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Diary of a first-time CMO - Art and science

Hey B2B marketers

Here it is. Four years, $50m+ ARR and 200 pages later… My journey as a first-time CMO.

Covering the key learnings I've gathered in four years of leadership. This diary reveals the lessons that helped me scale Cognism from $3m to $50m ARR, build a team from 3 to 39, and transform our set-up from a classic lead gen function to a demand gen engine.

It’s my handbook for B2B marketers looking to thrive in leadership.

(especially if you’re as daunted as I was when I started out!) 

Diary of a first-time CMO by Alice De Courcy
By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read

Art and science

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Cognism didn’t run webinars before I joined the company, so I knew this was somewhere we could get ourselves a quick win.

Although because we didn’t have a process for webinars beforehand, we had to learn what webinars meant at Cognism. 

  • What do we want them to be?
  • What was the process for running them?
  • What did we want to get out of them?
  • How did they fit into our wider marketing strategy?

In the early days, I just wanted to build muscle memory. Find our feet in terms of how we went about the process because it was totally foreign to the company. We didn’t have the tech or the infrastructure, so that had to be our starting point.

Once we had managed to get a regular series of webinars going, we discovered we could very easily scale our content by recycling and reusing webinar content. We’d alter it slightly for other purposes, such as in blogs or video.

This was so important for us in this early stage of our journey as a small marketing team and it proved to be a winning tactic.

Once we found our way through the whole webinar process I came to the sudden realisation:

Somehow we had managed to end up running the same old playbook. We were running the webinars in the same way we ran everything else, because that had been the way we had always done it.

We had a process, a cadence for webinar frequency and a clear activation checklist, all of which was being followed. But I couldn’t help but think we had fallen into the trap of webinars becoming an activity we did ‘just because we had always done it that way’.

Creativity and thought had gone from the process and I was left questioning the impact and role in the overall strategy.

So I wanted to change things up.

We used to care about sign-ups and attendees, that was what all the energy and effort went into.

I wanted to flip this on its head. I wanted us instead to put as much thought and concern into the quality of the content and the format of the webinars as we had been doing to drive sign-ups.

Success would now be measured on how many great quality snippets we could create from the webinar to use on paid and organic socials.

  • How many organic LinkedIn posts could be taken from the webinar?
  • How engaging were the chat and questions during the live event?

It’s amazing how when I changed the KPIs for the team, how much better in quality the webinars became. With that, the attendees and sign-ups followed naturally.

It was a great learning for me as a B2B marketing leader to always take a step back and evaluate the ‘work as normal’ activities.

If you feel something can be done better then you should rethink it. Adjust your strategy in order to maximise value.

No one will prompt you to do this; it has to come from you as the marketing leader. Be honest with yourself and continue to second guess the approaches and actions you’ve put in place, as well as the KPIs attached.

What is measured gets improved!

I mentioned a video in the LinkedIn post above. We created it to try to convey the value of the content that would be available in the webinar up-front.

And I feel we still have some improvements to make in this regard, although I’m not sure any B2B organisations really do it well. But what this experiment did show us is that it can work.

The issue is it takes a lot more time and creativity.

I believe there are still great opportunities in B2B to change the way that webinars are run. Such as:

Reward attendees

We run cold calling live sessions where we let people test out their scripts and cold calls live, while our subject matter expert coaches them on how to improve.

If they don’t turn up live, they miss out on this opportunity to benefit from 1-2-1 live coaching.

Refine Labs run the playbook. They only release the audio of their sessions, so live attendees get to exclusively benefit from the screen-sharing content.

Showcasing value

There’s still so much space to rethink how you can show people the value they can get out of attending live events.

We’re collecting testimonials as we get such great dark social engagement and feedback; this is worth using for promotional purposes.

Another area of opportunity could be promotional trailers with snippets of the insights people can expect.

This is largely unexplored in the B2B world but we all know that nowadays, video is how a lot of people consume content. (include our promotional video)

Want to keep up with Alice's latest CMO advice?

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