Peter: The Next CMO Podcast explores topics that are on the minds of forward thinking marketing executives from leadership and strategy to emerging technologies. And we bring these topics to life by interviewing leading experts in their fields. The Next CMO is sponsored by Planful for Marketing. A leading marketing performance management solution that automates marketing planning, financial management, and ROI optimization.
And hosted by me, Peter Mahoney, an experienced CMO, CEO, board member, and executive advisor.
In this episode of the Next CMO Podcast, I speak to Glenn Bottomley. Glenn is the Chief Marketing Officer for Taylor Corporation. Taylor Corporation is a 10, 000 plus employee company and the largest provider of print services across lots of different applications you’ll hear more about in my discussion with Glenn coming up in a minute here.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy this conversation I did. It was one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy the show.
Hey Glenn, thank you so much for being on the next CMO podcast. I’m thrilled to have you here. And normally I go directly into having you introduce yourself, but I do have to just note that we have a special connection because I invited Glenn to be on my podcast after I had such a great time on his podcast called The Art of Marketing Operations, which I highly recommend and we’ll link in the show notes and things like that.
But besides that one little detail, I’ll leave it to you to give the audience a little bit about your background and tell them a little bit about Taylor Corporation too to set the table
Glenn: Yeah, thanks so much, Peter. It’s really a pleasure to to be on the Next CMO. A little bit about myself so my background is in has always been in marketing or in technology. And and so at Taylor Corporation, Taylor is One of the largest graphic arts commercial printing organizations in North America.
And and our heritage really is, over the last 48 years, has been through Organic growth and acquisition. We started as a wedding invitation provider, and we have just grown from there. Everything from commercial print, to retail signage, to gift and loyalty, to promotional products, to you name it. It’s a very large product set.
And and yeah it’s Taylor Corporation and being in physical marketing impressions or what some people call it offline marketing it’s a really exciting time to be in the space.
Peter: Well, great. And obviously the, you know, offline is is sort of a complex, blurry world these days. I think Glenn and including some of the work that you all do. And but I wanted to also set a little context here in addition, because a large player in the in the print and graphic arts and digital print business, et cetera.
But the scale of the company is pretty amazing. And you can’t talk about everything because it’s a privately held company. In fact, one of the larger privately held companies, but the stat that zoomed out at me on your website is over 10, 000 employees. In what we chatted about recently was when we talked a few weeks ago is that in the almost 50 years, I think 48 years now, officially of operations founded in 1975 over 200 acquisitions so lots of growth and in a really interesting, diverse, complex, global corporation and and I think that’s going to be interesting as we dig into a little bit about the sort of the way you think and the way you market to, to have that context
Glenn: Yeah, you’re exactly right. 200, we actually just crossed over 200. We actually just announced this today, in fact, actually our 201st,
Peter: Oh, congrats.
made another acquisition of a creative agency down in Florida. And but you’re exactly right. I think it’s the challenge is maintaining a a deep relevance to our buyers and community across a very diverse set of products and solutions is really the key because a lot of, You know, our marketing tagline, which took, you know, almost a year to create probably almost seven years ago now is Power Your Brands Potential.
And there are so many different ways that a organization, a business can promote and market themselves to their customers and to their buyers. And so whether that is corporate identity products, business cards you know, digital activities, et cetera. There are so many different ways and we want to play a role in every one of those sort of touch points.
And and so when we see an opportunity in the market, we will seize on that either move to organically create that or move forward with. You know, an acquisition approach, but it is, it’s an exciting time 10, 000 employees right now, and that’s across eight different countries and it is, it’s a challenge at times to manage all of that, but one of the things that I think makes us unique is We manage all marketing activities and in fact many of our centralized activities through Centers of Excellence.
So we have a centralized team which I manage, which is our Marketing Center of Excellence. And then we also have you know, individual marketers in each of the individual business units. Some have more, some have less. So it’s always really finding that right balance about how we can centralize and what’s the most important things to centralize versus what should actually be localized and, you know, closer to the market and managed out at the business unit level.
So that’s always you know, detailed conversations that we have you know, internally to kind of plan that
Peter: Yeah, and it’s interesting because when we were talking before, you mentioned the Centers of Excellence and and when I was in my last CMO gig the we sort of ebbed and flowed between that model a little bit because we also had, we had four divisions. Of sort of product divisions that actually included about 35 business lines that were organized into four product divisions.
