on a horse, that this horse is well positioned to at least compete. The decisions part of this first thing of making good decisions—I couldn’t agree with you more than this is the challenge. And within that focus falls there right is if you make the decision, I’m going to do 20 things when three things are going to really matter. That focus that decision can really screw you up. I also think what probably a significant decision in all of this is—the CMOs that I know that are most successful, they are bringing their data person with them  from every job. Because they know that person has their back. If they have the data, right, they at least have that covered. So I think that’s an interesting part of this. One of the things that we talked about in Huddles, and you mentioned hard work. And the job as you just described, as impossibly demanding, you could work 30 hours a day, and you couldn’t make a dent in all the things that you’re being asked to do. So we talk about trying to outsmart the job not out work at because I don’t know if anybody cannot work it.

Erica Seidel: I like that.

Drew Neisser: And that’s why Huddles exists is trying to help folks outsmart the job. So anyway, so when things didn’t work out where you’re getting a call from the company, saying, Erica, this placement did not work out. What’s that diagnosis or post mortem look like?

Erica Seidel: So it’s rare that I get a call. So by me and other executive search people, usually you’re guaranteeing that somebody is going to stay for a year, right? One time in 12 years have I had that happen.

Drew Neisser: So they didn’t stay a year. Okay.

Erica Seidel: Right. I mean, there was one time that, or a couple times, actually the company got bought a few months later, and then the person you know, so that’s a little outside of my control. There’s all this legalese around it, but it’s rare in terms of as far as it hits me. But but certainly it happens. And I think where people get stuck is where they don’t pay attention to those red flags, like probably every week, I have a couple CMOs email me like, yeah, I had these red flags when we were getting started, sometimes it’s like, they’re hiring a CEO and a CMO at the same time. So I’ve seen that where it’s like, or a CMO and a CRO and a CEO at the same time. So you’re a little bit jumping into even more of an unknown that we that you normally would have. I think the other thing is that companies are especially in like smaller tech companies that often say like, oh, we want the up and coming leader. So they’ll hire somebody who was previously say, like a director of demand generation, director of growth, to leading all of marketing, and because they’re so in love with growth, and again, a lot of CEOs are like overgrown salespeople, right? So they’re kind of in love with that. And they might not appreciate that making that leap requires actually a lot of change. You have to understand product, you have to understand brand. And you have to understand the team. And now for that new marketing leader reporting to a CEO versus a CMO, again, a totally different ballgame. I think people might kind of diminish that. And I think it also comes back to that timing—oh, we thought change would happen faster than it did. And the problem, then the CMO is on their back foot like, oh, well, of course, it would take time. This is why educating upfront, and some external validation can help. And I think that’s why they get a group like this. So you can say like, okay, here are the benchmarks, the average time for—here’s a maturity model, your data maturity is here. And the average time for a company of our size to move from level one to level two of maturity is a couple of months. And so by that I’m doing well, that’s data that a CEO would I think glom on to.

Drew Neisser: So, all of this starts with finding out what expectations, are managing expectations—obviously. And ideally, doing what you said you would do. And hopefully, that is the stuff that the CEO values, so that you’re aligning with that. Okay, I want to switch gears a little bit. So we talked a little bit about what it takes to sort of get the job and stay in the job. And it all comes, it literally all comes down to the CMO and the CEOs relationship and the board relationship and their ability to say, we want to do this, we’re on track. Doing that, right. It’s like managing expectations.

So now, you had a recent show with Kelly Ford Buckley, on upgrading the dialogue with the board, can you give some tips on how to improve those board relationships?

