The Changing Landscape of Security Marketing with Gautam Mehandru, CMO of Illumio

Vicky Houser10 Jan 2024
PodcastsThe Next CMO BlogThought Leadership


This episode features Guatam Mahandru, CMO of Illumio, a cybersecurity company based in Seattle. He discusses the evolution of marketing in the B2B tech sphere, the creation of new categories of solutions, and the importance of targeting the right customer for their business model. Guatam also explains the changing landscape of the market, the role of a modern CMO, and the importance of a strategic and data-driven approach in managing marketing operations. Plus, discover insights into the growth and expansion strategy for Illumio.


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Produced by PodForte

In this episode, we speak to Guatam Mahandru, the CMO of Illumio, a cybersecurity company based in Seattle.

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 Gautam Mahendru. Gautam is the CMO of Illumio. Illumio [00:01:00] is a late stage venture backed company based in Seattle, Washington, that’s focused on security software. Their specific area is around stopping data breaches with something they call zero trust segmentation.

Gautam talks about the idea of creating a new category of solution And how that has benefited Illumio, what they’ve had to do to change their approach to marketing and how they’ve had to adapt their team as they get to later stages and look forward to their next stage of growth as a company. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show.

Hey, Gotham. Thank you so much for joining me on the next CMO podcast. And to get us started, can you tell us a little bit more about Gotham and a little bit more about Illumio?

Guatam: Sure. Thanks for having me on, Peter. It’s a pleasure to be here. A little bit about me. So look, I’ve been in in B2B tech for over 20 years, 23 years to be exact. I’ve sort of played a lot of different roles over the last two decades, but[00:02:00] predominantly just in and around marketing. Grew up in product marketing.

I run a full stack marketing organization now at Illumio, you know, spent a lot of time in, you know, with enterprise companies and a lot of times with smaller companies as well. And anywhere in between and Illumia right now is a venture backed, you know, pre IPO, late stage Series F, specifically company, and we’re in the cybersecurity space.

It’s a very red hot space, as you can imagine, so. And we basically stop breaches and ransomware from spreading into cyber disasters. That’s kind of what what we do. And we pioneered this this category called Zero Trust Segmentation or Microsegmentation. So, so that’s what we do.

And yeah, been been a great journey for me for the last couple of years here at at Illumio.

Peter: Awesome. Well, it’s a great mission. I mean, obviously many of us have encountered directly or indirectly some of those awful things. So we’re pleased that you invented this category of the space. And it sounds like you’ve had a [00:03:00] great career leading up to this. One of the things I was going to ask you about, Gotham, just going through some of your background is, you’ve done some of the

Concur business. And you’re now sort of in the middle. with a late stage venture kind of company. What do you think are the sort of benefits and and downsides of each of those scales as a marketing exec?

Guatam: You know, it’s interesting. So, so yes, I’ve had the the privilege of of being at some of these companies. I actually moved to Seattle. In 2008, that’s where I’m coming to you live from. It’s 2008 for a very small company, right? Less than a couple hundred people. And it was, the difference was, you know, there was an existing category, there was product market [00:04:00] fit.

And it was all about sort of, you know, we were considered an ankle biter at the time from the big guys. But, you know, what the company needed at that time was different from marketing. It was very much a product focus role, make sure the positioning, the messaging, and how we compete. is is there and important.

That was a big piece of it. And, you know, fast forward to bigger companies at scale like SAP Concur, you know, it was very different because you’re actually talking about scale, you’re talking about efficiency. Efficiency metrics become super important on not just how are you going to create pipeline, but what are those conversion rates and progression of pipeline?

Because even a percent or two or three percent conversion rates will lead to like many millions of dollars, right? Full established category, new market entries, launches. I mean, the whole enchilada, you can think about it as you probably already know from your time. So, you know, at that 500 to a billion dollar scale, because that was still part of, remember, the Concur [00:05:00] acquisition that had been made.

So, it was part of the SAP Concur, part of the SAP family. So, that was that. And then now, which is sort of somewhere in between late stage, not early stage, we’ve obviously found product market fit. You know, it’s it’s sort of getting towards that scale for us as well. Just, you know, because we’ve established ourselves, we established our presence.