And we always went back and forth between sort of a mostly or largely centralized marketing function and and then a distributed function where there was always the hot potato was often sort of the product marketer. Right, where the product market are sat. And I’m not sure, is that sort of the, that sort of product expertise or segment or market expertise?
Is that the thing that you sort of argue about which side of the line? Not argue, but you, you vacillate back and forth based on where the
Glenn: That’s exactly right. I think one of the things that I think we’ve always seen is there’s always the natural and healthy debate around how much of those centralized functions, and I’m just not talking about marketing here, but finance, HR, supply chain, you name it, you know, legal, all of it. How much of those functions should be centralized?
If you go with a fully centralized approach, then on one hand, you can make decisions very quickly, but On the other hand, you’re not really necessarily capitalizing because it’s difficult for an entire centralized team to know every single nuance of a market, of a product, of a service, of a competitive you know, set.
And so… We know that the answer is not fully centralized, and if you go down the path of I’m going to go completely decentralized, well, now you’re in an environment where, you know, are you, this organization or this business unit contracts with this MarTech vendor without this other business unit knowing, and they contract with one, and then you have no efficiency gains, no cost savings, no, Vendor lift you know, across the board.
So, so we know the answer isn’t fully decentralized either. So to your point, I think the answer always lies somewhere in between and it ebbs and flows based on the shifts in the business. If it makes more sense now, maybe there’s some things, some trends afoot or some other you know, maybe it’s smart tech or go to market initiatives that allow you to.
centralize more and gain more lift and efficiency by doing that. But other times it makes more sense to go the other way. So, so you’re right. And I think one of the key areas for that is at that product level. Because oftentimes the group that at the business unit, They know their customer the best.
They’re the ones that are driving the top line revenue, and to do that, they have to know that product and market set better than, you know, anyone, and certainly, you know, what are the advantages of that product over a competitive set. So, and so that tends to be the decentralized area, and the centralized are those other things, graphic design.
You know, market research and some other things that you can pull in at a more centralized level and gain those centralized efficiencies.
Peter: So, Glenn, do you have at Taylor Corporation? I know you have lots of different products and services. Do you have different buyers of those services across the business
Glenn: Absolutely. Yes. Every single product set has a different buyer or buyer persona that we actually manage. And what’s interesting in some of the cases in some product sets, you know, the buyer may be very unique that is the only thing that they purchase that they’re purchasing from us.
But oftentimes there may be. other people in the organization potentially on their team or in a completely different team who may be more better equipped to actually purchase another product set you know, that Taylor offers. So, the answer is absolutely yes. I would say different multiple buyer personas per product set for sure across the company.
Peter: So give me a sense of the different kinds of buyers that you’re you’re engaging with across Taylor.
Glenn: You know, I would say at the very highest level, you could look at it as, on one hand, we’re selling to marketers, on the other hand, we’re selling to supply chain, at the very highest level. Okay, so highest level of abstraction, you could look at it from just those two perspectives. In some cases in terms of what we are selling it absolutely makes sense to us to actually go to a CMO a director of marketing operations, a vice president of marketing, what have you, because that may be the group that’s managing that brands or that their companies.
Tradeshow presence. So they need to, you know, purchase a tradeshow booth and all of the marketing materials that relate to that. It could be a marketer that’s managing all of the internal branding and external branding for their company. So they’re going to be managing business cards and commercial print and so forth.
So it could be an absolute you know, focus on the marketer. And in other cases, other things that we may be purchase or that we may be providing in services to a customer. need to actually be purchased either by contract or by customer preference through a supply chain organization. It may be something that may be more commodity.
It may be a requirement. It also might actually come through an RFP. And and so therefore we are responding to that RFP. Typically that’s not coming through a marketing organization. It’s coming through more supply chain. And then we would respond, you know, to that and then within each of those two sort of major groupings, now you’ve got, you know, all of the slice and dice of every sort of persona that you could imagine you know, based on the product set that we’re talking about.