Erica Seidel: Yeah, I’m still in the midst of doing this podcast series, but that one was amazing. It was like, she was just hit after hit. It was great. So in a nutshell, meet a board member from the beginning during the recruiting process, make sure that you don’t feel like a deer in the headlights around the board, like see them as a resource and engage in a dialogue with them, not just during the board meetings, but outside of board meetings. Make sure you share metrics that they care about. We talked about that before. I think there’s also the offer to educate. So again, a lot of board members it’s like some stunningly low percentage. I don’t know it’s like 1% or something, I have it somewhere is very few are marketing people. It’s starting to grow. But it’s not huge.  Offering to educate them, not necessarily during a board meeting but after can be great offering of you on the business. So this one that I have coming out tomorrow with a different person, this friend of mine is CEO and investor. And he’s like, I’m looking for a marketing leader to provide a heads up display for the business, just kind of like goes to what Lutney, I think calls it, the chief market officer and again, just adding, another thing to the CMOs list, but looking outward, and where’s the business going? What are the opportunities for the business. And I think the other thing that came up in the various podcasts that I’ve recorded, so far, some of them are still in the queue is in terms of your board presentations, there’s kind of a mix of things that are the same over time, maybe once you get to a dashboard, and you’re sharing that. And then there’s the things that kind of depend on the arc of where you are in the business. The first board meeting, maybe it’s like, “Hey, this is where why I joined. And this is my rookie observations.” And then maybe it’s like, “Okay, here’s the foundational pieces”. Once you have those sorted out, and then “These are the opportunities we have as a business.” And if times are tough, then you might have a different content, we’ve been talking a lot about what’s the blend of content and confidence that you should bring, is it just all of that swag? Or is it about content? So, that’s been an interesting—I’ll say, think about that blend between content and confidence.

Drew Neisser: So watch the most recent episode of Perry Mason on HBO, Della Street. This moment down Della Street, who is not an attorney says to Perry, “I’m going to do the questioning now.” And this actress had the ability to look confident and nervous at the same time. And she presented this information in an incredible way. And this is like, if you are a first time board member, you want to be Della Street doing it the way she did it. So I if I could find that clip, somehow I will share it with the group but it is, you’re right it’s a fine line of of having the right content and being confident in the data but not so overconfident that you’re unwilling to sort of take the input. That’s why the board is there, right, is to give input. One a little sidebar, CMOs that do end up getting on boards are notoriously in the weeds. And is this is the first advice that CMOs get when they are given on the board. You’re not there as a marketer, you’re there as a board member. But they forget that. In your exploratory in the subject, find out if that’s true. I think the number is less than 17% of boards have anybody with any marketing experience at all.

Erica Seidel: Oh, that’s higher than I would think. So that’s okay. That’s good.

Drew Neisser: But yeah, that person may have gone from marketing to another role, which is a great place to to shift gears. So market’s tight. And you mentioned earlier, this square peg square hole phenomenon that seems to really be taking over hiring. So it’s like a $50 million Health Tech SaaS company, they want somebody who has Health Tech experience who went from 50 to 100 million. You’re seeing that because you already mentioned it.

But is there anything that CMOs can do in their current role to sort of set them up for more opportunities?

Erica Seidel: Yeah, and I think this is, if you’re gonna stay in one company for a while, that’s a great opportunity for you to flare out within the company and flare out and flare up. I was just talking to somebody today, she’d been a marketing leader at a smaller company, and but she, she she had like such DNA of like a chief of staff person. So we’re talking about her moving into a COO kind of role. And like one example like a client of mine, Cory Munchbach, who, the CEO of BlueConic. And she’s, I don’t know, 35 years old. It’s hilarious. And she started as Director of Product Marketing, and then VP of marketing, and then COO, and then CEO, and she just really put in the time, and so there can be value there. I’m also thinking of an example of people who have done internal internships within the company. So some of you might know, this guy named Mark Golaboy, who’s in Boston and is a marketing leader. He was at, I forget one of the companies he was at, he was leading marketing, he decided that he would spend, I want to say, a month as a business development rep. And so he was on the phone. So for that one month, he was making calls, or, you know, answering the calls. And the idea was to really learn how that function worked. And what a brilliant way to have marketing and sales walk in the shoes of a sales person or a sales leader. And I talked to one person who had extra budget and she gave it to sales instead, and another person who had extra budget or carved out their budget and said this would be more valuable to the business if it went to Customer Success instead. So I think the marketers that evolve are the ones that think business first, marketing second. It’s not about my fiefdom and my world, it’s about what will help the business. And I think, as you go through your career your ego tends to drop. So this should be easier as people kind of evolve in their careers. I think it’s also—make your wishes known. Sometimes people, they have this internal burning desire to do something different than what they’re doing. But step one to manifesting it is to share that with other people, up, out, and across.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, as you’re talking, I was thinking of a couple of CMOs, who I’ve talked to who made a deal with the CFO said, “Hey, teach me everything about finance in the business. And I’ll teach you everything about marketing. And when I teach you about marketing, I’m going to teach you about how marketing is a lever for growth. And if we do this, right, you will actually come to me at some point and say, If I gave you a million dollars, what would you do with it?” And I wonder, as you talked about it, I hadn’t thought of it as an “internship”, but using these opportunities to sort of expand your focus, which is interesting, because earlier on, we just talked about how we got to narrow our focus. Right? You know, a CMO has eight hours in a day make a 10. And they have to make some choices.

