MarTech Interview With Nick Ford, CMO at Mendix

Nick Ford, CMO at Mendix highlights more on what it takes for modern-day CMOs to build bespoke marketing journeys:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Nick, we’d love to hear more about your B2B journey and key learnings, and what it’s like being Mendix’s new CMO…

I started as a Cobol programmer in the steel Industry in Sheffield. I was a young and enthusiastic soon-to-be professional developer, or so I thought. But developing software turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. With so much distance between me and the real users of whatever I was writing at the time, I often had no idea. It was almost impossible to build anything usable. We built a manufacturing software solution, a business I knew nothing about. In fact, I knew little about any business domain at that stage, being so young. It dawned on me at that time that the process of writing software was broken. It wasn’t just the complexity of writing the code. It was the communication gap between the subject matter expert and the developer. That single learning set me on a winding career path that ultimately led me to my recent appointment as CMO for Mendix, the leader in low-code.

Being the new CMO is a dream come true in many ways. I’ve spent most of my professional career in the pursuit of solving the communication gap between business and IT and now I get to lead the marketing efforts for the company that arguably founded the latest low-code movement. Over the years I learned to adapt and be agile, which is something that I’m keen to bring more to the marketing team at Mendix. I’m working with some of the best marketers in the industry and in many ways, they know more about the core marketing activities than I do, but I hope to bring a new dimension to the team, to add a growth dimension to everything we do, to really focus on the outcomes, which is ultimately successful and happy customers and employees. Growth is the word of the day for me, and we’re building capabilities to put Marketing at the center of the business.

We’d love a quick dive into your ‘’CMO’’ mind, what are some of the core marketing strategies that you’ll enable or help drive through 2022/2023; given current trends – what do you feel B2B marketers need to focus on through the rest of the year?

I believe we need to focus on how marketing impacts the growth of our business.

Marketing sits at the intersection between the customer, the seller and the product. Because of this unique position, we have insight into every aspect of our go to market strategy, as well as access to an endless amount of data that we collect through our tech stack.

We must develop a deep understanding of buyer behaviors and use that information to help our organization make better-informed decisions. Our business is shifting more and more towards inbound, and we’re able to track prospects’ activity a good six months before engagement in a sales process as they start their self-evaluation journey. Through careful analysis and the implementation of the right technology, we can create a bespoke journey, especially for prospects inside our target accounts. We need to focus on how we use that data to improve the prospects’ experience, serving up relevant content and enabling sales teams with specific information that they can use in outreach to take a tailored sense-making approach to their early interactions. Marketing must begin to focus on growth, which means working cross-functionally to deliver intelligence that improves every aspect of customer and prospect interaction.

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How do you feel CMOs of today need to revisit how they shape their teams and martech choice, what kind of processes should they be implementing to ensure optimized used of their martech viz a viz marketing goals?

We need to look below the waterline and not just at the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much going on down there that we don’t understand. Business is being won and lost out of sight through the choices in the content we create and place on our digital channels.

Looking at the budget mix between people, programs and martech is necessary to understand where you are spending and how effective that spending is, then assess what tools can be used to improve efficiencies. Tools that allow you to understand what your prospects and customers are doing out of sight help you make better decisions when nurturing prospects and preparing your internal organization to act on the intelligence.

AI and ML will play an increasing role in helping track patterns across customer buying cycles. For me, the key to the success and longevity of the marketing function is to shift gears and look beyond traditional health metrics, build strong relationships with other functions, sales being the obvious one but also customer success, finance and product. Become a partner for growth.

In what ways do you predict core changes in B2B marketing to impact the industry over the next few years: some highlights?

A shift more and more to inbound and account-based marketing. AI and ML will be at the core of the marketing tech stack, but most importantly, we need to prepare marketing to support new customer business models that will take root, especially with the rise of the composable enterprise, which will see ecosystems of customers, partners and systems integrators composing and adapting solutions from packaged business capabilities via a central marketplace.

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Five thoughts on what you feel CMOs should do when building out marketing ops processes today?

    1. Be clear about how you’re spending and make sure that you’re optimized between labor, programs and MarketingOps.
    2. Go beyond marketing to build insights that will enable every function to improve the customer journey.
    3. Embed cross-functional working into marketing updates and ensure that you have a monthly cadence that educates all functions on what you have learned and how they can use the learning to improve their services to the customer.
    4. Look at how AI and ML can support your B2B efforts now.
    5. Prepare for a more complex hands-off buyer journey that will evolve over the coming years into an ecosystem of connected partners, integrators and customers assembling solutions from reusable business components connected via APIs. A new business model will be required.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!

Focus on your health and well-being first and foremost. Only then should you dedicate your time to improving your marketing skills.

Sponsorship // Logistics CIO Europe 2020 // 11 – 12 March, 2020 // Amsterdam

Mendix, a Siemens business and the global leader in enterprise low-code, revolutionizes the way applications are built in the digital enterprise. With the Mendix platform, organizations can broaden their development capability and fix the myriad business challenges that need to be addressed through software.

Nick Ford is CMO at Mendix.

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