Peter: So it sounds like you have a, from a product offering perspective your core competency is around sort of the sounds like a vertically integrated process of. of creating you know, physical printed material of certain kinds. And, but as you articulated, the diversity of the buyer is really interesting.
So it, from the supply chain buyer, all the way through the CMO, and then points on the inside. So how do you think about that from a tailor? corporate brand perspective. How do you connect the dots between what you do as Taylor Corporation in what the value proposition is for those individual product offers, or even the services that are related to that?
How do you connect all those dots together,
Glenn: Yeah, I think probably some of the most important ways for us to do this is to focus. And make sure that the our customers and and future customers have an understanding of the breadth and depth of Taylor’s offerings. So, you know, whether that is production footprint and having production operations in, you know, almost 30 states across the United States and in eight countries so that is.
I’m going to go over this one way. The other way is, because as you stated, being privately held and family owned, we have a lot of to share sort of the advantages of working with a company like us speed to market because of that production footprint and our ability to ship product and get product to a customer location in a day or two days, depending on what they’re, where they are located.
And our ability to supply. You know, and so many of the different types of services that they’re looking for, are they looking for cold chain services? Are they a pharmaceutical organization looking for cold chain? Are they a nutritional supplement company looking for warehousing and fulfillment?
You know, we have. You know, millions of square feet of warehousing and fulfillment across the the the country. And all of those high level points are important to make sure that vote, that’s the larger story of Taylor and the power of Taylor Corporation. And then diving into those very specific needs of that specific buyer.
So if they are looking for. Labeling solutions, and these are labels for industrial products, such as a lawnmower or, you know, whatever you’re manufacturing, if you’re a manufacturing organization, are these you know, labels that go on a part that then goes inside an engine, which goes inside a lawnmower.
Is it flexible packaging that your food product you know, maybe you’re creating cookies or you’re creating you know, some sort of a nutritional supplement or something a powder or what have you. We have all of those food grade nutritional flexible packaging products.
So, you know, a flexible packaging product, they’re going to be looking for, you know, various certifications. They’re going to be looking for are you know, How safe is this packaging going to be for me to put my food in there and and how quickly can you get that product and what’s the color set of that look like and how quickly can you get the product across to all of my manufacturing facilities.
So, regardless of what they’re looking for, it still comes down to, you know, delivering the highest quality product on time and on budget to the customer with whatever that representation of their brand in a physical sense. And delivering on that every time.
Peter: It’s amazing, just as you’ve went through a few more examples of Sort of the kind of customers and applications that you touch. It is really broad, I mean, from labeling a lawnmower part to to, you know, food labels, contents in needing food quality packaging and things like that to trade show booths.
So there’s a lot,
there’s a lot
Glenn: And to your point, we, you know, I haven’t even touched on things like, you know, our Taylor Healthcare. And so we have so many healthcare products, both, you know, think about, you talked about the labeling of, you know, patient wristbands and, you know, ensuring that, you know, this bag of medicine that’s going in a hospital room has the right labels on it at all times.
And instead of having all the various labels that go on a, on a. on a bag of saline or what have you that talk about all the unique aspects of this patient. We can put all that on a wristband as well as all of our digital products digital analytics products you know, patients what we call consent or informed consent products.
So there’s a whole digital set, a whole healthcare set. So yeah it’s extremely diverse to sort of, you know, work through all of that, but it also makes every day very exciting. Because every day you’re working on a different challenge, so that always makes it very exciting.
Peter: I’m having a little PTSD from my, my last CMO gig where it had just similar complexity, right? It was just it was all over the place. We had everything from. Package software for consumers doing speech recognition to healthcare applications to imaging software for that went on your printers in the hall your shared printer assets to the voice in cars and everything else.
So in, in an interesting thing happens where you have to think about a portfolio strategy. for your go to market because you can’t have just one go to market with all those different customers and all those different applications of your capabilities. So tell me a little bit about how you think about your overall marketing strategy if there can be such a thing and how do you connect that to the individual business units that you have to gain the operational leverage that make You need to have to be a single
Glenn: Yeah, the way that we look at that support from a centralized perspective is whatever we can do to empower the individual business units. We have five very large enterprise groups. Underneath that, probably twenty… Plus individual business units and then all of the teams underneath underneath all of that, all of those.