We’ve done a lot of things well over the last sort of 10 years that the company’s been around. I mean, it’s been around for more than a decade. And it’s a little different here because our journey involves creating a category, so to speak. And that’s been sort of the journey we’ve been on. But it’s what the company needs right now.

How do you help position? How do you tell the story? And if you kind of look back at my background, you’ve seen I’ve changed industries a few times, right? Going from like storage to T& E to now cybersecurity. So the need of the hour changes in terms of cybersecurity is red hot, but there’s over probably, you know, 300 or so vendors out there that do some of the stuff that we’re doing, right?

So in a bunch of different categories. So [00:06:00] it’s a lot of a lot of things that you’ve got to sort of figure out when you get in, what stage the company is, what they need. What’s working? What’s not working? Do they have an established category? Is this something that you’re looking to pour gasoline on?

And that’s been my experience over the last sort of two decades or so.

Peter: Well, it’s a great perspective and you mentioned something about this idea of Sort of what the company needs at a particular time. And I think it’s really important to understand that because companies go through these change points, transformation points, depending on where they are and their needs really change.

And it’s probably. In some cases, why a lot of companies sort of chew up and spit out a bunch of CMOs because maybe they need a horse for a different course at a certain point where they have just a very different need. So you talked about with Illumio it’s about sort of, Defining a category.

So tell me a little bit more about what one what that means. And then [00:07:00] two, what do you need to do as the CMO to make that happen? So

Guatam: So, I mean, look, this is the crux of what we’ve been doing with with Illumio, right? So Illumio, the journey started 10 years ago. We have founders that started the journey 10 years ago and. You know, category creation is a word sometimes it’s overused in the industry as well as saying, Hey, we got to create a category because so first of all, it never always makes sense to create a category just because you know, you can doesn’t mean you need to.

But it’s more than having a game changing product also. So for us, you know, at Illumio, when I walked in and even before that, it was about sort of, and it’s either one or two things, right? You’re doing something completely different or it’s a novel. approach to something that exists, right? That’s sort of what I look at when I think about category creation.

But you know, that’s what we started to do here, which is, you know, as a CMO and the ones that that were there before me as well in this role you know, we’re trying to identify the problem and delivering the cure to [00:08:00] that problem, right? That’s what category creation is about because you build a moat, right?

If you’re able to do that. You kind of own the narrative. You create a framework, and then you’re kind of forcing others to play in that sort of framework and respond back to what you’re trying to do. So for us, it was all about, and it still is, by the way, because the journey still continues. This is not an overnight thing.

You you know, category creation takes takes a couple of years, at least. So, that’s what we’re on the mission here to do, and we’ve sort of successfully been able to make a lot of progress over the last couple of years as well. And look, it’s important because it just gives you that that competitive advantage over over competitors.

So me as a CMO, and by the way, you can’t just have CMOs take ownership of creating a category. It’s everybody’s job to create the category and and do the things. The product person has to have a roadmap that lines up to it. Everybody else. You know, uses that category as a way to prioritize. It gives you an opportunity to ruthlessly prioritize everything you’re doing [00:09:00] and then just sharpen your internal focus because this is what we’re going to do.

This is what we’re good at and it helps from everything from product to go to market and sales execution. That’s what we’re intending to do with with what we started here at Illumio.

Peter: does it make it harder as you go through this category creation process to find prospects who you want to turn into customers who are in market for something that may not be completely defined. And it’s, so maybe I’ll half answer the question myself, right? So the difference tends to be, is it really a fundamentally different category and a fundamental new thing?

Or is it a new positioning? So is it a new way to do something people were doing before and they may have an existing budget for it as example?

Guatam: And that’s the key point, right? I mean, you nailed it on the head there, Peter. What is there an existing category? Is there a budget assigned to it? And are we just taking a new [00:10:00] approach? But, you know, for me, and this is what we did, right, we took a step back and basically figured out, you know, what is the going in assumption?

