CMOs: Don’t Lead a Cost Center, Be a Revenue Driver


This post was originally published on adweek.com . Shared with permission.

Gartner’s prediction that CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology is now a fact: CMOs will use 12% of their company’s revenue on marketing technologies in 2018.

It makes sense: Just as a consumer would look to Yelp before going to a restaurant, prospects today do research before talking to sales, meaning the marketing department owns more of the sales funnel than ever. Silicon Valley has jumped on this opportunity — over 5,000 companies are clamoring to help marketers meet this growing responsibility.

Armed with growing budgets and new technologies, you’d think CMOs would have lasting influence in the boardroom. But research suggests otherwise: CMO tenures now average only 42 months , and that number declines every year. Another study revealed that 2016 was a year of record turnover rates for marketing executives. It’s time for CMOs to either figure out why they’re not delivering the ROI that CEOs want or not bother to set up their office.

As the CEO of a martech company for the past 15 years, I’ve seen the role of marketing teams completely transform. I remember when I thought about our marketing spend much like I did about playing roulette — throwing money on the table hoping it would pay of. I assumed that like gambling our marketing budget was simply the cost of playing the game.

Digital technologies changed that and it changed the role of CMOs. But CMOs haven’t adapted quite yet. They now need to act like the CEO of their own business – the marketing team. And that ultimately means CMOs must redefine success in the same way a CEO does, with an unrelenting focus on revenue. This revenue-or-die mindset isn’t easy to adapt, but here are three ways for CMOs to start thinking like a CEO and keep their eyes on the bottom line.

Say no.

One of the toughest choices we have to make everyday is the decision to not to do something. It’s easier to latch onto a fad than to stand against it. But the rationale for a campaign or new technology can’t be for the sake of trying something out. Numbers speak louder than words, and CMOs who have hard data to back up their strategy, approach, and results give themselves leverage in the C-Suite and make any campaign, whether it fails or succeeds, defensible.

My CMO has a quarterly revenue target to meet, and every dollar spent needs to have an equal return. Digital technologies have empowered us to analyze the entire performance of our marketing channels and use that intelligence to determine our future investments.

Social campaigns are great for awareness, for example, but for our business, they don’t drive revenue. This realization led us to scale back our investments in Facebook and Twitter. We used those resources to double down on our own website, webinars, and in-person events because our data showed these channels yielded the best results. We certainly feel some fear of missing out, but once you know what drives revenue, other channels become moot.

Prioritize relationships.

Even in the digital age, I still believe a one-on-one, in-person conversation is the best way to close a deal and build a relationship with a customer.

As far as technology has come, no automation software, algorithm or predictive analytics has the power of empathy. Consider H&R Block’s partnership announcement with IBM Watson . H&R Block could have heralded Watson as the end to human tax professionals, letting the computers do all the work faster. But who wants to just deal with a computer?

To their credit, IBM positioned Watson as a tool to further elevate services H&R reps already provide to customers. It was not about replacement, but letting computers and humans do what they do best, together. Marketers need to take a similar mindset, where you’re not having data dominate your approach, but using it in a manner that supplements your human understanding of your customer and their pain points.

There’s tremendous value in freeing up marketers’ time by using automated programs to tackle more tedious activities. This empowers marketers to build key personal relationships, learn from customers, and think critically about their biggest challenges. Marketers will maintain their relevance long into the future, but it won’t be solely because of data — it’ll be by understanding customers on a human level, while using data to enhance this understanding.

Be accountable.

In order to enhance this understanding, data cannot just be superficial The actual strength of the interactions you are measuring must go beyond clicks, views and downloads, and examine length of time spent on a piece of content, the strength of their intent, and level of interaction that your marketing tactics achieve.

A single click only provides a mere glimpse into customer interests, and gives little background on what motivated that click. Marketers must focus on the data points that are rich with insight about a customer’s behavior, intentions, and potential actions. You should ask yourself: for my business, what are the behavioral indicators that have driven past behavior? What’s my prospect’s digital body language telling me about the best way to engage with them? How do I  get them further down the funnel?