Erica Seidel: So right, I love that idea, by the way, Drew, I have to say, because when you say that you’re planting a seed, that that person at some point is going to have to come back to you and say, “Oh, I have some extra budget, what would you do with it?” So I like it for that.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And we’ve seen that play out. I mean, literally, that the CMOs that have done that have had that experience. And it dependended, some of this depended on where the economy was and how the business was growing. And somebody said, spend that money elsewhere. And because there was an agreement on what metrics mattered and how those metrics worked, and how the pipeline work, there was a clear understanding on both sides of this. So in March, we focused our Huddles on personal branding. And we talked about doing it in your current position, as opposed to just when you are between opportunities to suddenly have time, when you are presenting candidates or you evaluate candidates, is there a benefit to having established themselves as thought leaders?

Erica Seidel: It depends on the role, I would say often, but it depends, like if I’m doing a role, where the CMO role of VP of Marketing is very kind of operationally oriented, but  maybe they already have an evangelist or some kind of chief brand person, which some companies have, then they might be like, is this person more of an evangelist? Or are they more outward than they are inward? Might be the question, but in general, I think it’s good. I feel like if you feel like you want to express yourself, then express yourself for God’s sake, there’s probably something in you that needs to come out. And that’s fine. And also good things happen. You go to conferences, you meet people, it’s not just about like, let me share what I know. But you meet people and connect with people. So there’s, there’s definitely value, it’s also like, you get findable. So me as a search person, whenever I’m doing a search, I have the scouting roadmap and I look at different, you know, kind of swimlanes of different companies. And I look at, Drew, I’ve pinged you a bunch of times, like, “Oh, hey, like, I have this search, and who do you know, that might, blah, blah, blah?” And then I also look at different things, you know, what are the top 25 demand gen leaders of 2018, or whatever, I’m just looking at that the other day, having some kind of presence is never a bad thing. But that presence, it doesn’t need to be speaking on a huge stage. But there’s a lot of people who are using LinkedIn to great benefit, just posting their musings on a day to day basis. And that that can be totally fine.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s funny, as we were talking about this, it was much easier for the CMOs who are committed to an industry like if they’re in health care, because, one because they know that’s where their network is going to be. And two because it’s generally good for the company too. Because if your personal brand is connected to an engine, it makes their lives a lot easier. It’s harder for the ones that sort of cross again, if you’re in cybersecurity and you can speak at a cybersecurity conference, it’s good for your brand, it’s good for the company, it’s good for you, all those things. But a lot of CMOs don’t want to be pigeonholed by industry, which is probably, to get back to you. It’s easier for you when they are right, because it’s easier to replace them. But I don’t know, I liked working on a lot of different industries that when Renegade was really servicing. I love that factor  because I just get bored with the same industry all the time. So is there a role at all for CMOs who are in one industry to be able to get to another and is that even a possibility today?