What’s the context? Are we trying to figure out a new way of doing something? Is the, elevating the conversation beyond just the product to say, What is the problem we’re trying to solve? Are the customers solving it some other way today? Or are we giving them a novel approach to solving a problem which will give them x, y, and z?

Once you understand the why, and by the way, the why should have some data because your point of view without data is just an opinion, right? So if you have some data, of something happening already in the marketplace or a trend that’s that we’re seeing and our point of view on it. That’s always a good place to start.

In our case, you know, we saw that happening. Breaches. Breaches are happening more often than they were happening five years ago, two years ago, even ten years ago. And they’re more catastrophic, like the, you know, the ransomware payments and the breaches, the impact of that, super high [00:11:00] now. So that’s the going in assumption.

So that helps you analyze and put your point of view on why this sort of technology or solution or approach is going to help that big macro trend that we’re seeing. And by the way, macro trend is, you know, if it’s a macro trend worth investing in, you better believe others are going to invest in it as well, right?

So you’re not the only one doing it. But that’s how we, but the customers then need to be given that narrative in terms of. In our case, you know, Y Microsegmentation or Y Zero Trust Segmentation. You have to start with that because that doesn’t exist. Then you get into Y Illumio or Y Company X, right? So that’s the story arc that I’ve been sort of telling since I got here is why this, why Illumio, and then why now, right?

So that you connect these three successfully. You’re then able to sort of either create budget for something that’s not yet created, to your question. Or if the [00:12:00] budget is budget line item is there, you have to be able to make a connection to why it’s best to assign and align that budget to this problem that that they may or may not know, or they may know, but they were doing it somewhere else or in some other solution.

So that’s how I sort of, think about creating the category.

Peter: tHat’s great. And in your case with Lumio, it’s First of all, you have a sophisticated buying group that you’re selling to anyway, with obviously a very well understood problem. So it’s not like you’re telling someone, educating them for the first about the pain and illuminating, maybe that’s how the word came in you know, educating them about the problem.

It’s more about educating about a unique approach to the solution. Is that fair?

Guatam: I think it is fair. I think the approach to the problem that exists is well understood. I think our approach to solving the problem is still something where we are [00:13:00] spending cycles in educating and illuminating, I’ll use your word, the buyer, to say that, hey, this is the approach that you can use to be able to overcome this problem that you have.

And then, of course, it’s about why we’re the best at it, and we never say we’re the only ones doing it, right? I mean, it’s like the market of, a market of one is a market of none. So, so there’s other people, but you kind of own and create the framework with the customer that you then own the narrative on our point of view, why we think that this is the way it should be done.

And then, you know, you kind of put the competitors on on the defensive, so to speak. So

Peter: Makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. And in fact, there’s huge value in being able to think quite broadly about the domain that you operate in. Just talking to someone who… worked on the agency side with I think it was Gatorade. And they got so successful to to grow their market. They had to change their view [00:14:00] on the market from sports drinks to hydration, right.

And say that, you know, we’re competing with water. We’re not just competing with with other sports drinks. And it’s a different approach. So for you you’re competing in a very large category, obviously. So it’s about thinking about how you position and go to market.

And speaking of go to market, let’s talk a little bit about that for Illumio. First of all, who is the customer? Do you have an enterprise size focus? What’s the ICP like for Illumio?

Guatam: So look, the ideal ICP is organizations of all sizes, right, in every single industry and vertical. Because if you think about taking a step back, saying that, hey, You know, ransomware breaches. You hear about the, you know, the big, the bigger companies that have been breached, you know, over the last five, six years, you’ve heard of all the big breaches.

What people don’t realize is that these SMBs and smaller companies, they also get ransomwared and breached and popped, as we sometimes like to say. They actually pay the ransom, but you never makes the news. [00:15:00] So the, this, the problem is existent up and down the stack worldwide. in every vertical. Now the, some of the industries that are regulated, obviously you see and hear a lot more about, but so for us, these are the customers, that’s the ICP, you know, and we’ve had success, you know, since the company’s beginnings, and we’ve got improved our solution at scale and some of the largest sort of G2K Global 2000 companies as well.

