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A successful CMO has many roles, including leading an organization's marketing department, establishing marketing strategies, and tracking successes and failures. How can a CMO create a highly successful career? What tools, strategies, and approaches can a CMO use to be successful? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing David Marine.

David Marine

David Marine

David Marine grew up at Coldwell Banker and while Chief Marketing Officer might be his title, being a brand champion is something David has been for the past 20+ years at the most recognized brand in real estate. His career began with creating the first PowerPoint listing presentation in brand history, to the brand’s industry-first exploration into virtual worlds and has culminated in one of the most successful and applauded real estate rebrands in recent history. David’s superpower is storytelling, which has enabled him to develop the highest-rated real estate ad of all time, reshape the brand’s luxury and commercial divisions and have the most effective marketing in the industry for ten straight years.

 

Thank you so much for doing this with us! To start, can you share a bit of your personal 'backstory' and how you got started?

Although I’ve grown up with Coldwell Banker, I didn’t begin my career in the real estate industry. After graduating college, I worked in marketing for Lenskold Group for nearly two years before being laid off. My wife and I had just gotten married and purchased our first home so this was, what I thought at the time, the worst moment of my life. However, I came to realize that it truly was a gift. 

After being laid off, I applied to multiple positions before interviewing for an exciting role as a Electronic Product Manager at Coldwell Banker. Fast forward twenty years and what had felt like the lowest point in my life became the greatest opportunity to grow within the best real estate brand in the industry. From Electronic Product Manager to CMO… I look back at that point in my life and can now say it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

What do you think was a pivotal moment that led you on your path to becoming a CMO?

I was fascinated with commercials as a kid and dreamt of making my own one day. However, I started my career in marketing working on the digital side of the industry. My experience had been mostly focused on email and search engine marketing, so I was never exposed to advertising work. It wasn’t until I joined Coldwell Banker that I began to research advertising strategies, read ad publications and have more in-depth discussions with my colleagues in the media department.

Key leaders within Coldwell Banker took notice of the genuine curiosity I had for this space and tasked me to lead their advertising team. Fifteen years later, I look back on this pivotal moment as it kickstarted my path to CMO as well as my drive towards a deeper understanding and focus on how to use emotional creative to showcase the value of homeownership.

Can you share an interesting story that has happened since you began leading your company?

In 2019, Coldwell Banker embarked on a rebrand “trifecta” designed to set Coldwell Banker up for a growth trajectory. After months of looking through pages of new logos, different colors schemes and fresh designs, it was time to roll out the new look, the CB North Star, to our network of employees, agents, and broker owner affiliates at Coldwell Banker’s annual Gen Blue event.

Everyone was networking, posting fun pictures online and, overall, having a great time. You can imagine my surprise when I opened my phone to a significant number of negative comments from people on social media who weren’t there in person, but just caught snippets of our launch online: “This guy should be fired,” “Why are you changing Coldwell Banker’s logo,” “This team should be let go” … the list goes on.

I had considered what everyone at our Gen Blue event would think when we revealed Coldwell Banker’s new look in-person, but I had failed to consider what those finding out at home through social media would experience. Any rebrand is emotional, as you are asking your network to forget the old imagery of a trusted brand and embrace an entirely new look and feel. I knew this, but I hadn’t fully connected the dots for folks at home. 

This was an oversight on my part, but it presented me with the opportunity to directly address people’s concerns and thoughts. Following Gen Blue, I visited the most vocal Coldwell Banker offices across the country to showcase in-person the purpose for the rebrand, offer context and share how the goal was to bring everyone together. Once I did that, it instantly clicked for our network that the Coldwell Banker “North Star” is the perfect symbol of the amazing people that guide consumers to their dream home every day.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you're grateful for?

Whether he knows it or not, Mike Fischer, the former Chief Marketing Officer, was a great mentor to me early in my career. Your family and friends may be unwilling to give you feedback that invites you to take action, but a professional mentor never hesitates to offer honest dialogue and constructive criticism. Mike advocated for my goals and passions, and his open feedback was a key influence in my growth and development within Coldwell Banker.

My father has also been a huge influence in my life. Growing up, I saw him achieve many promotions within his career in technology. Even though those new roles brought on additional responsibilities and required more of his time, he never failed to make time for his family. I now follow in my father’s footsteps—no matter how high I grow in my career, I prioritize my family and make an effort to attend as many of my four sons’ events as possible.

Can you please share your favorite 'Life Lesson Quote' and how it has been relevant to you in your life?

“Always do something that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable.” 

When I first stepped into my role as CMO, I was told you should always do something that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, but you should never feel extremely uncomfortable. Slightly uncomfortable is when you know that you are pushing yourself and you are heading into a new territory that can help your business succeed. Change can be nerve-wracking, and often, people do not like change, but there are so many opportunities that come from trying new techniques, innovating and straying from the usual strategies. Extremely uncomfortable is your internal warning system and should never be ignored. 

