IFS develops and delivers enterprise software for customers around the world and when their CMO, Oliver Pilgerstorfer, sat down with us and started an answer with “I probably shouldn’t admit this” our editor Ian Truscott knew he was in for a fun interview…

Hello Oliver!

What would be top of your rider for your next marketing gig?

A strong peer group of senior leaders who share a similar, ambitious vision of where to take the company. Everything else should fall out of that: the backers of the company will commit, the right type of employees will stay and engage, new talent will be attracted and the marketing challenge can be well defined and aligned to deliver value. 

What or who are your marketing influencers?

I probably shouldn’t admit it, but at school I sold cigarettes, and although I didn’t know them as Kotler’s 4Ps, the lessons of getting an effective marketing mix was stark.

Get the wrong Product and no one buys (“no way am I buying those…my gran smokes Silk Cut! I only buy B&H”); get the wrong Place and it was detention; get the wrong Price and your stuck with stock; and the power of word-of-mouth can never be underrated when it comes to Promotion.

The fact that these were business fundamentals, not marketing nice-to-haves, will always stay with me.

If I was Spotify, what would I play for you first thing Monday morning to get you going?

Guns ’n’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine

The curtain pulls back, you step out on the stage of your new marketing gig – what do you open with?

It really depends on the opportunity facing the company as that will materially affect the role that marketing should play in order to have impact…but the fundamentals remain the same.

People want to know what to expect in the short term, what their future will look like, and why you’re the person to lead them. Ideally, I’d want to have had the opportunity to get under the skin of the business before walking out on stage, in order to be qualified to articulate what good looks like and where we’re headed. From there I’d explain the process of how we’ll collectively map how to get there.

The audience is dancing in the aisles, it loves that track. What keeps the house jumping?

To dance you need a rhythm. Similarly, to affect change (be it in marketing or elsewhere) you need to have a rhythm of communication.

Whilst it’s imperative to set a direction, the key to build momentum is a cadence of communication that people can rely on as you’re collectively on the journey. Regardless of whether the news is good, bad or ugly (or even if there’s no change), people need to know where they are on the journey and how they can make a difference – I’m a huge believer in keeping the comms regular and open.

You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?

Simply connect what you’re doing to the metrics that the business gets judged on – not for a pat on the back, but to ensure that activities which are delivering the most value get fuelled, and those that aren’t get stopped or changed.

As marketers we have a duty of care to know how the money we spend is building demand, how effective we are retaining customers and the difference we’re making to the brand. Putting globally consistent metrics in place, specifically to understand the effectiveness of lead gen and lead-to-revenue conversion, was a priority for me when I was appointed as CMO. It’s the truth from which my team operates from (especially as bonuses are connected to it)!

If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your Number 1?

Personalisation – yes, the hype has led some marketeers to go so far that they’ve lost perspective on the ‘investment : return’ envelope.

But, it’s my number one as it combines the fundamentals of good marketing: create and communicate a meaningful proposition, then deliver it at the right time to inspire action.

What would you throw from your hotel window into the Rockstar CMO pool?

My iPhone…. but not before I hit ‘record’ for a slow-mo video. It could be good content if the phone survives.

What’s got you rocking today?

We just announced our 2019 financials, and the team absolutely smashed it: double-digit growth in every market, in every business unit, in every quarter of the year. The contribution from the marketing team in achieving these results has been stellar and the momentum carries into 2020.

But there’s so much we haven’t done and so many areas we can improve (shameless plug: check out the careers section of IFS.com as we have marketing vacancies)!

If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?

Hank Barnes. He’s an analyst at Gartner, and amazingly knowledgeable about effective positioning.

Any final words before you drop the mic?

Never lose sight of what matters to your customers.


As CMO, Oliver is responsible for IFS’s global marketing and communications activities. With his team, he is on a mission to increase the company’s visibility, as well as attract and retain a loyal IFS following.

Oliver’s experience spans founding and growing start-ups, through to leadership roles at several global technology companies; he also holds an MBA from London Business School. Outside of work he enjoys spending his time with his wife, two children and nutcase of a dog.

You can catch up with Oliver is on Twitter and LinkedIn

Share this article
You might also like