…A simple claim that connects emotionally with the target. And then that claim can be expressed in a phrase, a video, a presentation or a white paper. There has to be depth — it can’t just be a cool phrase and a nice graphic. I need to be able to say it in a tweet or hold a 3-hour executive summit on the topic.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Scott Fitzgerald.
Scott Fitzgerald is the Chief Marketing Officer at Duck Creek Technologies. Scott has a proven track record in B2B software and SaaS marketing and comes to Duck Creek from BlueSnap, a global SaaS payments leader, where he served as senior VP of marketing. Previously, he held a variety of senior marketing, product, and general management positions at ACI Worldwide, a $1B software provider. He also held marketing and sales leadership positions at CA Technology.
Thank you for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
We were working to put a marketing automation system in and were excited to start mass email marketing programs. We had assembled a database of close to 100,000 contacts in IT and decided to hit go to the whole list. We had misconfigured the system, so the email came from my email address. I received about 5,000 out of office responses and another few thousand direct responses. It took me weeks to clear out my email inbox.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I would say it was actually a low point. I was new running marketing and had prepared my 90-day strategy. I felt proud of my analysis. Then, at our executive offsite I was ripped to pieces by the CEO for not having the rest of the company on board. From that day on, I stopped accepting the outcomes from polite meetings; I would rather hard truths — accepting them, facing them, and building a plan. Easy advice to know, but it took a moment like that for me to follow it.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
If you are digging too deep in any one area of marketing, switch it up. Marketing has the fortune of ranging from deeply technical roles around the new digital landscape to product and market strategy to design and brand. We are really lucky as most other jobs don’t have that great of a range. If you are spending too much time in one of the modes of thinking, pause and force yourself to put another hat on for an hour, a day, a week. It will help remind you of the importance of holistic thinking in every decision.
None of us is able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I was running marketing for a fintech software provider and the CEO brought in a CMO — effectively over my head. It was a humbling moment — but Carl (the new CMO) was incredibly gracious, treated my ideas with interest and respect, but also taught me the elements of marketing I didn’t realize I was lacking. He was particularly helpful in teaching me about the true role of a brand — particularly the patience that a CMO needs to have to allow the brand to set in.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Our industry is headed toward a broader decision-making unit at the customer, and therefore, marketing needs to help tell the same story 10 different ways to match the buyer needs. The CIO has always (and continues) to be the main buyer — but now more and more roles are surrounding that decision. The complexity of building messages and stories that are adaptive to such a varied group of buyers will be the main marketing challenge in our industry.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Say it with fewer words: I was part of a rollout of a complex solution structure at a fintech firm. Very few of us could explain it with less than 10 minutes.
- Say it with simpler words: It’s hard to write about complex concepts in 5th-grade language. Those that do it best (Google) are actually showing their sophistication.
- Measure: The temptation in marketing (one I still fight today) is to spend the whole budget on lead-gen programs. Lacking market feedback on what is important, what is resonating, what isn’t can mean that extra program you run is hurting instead of helping.
- The best feedback comes from the people closest to the customer but is careful not to implement them directly. I have found over and over that sales and services, people know what is really going on today better than anyone. But we rarely want to market to TODAY. We are marketing to tomorrow — not the future — but tomorrow. Seeing how today’s feedback plots on a trajectory to tomorrow is where you want to be in your message and how you want to appear to a prospect.
- Plan your year, but don’t marry your plan: I think we all learned this during 2020, but it is always true that the original plan needs changing as you hit the market.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I have become a podcast guy. I like How I Built This and HBR Ideacast, but I also listen to good storytellers like Dan Carlin or Crimetown to hear how to tell a story. I also think there is a lot to learn from comedy podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang or Blank Check as they can show you how to make silly inane things interesting.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
What I admire right now is the pace at which the youth are taking control of our country’s (and the world’s) direction. I am a father and see my own teenagers moving beyond posting to acting; it is more than I recall our generation ever doing. This generation coming up has its issues (like all of us, but geez I can’t stand Fortnite) but they are passionate, intelligent, and savvy in a way that is new. I have a lot of hope for the future because of them.
How can our readers follow you online?
LinkedIn. Drop me a note.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!