And one of the most important phrases that we use you know, sort of internally is what can we do to empower the business unit to be successful? And and that’s through the entire you know, process of all marketing. So from the very, very beginning, from a research perspective, all the way through identifying leads and marketing that that brand, all of the supportive top of funnel activities whether it be you know, social media or bespoke you know, research or.
Customized research that, you know, we start to, to build thought leadership for that for that brand in the market or for that team in the market all the way to helping to drive lead generation the, helping them drive the sale all the way through we’re predominantly a B2B enterprise we do have a fair amount of B2C brands but the vast majority of what we sell is to other businesses.
And and so how can we throughout that whole process empower that team to ensure growth and success in what they are doing on a day to day basis. And so part of that is bringing the full force of Taylor, the brand through taylor. com and all of the related marketing activities and marketing support.
That is. all built off off of that website but all of the other supporting activities. So much of what we do is provided to our business units through just really effective MarTech. We have a very complex, but interconnected MarTech stack. It is regularly growing. My personal technology background always makes me sort of gravitate.
That, you know, that next platform enhancement that can tightly weave into what we already have to augment or replace or make something more efficient in that platform. And so by having that construction that provides the individual business unit with a tremendous amount of power that. As they go to market, as they bring their product expertise to market, they know that they have the entire Taylor brand behind them.
But in addition, it’s also empowering them so that if they’re wanting to create a marketing piece or Hey, I’ve got this trade show and I want to do this. I want to host this event. I want to do this. So there’s a lot of also very tactical activities that we do that, that we provide support to the individual business units as well.
So I think it’s multi level or multi tiered in terms of. At the very highest level, it’s very much the Taylor brand and all the force that we bring there. It’s their individual product level brand or BU level brand. And then it’s a very tactical deployment, creative, social media you know, a trade show, what have you.
So I’d say it’s probably across those three.
Peter: No, that’s great. I’ll tell you the way I thought about it when when I was in my last CMO role is there were four key elements. That were leverage that you could get with meaningful value from a corporate function. One is brand that you talked about. Second is the technology stack that you talked about.
Third is data, which is really valuable because you can leverage that across, whether it’s customer data or you I’m sure have with 50 years of operation and probably. Tens or hundreds of thousands of customers. I mean, you must have an amazing data asset that’s part of that. And then the fourth one is really interesting.
It’s expertise. And and when you reach a certain scale, what happens is it becomes affordable for you. And in fact, more than affordable, it becomes heavily justified for you to invest more deeply in functional marketing expertise that you can bring to bear where you may insource things that otherwise would have been outsourced.
So as an example. strategy or research or brand or even, you know, the latest application of technology and the latest marketing techniques and demand generation and things like that. You can build, and it sort of speaks to the centers of excellence model where you start to staff up.
When it makes sense, but there’s a point where it starts to make some really interesting economic sense and for us, it made sense around when we got to, you know, a billion and a half, 2 billion. I think that number is a little bit weird because the revenue number is not usually the right measure, but it’s more of a complexity.
measure in a certain scale. So did you find at some point in your life cycle at Taylor, you got to that point where you said, aha, now we can start to add this new center of excellence that we didn’t have
Glenn: Yes I think you know, we have several more centers of excellence in our organization today than we did when I started at Taylor back in 2010. And and I would say that because. We’ve had multiple acquisitions just in those, you know, since 2010, we’ve had so many additional acquisitions, the advantage that you get by adding to your point by adding the additional centers of excellence and or adding additional expertise and and you know, size to those centers of excellence is you have more Business units across which you can spread those costs so, you know, we use just obviously a simple allocation model.
It’s very straightforward, but but that allows you to bring in that next new thing, that next new technology, that next new you know, software platform, that next new individual, whatever expertise that you are then centralizing you then have a larger organization across which you can spread those expenses, so everybody can benefit from that across the organization by only having to invest a very small amount of their own individual P& L dollars.
So, I think growth helps that time helps that, and and I think probably to some degree, maybe competitive threat helps to facilitate that or encourage that across the across the organization.
Peter: Yeah, it’s interesting. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is from a marketer’s career perspective, what’s most valuable for them at what time, where a lot of marketers, I think, who listen to this listen to this podcast may be. Thank you. Be working in smaller companies, early stage startup kind of companies where you do a little bit of everything and you can be a generalist and it exposes you to a little bit of everything, which is fantastic in some ways.
