Background Image

Q&A with CMO-In-Residence Luanne Tierney

Erin McCabe

Hotwire has over 20 years of igniting possibilities for tech businesses. Hear our expert views and insights from our team on the latest developments in the industry.

The Hotwire CMO-In-Residence (CIR) program brings in experienced CMOs to Hotwire to partner with our clients and staff. Clients benefit by having access to senior CMOs who can advise on strategy and complex marketing issues, while staff benefit by working closely with CMOs who educate them on marketing topics and services. 

This month, Hotwire sat down with incoming CIR, Luanne Tierney, to discuss her history working with brands of all sizes during times of challenge and opportunity.  Tierney is a modern marketing and channel technology sales executive with over 25 years of experience in the industry. She recently left her SVP of Marketing position to invest more time in strengthening her modern marketing background, learn new technologies and get closer to the customer, aligning herself to where the industry is going and staying ahead of the curve.  Tierney is an industry speaker, board member, marketing consultant and investor. Not your traditional CMO and a great asset to the program. 

What was your path to becoming a CMO?

I have been lucky to have  Silicon Valley in my backyard.  I always gravitated toward marketing because it was so dynamic. My early experience was with 3Com and HP and following that, 14 years at Cisco – my last role there as VP of Global Partner Marketing.

My partner leadership role at Cisco allowed me to be close to both the customer and the selling motion. Early on, I saw the inception of social media efforts coming to the B to B world and immediately created a program called Velocity. This program taught our Cisco partner community how to embrace some of the new social media and video tools and other vehicles that affordably drove demand for their business. I also realized the strategic importance of the Cisco partner community as a valuable extension of the sales team as well as an asset  to the marketing organization to amplify our messages.

After Cisco, I was recruited by Juniper to build their global partner marketing organization from the ground up. I honed my skills (and learned a few new ones) building upon everything I had learned thus far- from orchestrating a global partner conference to building incentive programs. I chose to focus on the hot Cybersecurity arena next, heading up the corporate marketing teams for Fortinet and after that, Proofpoint.  I am now managing member at Fivesky, a next gen IT consulting  company.  We partner with disruptive technology companies and architect network solutions for companies globally in order to securely operate and grow their business. I am also on the board at KNOCK inc, Content MX, consult on marketing and a regularly speak on topics relating to marketing and social selling and Strategies for Success for the next generation of leaders at universities and companies.

How have you seen the CMO landscape change over the last few years?

Marketing has changed dramatically with all the rapid shifts in technology. It no longer categorized as BtoC or BtoB but now BtoH (Human). The landscape has changed in that consumer expectations have now become expectations that the business world must respond to. For example, when  customers login to a site they frequently expect to be recognized. Every CMO is in the digital transformation business and it’s about delivering a great customer experience and anticipating their customers needs.

One thing that has stayed constant is that marketing budgets are always fluid! Large brands today can no longer rely on the big budgets and media spend of the past. Gone are the days when it was only about the super bowl commercials (although I really enjoy those commercials). There are competing dollars for digital media, social, events, PR, CRM tools and more – a CMO must discern how to allocate their dollars to get maximum impact.

Marketing Officers’ today must have a full engagement stack strategy: public relations, social programs, video, field and sales activities as well as the right measurement tools in place. In some ways marketing success has gotten more challenging to measure. We now have digital data that can define most everything but deciding the right measurement that defines success for your business is often tricky. With so much data it is vitally important to avoid analysis paralysis.

Millennials currently constitute 25% of the buying power and are either in influencer roles or working their way into more powerful decision making roles. However, decision makers are getting younger and so businesses need to appeal to new audiences. Social, digital, and video are becoming the platform of choice to gain their information to these audiences so they are going to continue to grow and become more important. Companies need to outthink vs. outspend. We have seen smaller companies launch via video (think Dollar Shave Club) and the capability of things to go viral and resonate is a huge opportunity for the brand.

As a modern marketer, we are living in the “attention economy”. According to Fortune attention has become the most valuable currency in the world. The need to get someone’s attention with content that is authentic and resonates emotionally is has become the major currency to the CMO.

What are your thoughts on measurement as it relates to Marketing?

There is no one silver bullet to measurement. We have the tools now to measure in all kinds of different ways. We can slice and dice it but it all maps back to your marketing strategy. There isn’t one solution, or measurement tool (there are so many great CRM and analytical tools depending on the size of your organization) so it is about thoughtfully putting a marketing awareness and engagement strategy for your market, reaching your target audience and measuring how successful you are doing that. People are empowered with knowledge before they buy and companies should to be able to measure all the touches.

Build the content strategy, execute, collect the feedback (good or bad), evaluate the results, rework the strategy,  and try it again.  What I have found, the marketing measurement results need not only be shared regularly with the executive team but with the sales organization as well. It’s really important for marketing to be connected and transparent with the sales team to get their buy in and feedback.

As companies are putting together their 2017/2018 strategic plans, what are the top marketing initiatives you feel are needed?

Content is more important than ever! As I mentioned earlier, we are living in an attention economy.  You need to have a clear value proposition and a key differentiator that resonates to your audience. Your customers should feel like the brand is providing a real value exchange, not just selling them products. Here are my 7 strategies for 2017.

Personalize everything

Hire people that have great writing skills

Better video content, keep it coming

Social Media Strategy

Think about how to embrace IOT for future positioning

Look at how you could use Chatbots and AI in your marketing efforts

Get your sales team to embrace social media to amplify your brand

Recently we launched this year’s report on trends (Hotwire Trends 2017) the first one being “insights.” What is your take on leveraging insights as a CMO?

SO IMPORTANT! As a CMO you must constantly be educating yourself, learning from your peers or industries, and consuming info. I go to conferences, read articles and newsletters like this one and I am a huge podcast listener. One thing that I have done that has worked well for me is that I created a Mastermind Group which meets every quarter.  The group consists of various skills – head of talent, head of sales, operations, blogger, entrepreneur, and an industry thought leader. The beauty of the group is that everyone has different backgrounds and contributes differently with the goal of  bouncing ideas or getting their perspectives on a problem. Bottom line is that you must find time in your schedule to be constantly learning, or you will get left behind.

SNEAK PEAK: Next month, hear from Tierney tips on how to best leverage video.