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Diary of a first-time CMO - Marrying ideas and execution

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

Marrying ideas and execution

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In my time as a marketer, I’ve noticed there tend to be three categories of person:

  • The ideas person.
  • The execution person.
  • The all-rounders.

Unfortunately, there really aren’t that many in the third group who combine ideas and execution. Because these people really make magic happen.

For example, when we were listening to a lot of the content from Chris Walker and Refine Labs on demand generation, we could have just taken those ideas, shared them on Slack and continued to listen thinking ‘wow, this would be great to do’, but never really following through. Getting stuck in the unknown of how to execute on it.

Because there was no clear pathway on how to go from lead gen to demand gen - it's a daunting thing to execute. We could have just continued to do the same things.

But that would have added zero value and we wouldn’t be where we are today.

You must be able to take something you see - a good idea or a movement - and be able to see how it can be applied and implemented within your unique business circumstances.

And what’s even better is to be able to show the results at the back end too. Whether they’re positive or negative, neither should block you from trying.

There tends to be a bias on people being either one way or the other, and it’s less common for people to be able to marry up the two.

The way we were able to make sure we executed our demand generation plans was to dedicate a specific workshop to it. We locked ourselves in a room for two days and worked on what we (very aptly I must say) called ‘Project Find Out What Refine Labs Are Doing and Do it Better’.

I’d set everyone homework to go away and listen to all of the podcasts and read various articles and blogs, giving them a full week to do their demand gen research so we could all come into the workshop with the same knowledge and understanding.

We all came together and tried to reverse-engineer what we could gather from the information we had heard.

And then we started a new project. Again, not sure how we came up with such a fabulous name… ‘Project Shift How We Do B2B marketing’.

But we came out of the workshop with a clear set of actions, and we just went away and executed all of it and it’s massively evolved as we’ve learned more along the way.

But I believe a lot of people would never have tried what we did because they couldn’t see the exact steps to take.

Refine Labs offer the mindset and some gems of insights on how to run things. For example, setting up the conversion window on LinkedIn so you can still report on whether people convert in a 30-day window of seeing your ungated ads, even though you’re not pushing people to a form to convert anymore. But they don’t give you the play-by-play steps of what to do and how to structure it.

It really does take initiative and your own creativity to come up with a model that’s going to fit into your ecosystem.

We’ve built it in a way that makes the most sense for us and our ICP. And we’ve continued to iterate on it as time goes on.

When there’s no written playbook for how something should be done, just make one for yourself. Because being able to marry ideas and execution is a huge competitive advantage.

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