At the same time, there’s huge value in being in a larger organization where you’re dealing with more sophisticated, more complex problems. You have to have deeper expertise in certain areas. How do you think about the trade off of those? two kind of domains from being in a smaller, more nimble organization versus working in a larger, more complex, more sophisticated, sometimes more bureaucratic kind of marketing organization.
Glenn: I can speak to that actually with a fair amount of experience because I have worked at one organization for a couple of years where I was employee number 60 60 employees, startup company. They were just about they were going to have their IPO about 60 days after I started. And, you know, when you’re working in an organization of.
10, 15, 20, 60 people you become really truly the Jack of all trades, so to speak, because you just have to do more. There’s more that you are responsible for. And you’re doing really because you’re really responsible for the entire marketing function for that product or service of what you’re working on.
But because of that, you actually lose. You gain the breadth, but you lose a little bit of the depth, because you just have so many hours in the day, you have so many things that have to get done that are high priority, so you naturally don’t you sacrifice the depth for doing that, because you sort of necessarily have to.
And then you just kind of go deep where you need to, like maybe deep on a product error, you know, timelink because of an upcoming show or what have you. But then I’ve also worked in an organization that has 10, 000 employees multinational one organization that I worked at HIDGlobal had offices in 170 countries and you know, you know, thousands of employees and, you know, literally worldwide and constantly on different time zones and meetings on you know, in, on calls and traveling and so forth.
And and so there you get really great focus, super deep in, in a certain area. But maybe not quite as much breadth because now the organization is bigger. So there’s that difference. The only other thing that I would add that I think is interesting is any chance that a marketer has to accept a cross functional opportunity.
I would highly advise to do it. You know, I have worked tangentially with legal teams throughout my whole career. You have to do that with marketing, with HR teams with finance teams, all of these teams, but only until for about a two and a half year window when I was working at LifeTouch did I accept a cross functional assignment to manage our two manufacturing facilities.
And and so other than supporting manufacturing software, I had very little exposure to understanding how you actually run And so what I always found fascinating was marketing activities are always constructive activities. They are constructive. You are constructing the future. You are building the future.
Building a new product, building a new market, constructing something, inventing something that’s never been there. But in marketing, I’m sorry, in manufacturing, You are involved day to day in deconstructive activities. You are tearing everything out. You are, you know, reducing everything to its minimal, you know, point.
How do I get this, you know, widget through from this point to that point? How do I rip costs out? How do I make everything more efficient? And so by deconstructing everything there, I actually found that then when I got back into marketing and technology, I actually became a better marketer because I understood how we actually produce those products and what ultimately do we have to do and how do I need to attract the right customer to bring that into the organization.
So, so anyway, so not only would I say. You know, focus, yes, you know, depending on wherever you are at as a marketer today, whether it’s a small organization, a big organization, a multinational, a multi, you know, international but also don’t forget, you know, there are benefits to short term mine was two and a half years, but to take a short term assignment.
In another functional area that could help, manufacturing is one. I started my career in sales. And so having that sales background, that manufacturing background, plus the exposure to legal and HR, et cetera, as you just get to in marketing, all of those make you a more well rounded leader to drive a marketing team forward.
Peter: I completely agree with you, Glenn, and I’m glad you brought this up because it’s it’s a personal passion point for me to encourage people earlier in their careers, especially to just think creatively about what they’re doing. And marketing is more and more a pure business function. You really need to understand the business connection to the decisions that you’re making, regardless of where you are.
inside the marketing function. There’s always a point you should be able to see what effect you’re having on a P& L or the balance sheet. Based on what you’re doing, what your specific activity is. And I agree if you can get some broader cross functional experience, it’s really valuable. And a lot of marketers did what I did to get that, which was, I remember going this was probably back in the, in, in the mid to late nineties, I guess it was the mid nineties.
I was running a team in marketing, I don’t know, about 25 people. I ran a corporate marketing function for a public company. I and I decided that For my development, I actually wanted to get into, I’ve never had never been a product manager. I wanted to be a product manager. So I took a job in product management as an individual contributor and people thought I was crazy.
