CMO as Business Strategist Your company (and career) needs a more strategic approach

Clay Stobaugh – EVP and CMO of John Wiley & Sons

Clay Stobaugh, EVP and CMO, John Wiley & Sons, with Bob Domenz, CEO, Avenue

The B2B marketing function, once largely seen as simply marcom support for the sales force, is claiming a critical strategic role in more and more companies. Clay Stobaugh, CMO of John Wiley & Sons, was interviewed about this in The B2B CMO, a column that B2B Brand Council Executive Director Bob Domenz writes for Branding Magazine. As that article did not provide the opportunity to include all of Clay’s comments, we felt it important to share them here.

Bob Domenz: In interviewing Sheryl Pattek of Forrester about the melding of brand and business strategy, she spoke of your central role in strategic shift of John Wiley & Sons from a “traditional book publisher to global provider of digital content and content-enabled solutions” (to quote your LinkedIn profile). She says “the only way they could come out the other end of that transformation is by having the CMO actively involved in the [business] strategy.” Why do you think your role was key?

Clay Stobaugh: Consider the context: Wiley is a 209-year-old business; as we accelerated the shift away from being a traditional publisher to being a digitally focused learning company, it was imperative that we had systems and processes in place to support the transformation. One of the ways in which we were able to do this was to create a global center of excellence named the Marketing Revenue Center (MRC).

The creation of the MRC helped Wiley to establish the best practices that drive revenue while also using best of breed marketing technologies to support these activities and our customers through this change. So the role of the marketer – and my role as CMO – has changed dramatically. This move towards digital has created an era of performance marketing, one that allows us to define, measure, analyze, improve and control our activities. It is a method that allows us to identify metrics, to measure and then to modify so as to improve our success. The MRC utilizes performance marketing in everything that we do, an approach that provides real value to the business.

Bob:There is a lot of discussion around CMOs needing to be the voice of the customer, to help create customer-centric organizations. Is that part of how you see your role?

Clay: Very much so. At Wiley we follow what we call our Customer Engagement Framework.

We created the framework as an eight step process that tracks the life-cycle of the customer; from segmentation and personas through to conversion and analysis. The work we are doing on personas for example, really allows us to understand the needs of our customers and gives us the opportunity to provide a service that exceeds their expectation.

“The performance-driven CMO is marketer, technologist, analyst and revenue producer.”

Bob: CMOs don’t always get a seat at the business strategy table—how did you earn yours?

Clay: Performance-driven CMOs have always had a seat at the strategy table, and now with modern marketing technologies, we are able to make even greater contributions.

The performance-driven CMO is marketer, technologist, analyst and revenue producer. With an eye always on the customer, we are able to provide insights that were impossible a decade ago and create real opportunities for revenue growth. And this ability to deliver measurable revenue is what has fundamentally changed marketing from a cost center to a real revenue partner who delivers value to the business.

Bob: What advice would you give to other CMOs looking to play a more central role in their organization’s fundamental business strategy, both in terms of what skills they should be prepared to bring to the table and what activities they should focus on?

Clay: At a strategic level, I always talk about mindset, skill set and toolset.

The mindset is that of a modern marketer, someone who is data driven and able to measure ROI. And this is not solely a marketing function. When you think about the needs of your customers, whether you are in sales or customer service, you need to have the data and measurements to support the work you are doing. If you can’t measure it, how do you know if you were successful and how can you plan your next move?

The skill sets then support the mindset. At Wiley we have an award winning digital certification program for our colleagues. This training program ensures that colleagues are up-to-date with industry best practices in their disciplines and are providing the highest level of service to our customers.

Finally, there are the toolsets, Wiley partners with best of breed solution providers like Adobe, BrightEdge, Oracle and Salesforce whose toolsets ensure that we are performing at our best.

For more good thinking on how CMOs can play an important strategic role in B2B organizations, read the article “Next-Gen B2B CMOs,” featuring Kim Metcalf-Kupres, CMO of Johnson Controls.

About Clay Stobaugh: Clay is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at John Wiley & Sons. He leads the corporate positioning, government affairs, branding, public relations, marketing strategy, social media, digital analytics, and customer relationship management.

About Bob Domenz: Bob is CEO of Avenue, the B2B marketing strategy and activation firm. He is also the Founder and Executive Director of the B2B Brand Council.