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Generally speaking, someone with a title like Chief Marketing Officer has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in all aspects of marketing. Because of this, a CMO is the perfect person to know what is more and less likely to work. So what are the top 5 tried and true marketing strategies that executives recommend to other business leaders? As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Manning.

Tim Manning

Tim Manning

An international marketing executive with more than 25 years of diverse and measurable success, Tim differentiates companies and new technologies for optimum growth and maximum ROMI. With a broad knowledge of marketing strategy and tactics spanning retailtech, fintech, medtech, cybertech and other sectors, he builds programs and processes dedicated to driving measurable bottom-line results, on-time and on-budget. A specialist in positioning strategy and messaging, Tim engineers strategy with a customer focus to connect brands in a meaningful way and deliver a unified and compelling value proposition.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! To start, can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a financial analyst by education, which drove my first few full-time assignments. My first assignment in marketing was international, and a breakthrough moment for me when I understood how important marketing was as a catalyst for changing markets & industry, driving growth, creating customer experience & loyalty, and shaping the trajectories of companies.

While an understanding of finance is crucial for measuring marketing impact, magic occurs when companies take a responsible approach to view their industry and opportunity from the outside in (starting with the customer); rather than an inside-out perspective. That’s marketing!

That breakthrough moment occurred for me in 1990 and changed the direction of my career in marketing. I have been passionate about Marketing ever since. 

Here are a few quotes I like to use on the subject:

  • “The company does not own a brand, but by the customers who draw meaning from it… power has shifted from companies to customers.” The Brand Flip. Marty Neumeier
  • “The purpose of business is to create a customer… and the enterprise has two basic functions; marketing and innovation.” Peter Drucker

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

Two professionals played a formative role in my marketing journey and career.

The first was the hiring manager for International Marketing – American Airlines/SABRE. The assignment allowed me the autonomy to set the direction for 3 international markets; speak with customers; develop a customer perspective; develop a plan; be responsible for helping to shape the customer experience, accountable for the results; and have the authority to make decisions. This allowed me to see the entire marketing life cycle and connect strategy and tactics meaningfully. Furthermore, this shaped my early vision for effective leadership (at any level), including autonomy, responsibility, accountability, and authority. 

The second was a CEO for one of my full-time early-stage growth assignments. Like above, I was charged with launching a new company, building the brand from scratch, and building a high-performing team—across two continents. Once more, I had autonomy, responsibility, accountability, and authority to develop strategy and tactics, set direction, build teams, and witness the marketing process working effectively over a period of five years.

The common threads across both assignments set the stage for my passion for effective leadership; and the fundamental, game-changing opportunity available through marketing.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Chief Outsiders comprises a group of world-class CMOs and CSOs—carefully vetted—who help each other, learn from each other, and are equally committed to delivering value for clients nationally and internationally. We are not consultants in the traditional sense but operational executives who take a seat at the table; develop strategy, help execute plans, and drive growth.

As such, Chief Outsiders has created a unique culture that is supportive and collaborative; and a unique value proposition that is focused on enduring client success! 

One approach truly unique to Chief Outsiders that I have benefitted from personally is the ‘Peer Review Process’; where one CMO will invite many other CMOs to review strategy, plans, and tactics with the intent of soliciting feedback from a broader group of world-class CMOs. The power and benefit for clients is they will often have not one CMO thinking about their business but many. Truly a demonstration of the ‘whole being greater than the sum of the parts.”

Are you working on any exciting projects now? Tell us about it!

Every project I work on is exciting and interesting because we are solving a puzzle that is truly unique to each client; based on their solution, customer, competition, and marketing opportunity.

This work is foundational and, in many cases, transformational for companies of every size; and the people involved. 

Foundational, because we teach that marketing is not a series of random acts but rather a carefully orchestrated set of integrated programs that ‘ladder up’ to a single overall business & marketing strategy that takes advantage of a company’s unique opportunity. In so many cases, the power of marketing is fundamentally misunderstood, and we change that perception—which is game-changing for companies.

Transformational, because of how it helps people perform at a different level, delivering uncommon results. When you empower people within a proven system to deliver growth, you have a more loyal and capable group of professionals pulling in the same direction toward a common goal. 

With so many different types of marketing, has any one area had a bigger impact on business over the rest? Have any changed?

Much has changed, with, for example, influencer, social, and content at the marketing program or tactic level, but it allows me to shift the conversation to a higher strategic level. Integrated marketing, which is the combination of multiple tactics uniquely suited to a specific company and its customer segment, is what makes the difference—not one program or tactic in isolation.

The integrated marketing mix is driven by the strategy and can change based on the company and solution. Are they B2B or B2C, how is the solution delivered (SaaS); how do the customers buy; where do they learn about the solutions; what are the competitors doing; how do they sell, either direct, through channels or both and so on—all strategy level discussions.

It is important to note that the marketing mix will also be driven partly by a responsible view of the available budget and the return on marketing investments (ROMI) expected from the different tactics. 

The variety of tactics, including SEO, digital, email, public & analyst relations, telemarketing, event marketing, content marketing (video, blog, podcast), social marketing, and so on, will change based on the company.

We advise clients not to think in terms of a single program or tactic but rather in terms of a marketing mix uniquely suited to a specific company and opportunity. This bears out when you consider that a generally accepted rule in marketing is ‘prospects will need 6-8 touches to take an action which leads to a sale’. Each marketing tactic (social, content, email) can represent one touch; you will need an integrated marketing mix to deliver 6-8 touches.