Can you share with us three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves? 

  1. Being curious. Being curious never hurts. It is questioning why one strategy works versus one that does not bring in results, learning new mediums and how other brands market to their audience, and just being genuinely curious about the things occurring outside of your space. 
  1. Storytelling. From persuading people to explaining difficult concepts, being able to craft a story with the right cadence and flow is a skill that will always be beneficial and has been one of the strongest skillsets within my journey to becoming CMO.
  1. Presentation Building. Understanding the basics of creating a great presentation can be overlooked, but effectively using visuals, content and video has helped me open people’s minds to new concepts while also opening doors in my career as few people are willing to go the extra mile when building presentation decks to really make them stand apart.  

Which skills are you still trying to grow now?

Patience. As a leader and a member of a large organization, patience is a vital skill that you will be challenged to develop and flex over the years. 

During the rebrand and subsequent rollout during the pandemic, my patience was certainly tested. Timeline shifts, stakeholder buy-in, changed minds, logistical hurdles—name an obstacle, and any rebrand will hit it. This of course is all part of the job, but the process highlighted for me just how much I would hone my patience, especially as someone who prefers to solve problems fast.

Having reached this space, what do you believe are the five things you need to be a highly successful CMO?

  1. Abstract creativity. Any CMO should be able to look at trends across industries and brands to draw inspiration for their brand strategy and goals. From looking at comic books, how films are promoted to consumers and even late night or sports television, I draw inspiration from many sources when crafting new marketing for the Coldwell Banker brand. 
  1. Financial savviness. You don’t have to be a financial wizard, but you should be able to efficiently manage budgets, understand what drives revenue and measure the impact of each dollar spent. It is especially powerful when you can showcase how marketing is influencing the revenue drivers of the brand and how they are positively impacting the company as a whole. 
  1. Be a teacher. Coaching and teaching skills have always been important as a leader, but their significance has grown as we’ve adjusted to today’s remote workforce. Knowing what is going on within your brand, what your colleagues need to succeed and how to uplift your team members strengthens your leadership and builds a culture of excellence within your team.
  1. People reading. I’m blessed to work with a brilliant team of marketers and real estate professionals. Being able to meet new people and, within two interactions, determine if they have the right skillset to support your team and be a good culture fit is essential.

    I read an article a few years ago in which Pat Riley noted that the future of the NBA was no longer going to be about positions, instead a team of players who can all handle the ball, shoot and defend. I think my team consists of those multi-dimensional players—they can shine in their role and shine in other roles when needed.
  1. Introspection. Being able to look back at my career – those learning moments – and grow and improve because of them has been vital. It has allowed me to chart a thoughtful path forward for my team and the brand. I grew up with Coldwell Banker and held almost every role within the marketing department, so introspection has been key. 

Are there any underrated skills or qualities that you encourage others not to overlook?

Outside of the creative and communications industries, the value of strong writing and presentation skills are often overlooked. When speaking with college students, I encourage them to take as many communications courses that are available to them. As a marketing major myself, I took marketing courses that no longer really influence my job. However, the things I learned in my writing and speech classes, I use every single day. In my personal life with my family, in my day-to-day work life with my teams and as a CMO, focusing on becoming a better communicator is invaluable.

What are some of the main issues that other CMOs commonly struggle with? What can be done to address those challenges?  

Storytelling for your brand is one of the most important aspects of being a CMO. For example, when requesting approval to move forward with new campaigns and projects, you must be able to effectively showcase how the results of a proposed idea are connected to the central goal of the brand. Mastering storytelling not only builds trust with your boss over time but it strengthens your position as a CMO by moving the needle for the whole brand.

What do you believe is the most effective way to stand out and make an impact as a CMO?

Don’t stand out. As a CMO, I don’t want to stand out, I want the brand to stand out. When Coldwell Banker is recognized for its capabilities, network and power, that is when I know I’m doing my job. If you want to make an impact, continue to help the brand grow. Reach new milestones and that will showcase the value you bring to the brand.

It’s also important to note the impact of partnership. I work with a great team, including one of the top women in public relations, nationally recognized marketers, and a team of brilliant young marketers-in-the-making; showcasing their incredible work and efforts is how I continue to shine. 

If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the greatest number of people, what would that be?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—the Golden Rule. If I can treat the people around me with kindness and how I want to be treated, I will have succeeded. I think that could bring the greatest good to the world if more people had that mindset.

Lastly, is there a person with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might just see this!

I’m a huge fan of sports, particularly the New York Giants, so it may be no surprise to those close to me that Eli Manning is at the top of my list. Throughout his career, he experienced many ups and downs and was met with very high expectations. He’s now retired, but really seems to be living his best life. If he happens to see this, I’m down to grab a bite!

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.