So, but this issue or this opportunity and this ability to solve this definitely exists up and down the stack. So that’s that’s how we’re approaching it as well. The opportunity is huge. I mean, the TAM on this is humongous, which is why, you know, obviously folks like myself and others in the company are pretty excited about taking our unfair share of that market.

Peter: That’s great. And how do you get it? What is your route to market? Do you have a traditional enterprise y sales model? Do you have a PLG, e commerce carrier pigeons, something else?

Guatam: Yeah, I mean it’s it’s very similar to typical B two B, you know, [00:16:00] enterprise. We’ve got a sales led go to market motion, right? It’s it’s not very PLG. It’s it’s very sales led channel, channel partners pick, make a big sort of a difference with us. ’cause, you know, cybersecurity, especially, like I said, there’s it’s the routes to market.

It’s the alliances that you milk build. Sometimes it’s one plus one equals three because you augment the solution that you have. It’s all about the ecosystem. But route to market is direct sales. It’s it’s with channel partners, through channel partners, all kinds of channel distribution methodologies, because, you know, that’s how a lot of enterprises buy today, right?

This is who they buy from, what resonates with an enterprise class customer. Actually, sometimes it’s different. It is very different than mid market and commercial or SMB customers. So. So we have a few routes to market and and that’s how a lot of companies in our space sort of operate. It’s a direct, indirect the messaging the personas are all different.

So we tweak a lot of that to and I think about it from a product segment view as well, right? It’s just not a [00:17:00] product market. The segments are different. So we talk about product segment fits and then that’s how we go to market with With our partners and obviously you know, direct as well.

Peter: And how do you think about demand creation in that diverse go to market model that, that you have? So what, what’s maybe start with what is your overall demand strategy for Illumia?

Guatam: I mean, look I think and you can tell me how it, if it’s different than than what you’ve heard over the past in the, in B2B buying space in the enterprise. But, you know, we have levers that we pull in demand creation, right? So typically, obviously we have the digital marketing lever, right?

Trying to get folks to be able to, you know, our most important asset is our website. You know, you gotta make sure that the website has messaging, positioning, get people to our website. And it’s about creating awareness through digital, it’s about creating awareness through our sort of, you know, PR function.

It’s about creating awareness through our corporate marketing function. [00:18:00] And that’s really important at the top to create that awareness. Especially going back to where we are at in our stage, in our journey. Because the market is crowded, right? And you have to be able to extract the signal from the noise if you’re a buyer sitting there.

Because you’re getting inundated with, so you have to have a point of view and you’ve got to evangelize that point of view, you know, in your top of the funnel awareness you know, way. And then you sort of create that awareness, you know, to demand process where you capture and progress the the buyer through that buyer’s journey.

But we use typical, you know, methodologies, you know, obviously we have a digital marketing team, you know, we’ve got a demand gen team. You know, SEO paid media, PR, all of that stuff to create. We do, we obviously run campaigns to, to create demands for for the for the products and solutions that we have.

And I should say solutions because it’s much more about solutions, right? People want solutions and outcomes that they’re trying to drive. So [00:19:00] that’s how we sort of try and go to market is is one of the outcomes we were driving. And then, you know, your typical other functions that help support, right?

Influencer is you, for us. The analysts, the gardeners, and the foresters of the world are important because their validation of the space and the solution is is important as well. You know, customer advocacy, all of these coming together in an integrated way is how we then create create the demand.

And again, you know, there’s a way to directly market some of this stuff through events. We also do through partner to partner, you know, campaigns and go to market motions. But there is a full flywheel of things that that need to come together to be able to, you know, just create that demand and also then you got to progress that that demand through the funnel because I’m a big believer of creating and progressing demand because otherwise he’s just throwing a good money after bad and and just creating the pipeline and sitting there.

Peter: Well, obviously your stage. It’s pretty important to [00:20:00] continue to feed the monster and drive the, what I expect is pretty high growth in a company like yours. You relatively recently raised a pretty large series F round. So you can’t do that these days without. The combination of growth and profitability, or at least path to that in this environment.