Erica Seidel: I think it depends on what you mean by one industry. Like I do a lot of B2B SaaS, you know, and again, it gets pretty niche. It’s like, oh, B2B SaaS MarTech And you go from B2B SaaS MarTech to B2B SaaS cybersecurity. I think you can I mean,  both situations like total knife fights, very competitive industries. And I think that there’s a lot of like similar dynamic, you might have to pitch and kind of educate on why your skills are relevant. What I see a lot more—like I’m doing a search right now. It’s an investor and a CEO who mostly working with them, they’re like, Okay, look, our average deal size is 30k. And we close most of our deals within a quarter. So we want that experience. And they said, like, our part is not that complicated. Like, you can learn it in a little bit of time. So if you’ve done any kind of like workflow software that’s relevant. Where I do, thinking more broadly about where people switch industries, product marketing, and this is not like a CMO specific thing, but I actually have seen CMOs become product marketers in other organizations or anybody become product marketers, because product market is such a funky role to hire for, and if you know the industry—like so, say you were a B2C marketer in retail. And then you join a MarTech company that sells to retail, you have a play there. If the CEO is open to somebody from outside the industry that speaks well of the company and their appetite for innovation. So it’s not going to be universally accepted. And I would say still, it’s easier to stick within one industry. Because again, you could be that Chief Marketing Officer, you can understand it, you can come up to speed faster.

Drew Neisser: You mentioned the Chief Market Officer, I’ve seen that when I interviewed Sarah Franklin of Salesforce, she talks about marketers make markets. And is there demand for that? Should every CMO suddenly call themselves Chief Market Officer? It feels like such a nuanced thing.

Erica Seidel: I think in bigger companies, it’s more obvious and more common. I think if you’re talking about a tiny startup, well, I say that and then like a tiny startup company, like what are they? Especially if it’s a new category, what are they doing but making a market? Right? It’s the middle like, I talked about like the $20 million businesses that are have some scale, they have some product market fit. They’re like pouring fuel on the fire. They don’t necessarily think of it as “oh, we need to make a new market.” It may be but usually it’s just more like, “Oh, we need to grow.” So I think it I think it depends on where you are. But also you don’t want to talk about yourself as too ethereal, you have to kind of just see what the company is looking for? And how can you kind of use their words to talk about your experience that will take you far versus like imposing, a kind of characterization of yourself that that might be a little left of how the industry views it.

Drew Neisser: One of the things that you mentioned is occasionally a CEO will say, “Hey, we’re open to people outside the industry.” Well, I’ve heard this story over and over in transition team Huddles where someone is up for a job. They said that they were open to it, and then they didn’t get the job because there was somebody who had experience in the industry. I mean, is this just a Don Quixote thing at the moment? If you’re in between opportunities, should you even be thinking about things that you don’t have industry experience on. I mean, again, you got to focus even when you’re not out of work.

Erica Seidel: I like to tell people that there’s a recency bias. So whatever you did yesterday, you are going to get more of a look, than something totally different. Unless you have a strong introduction in from a former colleague that’s worked with you knows, you likes, you know your work, likes your work, etc. Or if there’s a recruiter that’s uniquely hired to bring in somebody from another industry, which could be.

Drew Neisser: Well, and that’s interesting. And that gets to the next question, which is,  one of the things that we talk a lot about in Huddles is the importance of building your network. Once again, it’s why you want to get out there, it’s why you want to be part of an association, like CMO Huddles. And I’m just curious if you have any sense of the CMOs that talk to you, and then end up getting jobs, versus the ones that you end up placing. I’m imagining that a lot more find jobs because they reached out to a CEO they used to know, than necessarily recruiter placed. Does that jive with your data?

Erica Seidel: Yeah. For every third time I talked to 50 to 200 people. Now “talk to”, sometimes it’s email back and forth. Right. But  sometimes when it’s hard, like I have a contact list for every search, so it’s like the hard ones are 400 names. And those include sources so like Drew, you’re on there as the source for me sometimes. So again, it’s very, very nichey. I had a mentor when I was at Forrester, I had this great client and she was CMO of some big insurance company, Latina woman. And I say that because people would often be like, there’s a huge interest in diversity search. But she said to me once she’s like, oh, I only got a few calls, like maybe three times in my whole career, she’s retired, she retired at 50. I only got a few calls, like, in my career from recruiters, it was usually people I knew. And I was like, you’re kidding, you know? And so recruiters place in the minority, because I don’t have the numbers. But certainly tapping your network, and people know you, like your work, like working. You know, that is I imagine that as bigger by a decent factor. And it depends also on the industry, again, I do a lot of private equity backed searches, private equity companies, they’re investing, they’re looking for quick kind of time to value. So they will pay a recruiter, because they’re like the value prop is do it faster, do a better,  broader search. And so they have no problem doing that, because it’s part of their value platform. So you know, it just it depends.

