David Howland, CMO of Longview Solutions has a fantastic marketing pedigree, as a former creative and art director and then marketing leader at Nasdaq. In this Backstage Q&A he shares his journey and the common thread of his career – creating compelling, meaningful experiences.
Rockstar’s say that overnight success takes years of work and practice, what got you in the charts?
Where’s the back door? When you start your career as a cabinet maker in Seattle with nothing but an art history degree, the CMO title isn’t top of mind. A few creative gigs and soon I had some great opportunities in the arts, education and FinTech leading teams of writers, creatives, marketers, programmers, etc. The common thread throughout was experience, it was always about creating compelling, meaningful experiences with lasting impact.
What or who are your marketing influencers?
None, at least not in the traditional sense. I’m inspired by challenges, a strong mission and the people I get to interact and collaborate with along the way. There are too many times each day I see or experience something that prompts a “wow, that sh** is fantastic!” and want to “borrow” it.
What advice would you give your younger self as you took the stage of your first marketing gig?
Never let your title or position define you. This is the advice given to me by Nasdaq’s current CEO, Adena Friedman, many years ago and has been a mantra of sorts ever since. Your current title and role provide a framework for where you are at the moment and don’t define who you are as a person or as a professional. We are not one-dimensional; our aspirations and contributions should reflect the many talents and energy we possess.
As marketing leaders, we depend on a great backing band of agencies and vendors, how do you create harmony?
I view agencies and vendors as extensions beyond my own and my teams’ capabilities and bandwidth. They are the experts, otherwise you aren’t hiring the right resources. Telling them “what” to do is counterproductive at best while focusing on “what” we need to accomplish and “why” this is important” lead to more productive engagements. Open communication, transparency and clearly defined goals are the foundations of achieving and maintaining a harmonious working relationship.
What keeps the house jumping?
A shared sense of purpose, a mission we can collectively get behind and the vision to make it all happen. Winning is great, but I want to work with people who are determined to crush the competition knowing it isn’t going to go our way each and every day…but it will tomorrow because we’re going to make it happen.
You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?
The reality is that MQL’s, impressions, uniques, and open rates are important but no longer make the cut. I’m hyper-focused on Marketing-source Pipeline and Closed-Won Deals, and in working backwards to identify where a potential opportunity jumped the tracks and ultimately how effective our individual marketing tactics are in growing revenue. Drive attributable revenue and believe me, the audience will hear the tune. Show some beautiful dashboards? Not going to cut it without the attribution.
If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your Number 1?
No question: intent-based marketing. I’m a data-centric kind of guy and I don’t gamble, with either my own money or the precious budgets we wrestle from Finance. While I still believe a multi-channel approach leveraging diverse tools and tactics is necessary for a successful marketing program, reducing “spray and pray” in favor of getting your brand and message in front of unknown prospects demonstrating interest in exactly what you offer? Brilliant!
What would you throw from your hotel window into the Rockstar CMO pool?
That Marketing has never led to a single closed-won deal? Or that often repeated critique of marketing and brand awareness as ineffective and soft? No, I’ll hold those close as constant reminders of the hill we need to climb each and every day. Instead, I’ll throw personalization into the hotel pool, and not because I don’t believe in it. Rather, I believe it’s incredibly important to align content and experience with persona, we just see personalization being misused in a manner that over-complicates execution and brings a bit of cringe-worthy creepiness into what could have been a valued interaction.
What’s got you rocking today?
We may no longer have offices fitted with bars and cigar humidors…or even offices for that matter…but Marketing is on the rise! With more than 5500 MarTech solutions out there – and growing – we can target, measure and demonstrate effective and cost-efficient impact through our efforts, and the message is taking hold. As I continue to speak with executives across so many industries, Marketing’s critical strategic and operational role has evolved from specious to imperative. Build it and they will come just doesn’t work, Marketing supporting a compelling product will fill the seats every time.
If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?
I’m going to send props to a young company who I believe is doing it right in helping to change how we engage with each other, and not just because I happen to be wearing their t-shirt right now! David Cancel and his group over at Drift have built a great product and positioned their offering and company for rapid scale in market penetration and user growth. They get my vote because they’ve extended “marketing” beyond “marketing” to include the culture, swagger and joy in working with them. Old school? Brand statement, logo, fact/solution sheet, etc. Please, Marketing can and should touch all aspects of an organization, from effective GTM strategic execution to collaborating with HR to make sure where and how we spend most of our waking hours is a great experience.
Any final words before you drop the mic?
This was fun…what’s next?