So, so that means that you have I’m sure a pretty significant piece of your brain is dedicated to that focus on growth. But if you lean back and say, hey, over the next couple of years, whatever that next milestone is for. for what Illumio will do and whether it’s growth, whether it’s an IPO, whether it’s something else.

What are the things that keep you up at night as the CMO beyond that demand engine? What are you thinking about that you need to to do to sort of unlock the potential of Illumio?

Guatam: look, I mean, it’s a great question, Peter. I think [00:21:00] about this a lot, like what’s the next 12 to 18 months look like? What’s the next 24 months look like? Because part of my job is obviously to look a little bit longer term as well, right? There’s obviously short term things that are happening, but we’re in a great position.

You know, like you said, you know, we’re a late stage company. The macro aside, nothing that we can control, but you know, we can control what we are controlling. Plus. The outside in view of the market is actively changing in front of our eyes, at least for our space, right? So we’ve been trying to get some air cover and some tailwinds from the likes of the analysts, just to sort of talk about the category that we’re in.

So we’re starting to see that. So we’re in a great place to be able to now execute over the next 12 to 18 to 24 months in a way where we have, you know, where the innovation and the outside in. Tailwind come together. That makes for, you know, the you know, pretty sort of explosive growth. [00:22:00] So we’ve been sort of prepping for that.

And I think that’s what gets me excited is outside of demand, you know, this is the areas that we’re focusing on is just making sure that we’re creating and twisting the right knobs at the right time. So that, you know, we’re ready to be able to take full advantage of what’s in front of us, which is.

The market opportunity that we’ve been talking about for a while, and it’s like, you know, I always say this internally, we’re at the cusp of sort of crossing the chasm, because in every company’s journey, you get to a point where, you know, the early adopters have seen it, they’ve adopted it, and we’ve gotten to a pretty big scale on the basis of those.

But how do we get mass market adoption, right? That requires like the inside out plus the outside in to come together, and then you’re able to take advantage of that. So, you know, I’ve been focusing on that, and yes, a big part of my job is obviously creating the awareness, which we’ve been doing, but then the demand engine needs to be there to be able to you know, be turned on at the right time to create that [00:23:00] predictability in your pipeline, and that predictability in your pipeline will lead to predictability in your business, and you can create a pipeline.

And, you know, enduring business for years to come. So, so I think about that piece, you know, a lot, just because you know, it’s that we’re at that stage and the numbers matter, the metrics matter, KPIs matter all of that stuff. And you know, so we’re managing it like a business, growing efficiently because that’s the need of the hour right now.

And but, you know, getting everything coming together to be able to press on the gas. As when the time is is there.

Peter: So you mentioned this really interesting time that companies go through where they Go from the early adopters to the early majority or mainstream or wherever you happen to be in that transition. And it’s not dissimilar from the kind of transitions companies go through where they kind of break out of, sometimes they go from a [00:24:00] single product, single audience to a multi product, multi audience or a multi product, single audience.

There’s this transition that happens. And I don’t know if you’ve been through it before, but it’s a really, it can be tricky and scary but when you do it right, it can really unlock that next gear of growth. So is that something you think about? And have you found that next gear or are you prepping?

for the next gear that you see in front of you in the coming months and quarters.

Guatam: So I, I think one, I’ve been through that that next gear in a prior life journey that I had with another company. So I’ve sort of seen that crossing the chasm, so to speak happen. And when it does, you know, it just sort of, you know, it’s that sort of switch that, that flips and you start seeing the volume, the intensity all sort of, all sort of go there.

So. onE, I’ve been through that before in the past, and then in this company now, you know, we’re at that point where I truly [00:25:00] believe that we are now starting to see that, you know, this is case in point, you know, obviously we work closely with Gartner and Forrester, who doesn’t, right, but you know, Gartner just put out a a market guide it’s a publicly available document that talks about the category that that us and a bunch of other players are in.

saying that they’re going to start to see an increase in adoption, the prediction over the next sort of four or five years, going from five, 6 percent to 60%, right? So, so therein lies the validation that the market is heading in that direction. We’re absolutely, you know, taking full advantage of of what we have right now in the market that we’re in.