Drew Neisser: Okay. All right. So we’re getting close to the end. But I want to make sure that we cover this, which is, there are some, and it’s not by far, it’s not a majority, but the CMOs who do aspire to be COOs or CEOs or sometimes CROs. And I wonder for those, and maybe we’ve already covered that, but what are the building blocks for that?

Erica Seidel: I feel like we might have covered it a little bit. I certainly know a bunch of CMOs, who have risen to CROs. And again, there’s some lock, you know, maybe the CRO leaves gets fired, or whatever. And then the person’s like, oh, I can take over this. Especially if you’re already managing like in like in a B2B SaaS context, if you’re already managing like a BDR SDM kind of team. And so I’m a big fan of the slash careers, I would say, you know, like marketing slash product, marketing slash sales, and especially now, given the economy, every company is looking to do more with less. And so being able to say, I can cover marketing, but I could also cover this other piece of the business, would that be helpful? But again, to your point, it’s like was that focus? Or is it like stretching the job.

Drew Neisser: I mean, that’s what we have been talking about in transition teams, we’re talking about the idea of CMO+, because in many ways, if you look at what happened, a lot of these startups got rid of the CMO level just said, “Hey, VP of marketing, or whatever you are, you’re now the head of marketing.” And so there are a lot of CMOs out there that are looking for the next opportunity. And I think if they are talking to this startup world, their only hope is to be CMO+, or slash as you described it. Right, I can do two, for you. And obviously, you’re not really doing two jobs, because you can’t, but you can manage people who are doing those two things. So again, you really got to get good people or you’re gonna be screwed.

So alright, two do’s and one don’t for CMOs when it comes to career management.

Erica Seidel: Yeah, a do would be like radically collaborate. So this idea of radically collaborate even when it hurts. So this idea of like, giving a budget to another area that that that that hurts, right, but it could be the right thing for the company. I think the other thing is finding the right balance between that inward and outward.The outward, maybe customers, I’m doing a search, and one of my candidates has said, oh, and whenever I join a company, I spend the first month meeting 30 customers wonderful, you know, an outward view, and they like that. And balancing that inward with the outward andbeing intentional about it, and maybe sharing internally how they’re spending their time. A don’t I would say like, in the interview process, you know, it’s like Italian cooking, right? What you leave out is just as important as what you put in. And don’t puke up your whole history. Practice your story so it doesn’t sound rehearsed but it sounds natural. And it’s not even a story. It’s a conversation where you can just only drop the things that matter the most to the specific opportunity.

Drew Neisser: I love, radically collaborate, balancing the inward and the outward makes so much sense. I remember the last chapter in my first book was Beth Comstock, when she was still at GE, and she talked about spending 25% of her time out, either talking to customers or talking to startups, so she knew the cool stuff that was happening out there. And she was in the business of making markets, I mean, eco imagination and health imagination came out of marketing, and they became billion dollar division. So I think that outward focus makes a lot of sense. And I say this a lot in the Huddles nothing bad ever happened to a CMO when they started a sentence with “I was talking to a customer the other day and”, it is a point of authority. In the old days, that was really the strength of the of a CMO, whether it’s B2B or B2C, they knew the customer better. Okay. And then the don’t is, yeah, don’t over tell. That’s amazing. All right with that, well, Erica, it’s been wonderful talking with you. Thank you so much for joining us.

Erica Seidel: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure.

Drew Neisser: If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring and daring CMOs at CMO Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins in the intro VoiceOver is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes suggest future guests or learn more about B2B branding CMO Huddles or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong

If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring and daring CMOs at CMO

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!