But it was really formative for me in understanding much more. And we actually had some physical products we were working with. So it really got me involved in the manufacturing process, the forecasting process, the finance process, the everything, right? Really understanding all the flows of the business, which was really valuable.
And one of the things I just, we don’t have a ton of time left. This is going really quickly today, but one of the things I wanted to bring up that you bring to the table, which is interesting is your personal education experience is really fascinating. So talk a little bit about your Ph. D. and maybe how that has informed you as a marketing
Glenn: Great question. I would say so after I earned my bachelor’s and then and then my MBA my master’s I knew I wanted to to continue my academic pursuits with earning a PhD. And and I spoke with a friend once who said I was trying to get advice, like, should I do it, should I not do it, et cetera.
And they came down with one phrase that still sticks with me today. And they said only pursue a Ph. D. if you are curious about, curious enough about answering a question. And I’ve always had that thirst for knowledge, that sense of kind of ongoing persistent curiosity. And and you have to have that as you go through a process of earning a Ph.
D. because for me, it took six years and 10 months or so. To complete that. It’s a tremendous amount of work to do that. Some people obviously do it much faster if they would do it point, do it full time. I was doing my part time. But but I have found that desire in this, the way in which you actually have that passion to understand and maintain objectivity you know, it is so important as a marketer to continue to delve into the data and make sure is what I am looking at.
True is what I am looking at accurate. Can I peel back the onion more? And and so that sort of drive in my PhD stays with me today as a marketer to continue to question, are we optimized? Are we doing the right things? What else can we be doing to improve? And and just be curious about that.
Sometimes it’s as important to understand the the question as it is to understand and determine what the answer is. So sometimes if you can ask the right question you uncover more value to your organization.
Peter: It’s really great points and it’s funny in my book, The Next CMO, we talk about the concept of marketers should behave. Like scientists, not promoters. So that you should really employ the scientific method as you’re starting to think about your marketing decisions. So as an example, you start with a thesis.
What do you think is going to happen? And then you design some experiments and you run some experiments and you look at the data and you don’t spin the data. You look at the data and you tell the truth based on what the data is telling you. And you can be an extremely successful marketer and extremely successful scientists.
If you disprove something, it’s okay. And a lot of people really struggle with with that concept.
Glenn: and one of the, one last thing I would just share with you, one thing I, just to build on what you just said, the only other thing I would add to that is sometimes you can even, as a marketer, ask the question before you go out and actually gather the data by posing a simple question. If 80 percent of your respondents said this, what would we change?
And if only 20 percent of your respondents said this. Would you still go forward with it, or vice versa? Like, so in other words, sometimes I’ll use extremes to determine whether or not, is it even valuable enough for us to spend the cycles, do, spend the time to go out to even acquire the data to answer the question?
Because if you’re not going to necessarily change anything, or if the data doesn’t, if the data wouldn’t inform your action, then do you really need to go out and actually gather the data? So just building on what you just said, that’s even one step earlier.
Peter: that’s, it’s amazing. Great advice. And speaking of advice we’re unfortunately at the end of our time, and I have to ask you my last question. Which is, what advice would you, Glenn, give to current or aspiring CMOs?
Glenn: I would say that the most important thing to remember is that your connections through the organization, particularly as you partner with your sales team, as you partner with your finance team, and as you partner with your manufacturing team, those partnerships internally help you to understand the business more where you can uncover the value Thank you.
that you can actually bring to drive growth into the organization and continue to optimize competitive advantage.
Peter: Awesome. Well, fantastic advice. Fantastic conversation, Glenn. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you all for listening to the show. I appreciate it if you’ve made it now almost 40 minutes into the discussion here. A little bit longer than I usually do, but I was really fascinated by this. So, if you have ideas about future guests or topics you’d like to hear on The Next CMO, please drop me a line at thenextcmoatplanful.
com. Make sure that you follow us on all those social media things and thanks again to my… Sponsor Planful, check them out at planful. com for their fantastic software to help you manage your marketing plan and budgets and and optimize your budget and ROI. So, check them out at planful. com.
So thanks, Glenn. Really enjoyed the conversation and
have a great day.
Glenn: Thanks so much, Peter. Goodbye.