At every touch and across multiple touchpoints, we are reinforcing a high-quality customer experience and brand impression, which builds trust in the solution, brand, and company. 

How often do you try a new marketing strategy, and which ‘boxes’ does it need to tick before you’re willing to implement it?

Again, I want to differentiate between strategy and programs or tactics. Strategy drives plans, and plans drive the tactics which make up the marketing mix. Once the strategy is set which determines market positioning, customer segment, distribution channels, and so on—tactics are decided. Many tactics are proven and essential to the marketing mix, such as SEO, email marketing, content marketing, some minimum level of social marketing, etc.

Specifically, once we understand the ideal customer profile, buying the title, how they buy, and where they consume information; we can decide what tactics are appropriate to the opportunity. 

Paid media and influencer marketing may be more appropriate to a B2C opportunity, whereas email, LinkedIn, and events may be more appropriate to a B2B opportunity.

In terms of when we would consider a new marketing tactic, if it checks the box on ‘relevant to the intended customer and the opportunity (B2B, B2C)’, there are a few requirements before I consider adding to the marketing mix as follows:

  • Is it measurable? In other words, can we expect results?
  • Are the metrics or KPIs (key performance metrics) essential to the business, such as new lead growth?
  • And can we execute for a trial period (e.g., 3 months) that provides an opportunity to measure results, with an exit clause based on performance evaluation?
  • And to the extent practical, performance guarantees within the trial period (e.g., 10-20% conversion ratio for meetings)

In your opinion, is it better to try out new marketing tactics or to stick with what you know works? How do you decide where to allocate your budget and resources?

The answer is yes and yes; subject to similar considerations discussed above. Remember strategy determines market positioning, customer segment, distribution channels, and so on; which determines the marketing plan, programs, and tactics. Inside of strategy, specific to customer segment, the strategy also reveals how those customers buy and where they consume information; all directional in setting marketing tactics. 

We start with what is proven, foundational, and relevant to any company or opportunity, including:

  • SEO 
  • Outbound email marketing; for existing customer nurture and new customer growth
  • Inbound Marketing; automating the nurture and qualification of new inbound customer inquiries through the web using marketing automation
  • Content marketing; to deliver content that is valuable to customers and prospects; builds the brand as a thought leader, and differentiates the offering

Once the proven programs are implemented in concert to produce an integrated marketing benefit (greater than the sum of the parts); then we can test and measure programs/tactics for their incremental value, such as social, paid media, events, public relations, and so on. These new programs must be measured for their value to the business. 

As a budgeting discussion, spending will follow the logic of foundational programs first and incremental programs second. Allocations are subject to the available budget and budget tradeoffs are made based on which programs produce the highest value (leads, revenue) for the business. Customer acquisition costs and lifetime customer value are also relevant to the budget trade-off discussion. 

Having reached this space, what are your top five most successful marketing strategies? What kind of results did you see?

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for unique keyword and organic search opportunities
  1. Outbound email marketing; for existing customer nurture and new customer growth
  1. Inbound Marketing to automate the nurture and qualification of new inbound customer inquiries through web and marketing automation; and to scale Top-of-Funnel and Middle-of-Funnel lead generation.
  1. Content marketing; to deliver content that is valuable to customers and prospects; differentiate the offering; build trust with customers and prospects, and build the brand as a thought leader
  1. Partner marketing and channels – as appropriate - outside of direct-to-consumer (B2B or B2C), which represent ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities to expand the indirect salesforce, amplify the brand and drive sales.

When these programs/tactics are properly executed with an integrated marketing strategy and marketing mix, the results are always positive, provided the positioning and messaging are relevant to solving a known customer problem that the target customer segment cares about. 

Rather than provide specific examples of each, allow me to share an example where all of the above were executed for an early-stage growth company I was involved with as the marketing leader. We launched a new technology category as a first-to-market positioning; executed fastidiously over a period of five years on all of the above, plus event marketing, public relations, and some paid media. We emerged as the recognized market leader in five years across three continents—North America, South America, and Europe—and were acquired by SAP AG for a 10X multiple on revenue. Success!

Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?

If marketing practitioners start with strategy and then execute fastidiously with a fiscally responsible marketing approach spend and brutal honesty around a ‘test and measure philosophy,’ marketing will deliver results. If these same marketing practitioners are severely budget-constrained—underinvested in marketing—the results will be compromised, unfavorable, or worse.

In my early-stage career, marketing was unsuccessful when companies under-invested in marketing. We started our article today with a quote from Peter Drucker:

  • “The purpose of business is to create a customer… and the enterprise has two basic functions; marketing and innovation.” Peter Drucker

The learning or lesson: spend wisely and appropriately for the customer and opportunity. 

What expert tips can you share with those who just starting to build out their marketing strategy?

  • Start with the customer, and build your strategy. Strategy drives plans, programs, and tactics. 
  • Look for fiscally smart opportunities to out-execute and out-perform your competition.
  • Look to integrated marketing, not random acts of marketing
  • Deliver a consistent positioning and message across all of your marketing programs; speaking with one voice, one message to amplify your brand
  • Execute, execute, execute! The difference between great marketing and everything else is execution! 
  • Resources:

Lastly, if you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the most people, what would it be?

Invest in people. Uplift them. Acknowledge and empower them. Give them structure inside of which they can be successful and measure their success. Challenge them to think differently, think bigger, and think strategy first and then tactics.

Change the perception of marketing—it is foundational and transformational, and magical.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out my profile on Chief Outsiders or follow me on LinkedIn.

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.