Interview with former Commbank, Xero and Dell CMO, Andy Lark: Why spending time on the ‘how’ of marketing is so important, and tips on getting digital right

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Tino Ho
© 2020

Andy Lark is a familiar face in the marketing and digital space. From senior roles with big brands including Commbank, Xero and Dell, to leading his own global consultancy, he’s won over 100 awards for work in building brands and creating online capabilities. He’s built one of the most successful SaaS start-ups into a global software powerhouse, he’s launched apps used by millions every day, lead the transformation of Australia's most vibrant financial services brand, and built one of the largest eCommerce sites in the world.

Helping CMOs build modern marketing practices

Spending a lot of time as a key advisor talking to CMOs and working on strategy, Andy sees one of the main areas that more and more marketers are focusing on now is on the work of marketing – the actual orchestration or ‘how do you do’ the marketing.

His focus is on helping them build a modern marketing organisation that reflects contemporary practices that are agile, with capabilities to internally source creative, produce content internally, roll out mass content and scale.

Marketing and sales: bridging the chasm

Marketing today has a real problem with sales people who think they understand marketing because they read about it in a blog. But likewise, most marketers don’t spend enough time trying to understand the sales process and bridge the chasm between the two areas. While they might talk about the funnel and they love presenting the funnel, many marketers rarely take ownership of the funnel.

Andy also thinks demand side marketing is largely killing current marketing because people who use it don't understand branding, communications, messaging and positioning – they're simply looking to produce assets to draw people into the funnel rather than understand what the customer wants.

Talking only about what’s going right will risk getting a ‘seat at the table’

Andy believes marketers are good at talking about what’s going right but fail to talk about what’s going wrong. It’s a problem because it compromises their ability to establish credibility, when as leaders they should be working hard to ‘get a seat at the table’.

The impact of SaaS on marketing

With the explosion of SaaS in recent years, Andy believes marketing strategy and being able to really articulate how you're orchestrating and driving the business comes first. You need a cohesive view about how you're going to influence the business and drive outcomes.

When it comes to using SaaS, Andy has witnessed the costs of an ‘endless river’ of software creep into marketing budgets. He’s concerned that customer lifetime values (LTVs) are getting drained and customer acquisition costs (CACs) are outrageous. It's just no longer feasible to continue to sustain and manage the SaaS software river with the expectation that without a similar investment in creative and ideas and content, the whole thing just goes pear shaped.

How (bad) digital is killing marketing

Digital marketing isn’t working like it’s meant to. The digital supply chain is meant to be hyper efficient, lean and transformative but inefficiency and unnecessary complexity in digital is killing marketing.

Businesses are struggling to reconcile the brand layer spend against the digital spend while marketers have just lowered the bar – thinking that work and activity equals outcomes. For Andy, it doesn't. He believes we need much greater creative and we must be thinking about much better content, to deliver much clearer and more intelligent marketing.

Andy’s tips on getting digital right

To get digital marketing right, an efficient digital stack isn’t enough. Andy believes you need to take a step back and spend time on the ‘how’ of marketing– how you're going to orchestrate marketing. Then you need to spend time with your teams developing the creative and messaging framework to be compelling and differentiated.

How’s your digital game? The Social Revolution creates peer-to-peer social marketing solutions for B2B organisations in the financial services and enterprise software sector, get in touch for a confidential chat.

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