And then this validation and this outside in forces that that are now lining up leads me to say the statement that I did that we’re going to be crossing the chasm here and and be able to get to mainstream adoption. And this goes to the, who’s your ICP? You know, how do we sort of get mainstream adoption?

Well, it’s not just those early adopters and the bigger companies. It’s up and down the stack. It’s all [00:26:00] verticals, you know, all geographies. And that’s what we’ve been sort of gearing up for. So, so the next, you know, 18, 24 months. 36 months, whatever it is, it’s it’s super critical for us to be able to execute.

And you can’t sort of, you know, understate the importance of execution, you know, in this in this in this space, in any space, but in this critical time in in the company’s journey.

Peter: So speaking of execution, one of the things that starts to get tricky is as you start to sort of find a new way, whether it’s a new gear, or it’s a new speed, or a broader market, or a different level of complexity, Sometimes it starts to strain the organization. So what are the things that you look at from an organization perspective to say that, Hey, this is a hard thing that’s coming up.

And this requires some kind of different way of being as a marketing [00:27:00] organization. Have you seen that? And when you see it coming, how do you think about preparing for that change?

Guatam: You know, it’s it’s interesting because it’s not just about marketing, right? This is a conversation we, you know, we have a lot and I’ve had in previous companies as well. You know, what do we need to do differently in this phase of our growth? Right? That’s essentially the, and this is a time to bring it back to what you said earlier.

This is a time that a lot of people change the leadership of the company as well, right? Saying, Hey, this is what we need. And have we had somebody that that’s done this before? So, you know, for us for the company in general, just in generic terms, the discipline that you need to put in place, the operational rigor that you need to put in place.

The ability to plan that you might not have paid a lot more attention to in the prior years of the company’s history comes at the forefront, right? It also necessitates, in some cases, the need to have a different mindset, and in that case, sometimes different people [00:28:00] on the bus, to be able to drive that mindset, drive that operational rigor, drive the ability to plan.

How do you annually operate on a plan that you put together? What are sort of the growth levers that are going to be able to… For us to accomplish that sort of, say, revenue goal. I firmly believe marketing drives the revenue. And then you kind of create the levers that you have and then the ways to be able to go about those levers and then, you know, be able to track those those KPIs or OKRs or metrics that you have.

So I really think it’s about the mindset. It’s about you know, thinking about it in the right way, thinking about what’s the next step, how do we get there? And it’s you know, current state, desired future state, steps to be able to get there. Let’s focus on those. So that’s what we in marketing, you know, have been have been doing, but I have to say that other departments inside of the company are absolutely thinking about things differently, right?

So you kind of have to be able to to get prepared a little bit differently and the mindset has to [00:29:00] change for what what we need to do.

Peter: Yeah, and it’s interesting because one of the things that, that I find is that at a certain point, every function gets to the point where you start to transition from generalists to specialists. And that point is tricky sometimes. And some people can scale. They can go from a generalist to a specialist.

Some people end up starting as a generalist at a sort of a lower level in the organization and then become a generalist as they get promoted through the organization, so they never really have to specialize. But there’s often this… Specialization transition that happens. And that’s where I think a lot of people really struggle.

And do you think about that? And from a team development, how do you make sure that you know the great minds that are inside Illumio, you can kind of keep them along for the journey and help them make these transitions?

Guatam: You know, it’s a great point. [00:30:00] I’ll tell you, I didn’t want to interrupt before when you were saying this. Some people prefer being that generalist, right? Because they enjoy having a wider aperture of what they were doing in, say, an A, B, C, D round, right? So, and then they go find that at another place if they realize that it’s sort of the aperture has has become narrower, but you got to go deeper, right?

In that, and what’s required of that function, whether it’s marketing or anything else. is a lot more and a lot different. So there are people that, you know, knowingly know that they’re, that’s why, you know, you’ve talked to people and they’re like, Hey I’m a BCD person. You know, I’m that’s what I kind of like.

