ROI of Everything: The Playbook of a 4-time Tech CMO

This episode features an interview with Grant Johnson, CMO of Emburse. Grant is a four-time tech CMO with 20+ years of success in scaling marketing operations and building profitable global businesses. He was brought in last year to lead the group of six travel and expense management software vendors that came together as Emburse to challenge the industry incumbent. 

On this episode, Grant discusses his holistic view of marketing, encompassing the four key levers and how they work together in an integrated marketing framework, as well as why the best strategies are customer-focused, how to be adaptable in applying your playbook, and much more. 

Tune in to the episode to hear Grant reveal his demand gen strategies, including:

Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments:

Episode Highlights

(2:00) Grant’s Career Path

(5:48) What Grant’s Demand Gen Strategy Looks Like

(9:33) Emburse’s Go-to-market Approach

(15:15) Managing a Portfolio of Brands

(20:59) Grant’s Uncuttable Budget Items

(26:13) His Take on Events

(32:05) Healthy Tension

(35:17) Trends He’s Excited About

(35:58) Biggest Recent Learning Experience

(39:31) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Grant

(40:33) Advice to a New CMO

“My philosophy is the ROI of everything. If you can't project what a return is, I'm not spending that dollar…Pre-COVID, I cut between a half million and a million dollars out of events because they were harder to measure and they didn't prove to deliver the ROI. When COVID hit and I put the brakes on in-person events, it took me about five seconds to redeploy those dollars into digital channels.”
“I tend to look at marketing very holistically. I don't think I can talk about demand gen without talking about what I consider the four primary levers, all working together to help demand gen work optimally. The levers are brand, communications, product marketing, and demand gen, and they really should ideally be part of an integrated marketing framework…those are the levers that really drive a company's positioning, opportunity, and ultimately its success.”
“For me, the best practices and strategies start with a customer focus…As a head of marketing, that's where I've had the most success. What I consider the foundational work is if we understand the pain points, the buyer personas, and we align our content and our communications to the buyer's journey, we're more likely to engage successfully, create opportunities, nurture and progress those opportunities, and win that business.”
“We have a high level of complexity because of our tailored solutions; my team is not creating holistic demand, we're creating specific demand…so we really have to understand a day in their life, what their watering holes are, what they're going to respond to…Is the value proposition resonating? Is the messaging resonating? By taking that very customer-centric, persona-specific approach, we’ve found that our demand gen tactics have worked better.”

Ready to hear from more Demand Gen Visionaries? You can subscribe and find all episodes here.

Posted on
January 21, 2021
Corinne Pearce

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