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How to Be a Hands-On Marketing Leader?

Cognism's CMO shifts between strategic and hands-on modes. During this period of Alice's diary, she leans into her operational, hands-on mode. 

For instance, tackling UTM tracking setup, revamping our organic LinkedIn strategy, addressing our technical SEO gap, and executing bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) ads.

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

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5 Tips for hands-on marketing leaders

You can see throughout my posts when I go from ‘strategic mode’ into ‘hands-on mode’.

This is one example of when I’ve decided to get into the nitty gritty - and you can see there were four main areas I wanted to look at.

1. Make impact on pipeline and revenue

Tracking a demand generation strategy is difficult, it’s not always possible to directly attribute what has been successful.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of insights that you lose when you don’t gate content anymore.

Yes, we knew that what we were doing was working as we were hitting targets and generating revenue and pipeline at record rates.

But if we were being held to account on the exact initiative that was having the biggest impact, that would have been quite difficult to say.

So you need other ways to measure the activities you’re doing and the impact on pipeline and revenue.

We went back to the drawing board in terms of how we set up our UTMs.

And this task really was one of those times when I just had to roll up my sleeves, assess how the process would work with our marketing operations team and implement it throughout the org.

2. Review organic LinkedIn posting strategy

For a while, we had fallen into a trap of posting thoughtlessly on LinkedIn. We chose to put out things like case studies or links to new content - without really considering what people would like to see.

I wanted to bring back a lens, looking at LinkedIn as a channel to showcase the value we offer upfront.

So I worked alongside the marketer who was looking after the LinkedIn channel at the time and just set a strict line in the sand - no promotional content. At all. None. Everything has to be value-based.

Going back to basics really helped us to keep true to our mission.

It did take a few weeks for everyone to settle into this idea - for example, the DG team might ask to share a case study on the LinkedIn page. I’d step in and say no, it should be run as part of our paid always on social proof bucket. That’s not for organic LinkedIn marketing.

But after the first two or three weeks, we were back to being completely value-focused, and our LinkedIn has grown from strength to strength since then.

In fact, our follower growth has increased by 84% more between January and November this year in comparison to March to December last year. And our engagement is up 46.7% in the same time period. 

3. Bring in specialised talent in-house 

Up until not too long ago, we didn’t have any SEO expertise in-house. Myself and the Senior Content Manager just handled it ourselves with the self-taught knowledge we had.

So we have definitely had a technical SEO gap and generally, what we did do was what I was able to do myself. Yes, not the most glamorous tasks but I didn’t want to hand off the responsibility to anyone else in-house when we didn’t yet have the required expertise.

Eventually, it got to a stage when I realised that the amount of work that needed to be done to keep our health score up, alongside all the other SEO-related work we could be doing didn’t scale. 

We needed to bring in resources to cover these tasks so I could be freed up in other areas.

4. Continually adapt strategies to reach the customer

This has been one of the biggest reasons for our success in demand generation.

Something I don’t think we truly understood when we pivoted away from lead gen was that we needed to over-index on all of the bottom of funnel content that we created. In addition, we needed to think carefully about how we distributed that.

Because you will fail if all you look at is content and thought leadership.

Yes, you’ll be adding value to your audience - but you also won’t be educating them at all on your product.

We really needed to build out this bucket. We didn’t really have any supporting assets for this, and yes, we could spin up some ads on Cognism’s quality data and blah blah blah.

But where would the ad go to? What would the page look like? How would we make it somewhere that our audience would spend time? Did we have videos explaining how our product operates? What would the workflow be?

Here are examples of over-indexing BOFU content:






Here we filmed our sales development director making cold calls. We wanted to align with our product but also record something that was more human and something that resonated.


Less a resource than a full video case study.


Is there a way to tangibly communicate results?

Note we started this using a spreadsheet then built the calculator after we saw success.

5. Be human

One of our key learnings from testing the above approaches is: 'be human'. Don't shy away from promoting a video just because it has a tiny mistake in it. Done is better than perfect and 9 times out of 10 your audience will prefer the more raw version.

We over-indexed in this area and I think it’s been one of the biggest reasons for our success in the switch. Had we not done this, I don’t think we would have been half as successful.

My advice to anyone in this position would be:

  • You need diversity.
  • It needs to be persona-driven.

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