Cause you know I get in there and build and get into the details. And then when it gets you know, broader, bigger, then it’s not something that they enjoy. Could they do it? Possibly. Do they enjoy doing it? Maybe not. So. Absolutely, we think about it. Not only we think about it, we’re acting on it.

And we’ve acted on it, you know, a bunch of times in previous companies as well. It is about trying to figure out what is [00:31:00] needed at this stage. It is about how, you know, how sort of the ownership of a specific function at the depth that we need for it to be able to do what it’s doing, right? It’s not about, hey, marketing has this much budget, let’s let’s create pipeline.

It’s about how that pipeline is going to be created. It’s about the ROI on that on that spend. It’s about making the right tweaks and understanding what’s working, what’s not working. I mean, CMOs and everybody in marketing can, should be able to talk CFO these days, right? It’s just becoming important.

So, so yeah, we got to go through all of that stuff and understand specifically at the depth that will allow us to make the right tweaks in the business model. to then be able to get what we need to get out of each and every function. And you need experts to be able to do that, right? That’s somebody that’s steeped in that understands it from A to Z and then is able to to provide that that sort of, you know, guide the ship in their specific functional area of the business.

So it’s a very natural, [00:32:00] you know, change in in every company’s journey, and then they make that function by function. You know, obviously marketing’s no different as well.

Peter: I know that’s fantastic and, it sounds like you’ve thought about this a lot, which is which is great. And you’re right that sometimes people prefer a particular phase of a company you and I have both done a bunch of different phases. So I don’t know if we’re outliers or crazy or something different.

But it is it is interesting that some people really find that one phase is the thing that makes them happy. Well, believe it or not, we’re almost at the end of our time here, Gotham, and I wanted to make sure we had just a minute to hear your thoughts on my favorite question, which is, what advice would you give to current or aspiring CMOs?

Guatam: cUrrent and aspiring CMOs. So, so look, you know, I’m starting to see that this happened a lot more and I would like to, you know, say to current CMOs and aspiring CMOs that they should think about this, [00:33:00] you know, a lot as they sort of, you know, are playing the roles they’re in, but CMOs, the role has evolved quite a bit, as you very well know you know, from your own journey as well.

But I think CMOs, And my advice to everybody, to the aspiring folks, is to adopt a more strategic stance in in the company’s C suite, right? That’s really important. My view is that the CMO, outside of perhaps the CEO, has a most sort of complete and overarching view of the market and the business, just because it’s so wide, the aperture of the…

of a CMO is so wide. So you got to partner with the C suite members and the sales leaders and drive the business forward. That ensures that the marketing strategy actually aligns with the business strategy. So I want them to sort of think about the role as a strategic role. You have to seat at the table to be able to do that.

And then secondly, you know, and this is obviously the data is the new currency, but they need to be able to use data. Data is at the heart of every modern marketing strategy that you can think [00:34:00] about. So I would encourage and my advice to them is to use the data for, to interpret the data and use those insights to drive your decision making.

So, and you know, it’s heartening for me to see that a lot of that is happening, you know, I speak to other CMOs that that truly believe in that as well, and it’s exactly the right way to think about the business, the right way to act, the right way to sort of carry the torch as a person that understands the product, the market, you know, creating demand, be able to sort of own the entire buyer’s journey and customer’s journey post sale.

That’s the role of a modern day CMO. And I want to, Encourage folks to think about it that way as well.

Peter: Well, Gotham, that’s fantastic advice. And like you said, take that strategic perspective in the CMO office and make sure that you’re embracing data and have data at the center of everything you do. So really appreciate your time today, Gotham, and appreciate those of you [00:35:00] listening. And if you have ideas for topics or guests that you’d like me to cover, just drop me a note at thenextcmoatplanful.

com. And make sure you follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter or X or whatever we call it these days and all those other places where we share things. Make sure that you give us a nice rating and review if you’ve got a moment to do that. It helps us a great deal. Thank you very much to Planful, my sponsors for this episode and for this show.

And Gotham, thanks again and I hope you have a great day.

Guatam: Thanks for having me on, Peter. I hope you have a great day too. [00:36:00]