In today’s age, where everything is measured, CMOs should constantly look to drive revenue in order to show the value of their efforts to CEOs. If every marketing initiative and campaign is tied to revenue, the only CMOs who will be leaving their jobs will be the ones becoming CEOs themselves.

The post CMOs: Don’t Lead a Cost Center, Be a Revenue Driver appeared first on ON24 .

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Michael Smolens to Give Keynote at iEARN July 17


Keynote Address to iEARN Annual Conference, Marrakesh Morocco – July 17, 2017


iEARN has 50,000 teachers in 140 countries – with over 1,000 languages and dialects spoken amongst all its countries.

Nelson Mandela said, “When you speak to a man in a language he understands, you speak to his head.  When you speak to him in his native language, you speak to his heart.”

There is an explosion in the creation of all types of knowledge for all purposes – education, training, spirituality, entertainment, religion, marketing, corporate communications, news, etc., a very high percentage of which is in English, or just a few other major languages – most of it is not available in the native languages of over 6 billion people.

There is, at the same time, an exponential increase in the amount of this knowledge being made available in video, which is becoming the dominant way to communicate, tell stories and inspire.

Dotsub, my 9th startup 10 years ago, has a mission to enable all knowledge, of any type, in video format, to be available to all 7.3 billion people in the world in their native language, in all formats necessary including all digital devices including smartphones AND feature phones.

This talk will give three examples of global programs in which Dotsub is involved, which iEARN teachers and students, if they wish, can participate in to help expand global knowledge in music, mathematics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their native languages. They will be learning new ideas and participating in a global movement, which can in its own way, help increase cross cultural communication and understanding, and a little bit at a time – change the world for the better with the global spread of knowledge.


  1. Dotsub was asked to partner with a company in the music industry them to do a pilot with the lyrics of 50,000 songs, from primarily English, into a minimum of 15 languages, all done by a global network of volunteer translators – on Dotsub’s platform managed by Dotsub.  This pilot will involve over 2,000,000 Audio Language Minutes (ALMs) which will require about 250 man years to complete by volunteers.

Nothing of this magnitude has ever before been done, as until now, almost all of the billions of lyrics and lyric translations available on the web are illegal, with no rights obtained and no revenue being generated for the music publishers, songwriters or artists.

Since music and songs are a basic global method of storytelling, sharing emotions, and building deep connections between fans of the same artist/song and hundreds of millions of people in all countries of the world sing songs in English, but DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WORDS MEAN.  We have already begun to create a network in India who will be finally, after years of singing lyrics they do not understand with music they love, be able to understand what they are singing.

This is an opportunity for iEARN, to create a program that works for the teachers, to allow those students in any country, speaking any language, to become very early participants in this program.  How the students will be recognized, rewarded, involved is totally up to iEARN, as I have obtained early approval of this exciting project for all its students.


  1. Global Math Week – 10/10/17https://www.theglobalmathproject.org/ – join one million students, teachers, math leaders and adults from around the globe in an astounding mathematical experience. “See mathematics like you’ve never seen it before.”

We are working with James Tanton, founder of the Global Math Project, to enable the entire iEARN community, again if it wishes, on its own terms, to integrate the years of work and thinking of The Global Math Project into individual school/teacher curriculums, while at the same time creating the opportunity to do something on a much bigger global scale with iEARN to become a partner – https://www.theglobalmathproject.org/partners

The Project is focused on the base 10 system of current mathematics – as most   arithmetic and mathematics works on the base 10 system of numbers.  That is why the Global Math Week is on October 10th – the calendar date 10/10/17. Again, this is a totally global opportunity to have iEARN teachers, on their own or in groups, work with a cutting edge global effort, across languages and cultures, to help make math learning fun and collaborative. Teachers or country leaders can become ambassadors – all is possible.

Since Global Math Week is less than 3 months from the iEARN Annual Meeting, time is of the essence to get started with this project for this year, but it will be an annual event.


  1. SDGs Without Borders – creating a comprehensive global language platform to enable all media, studies, comments, news, or anything else, about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be translated into all the world’s languages using Dotsub platform and volunteer translators. iEARN has been actively involved in studying and including into parts of local curriculums and classes – all determined either at the country or teacher level – with different classes, thoughts, etc.

Dotsub has registered the URL – https://www.SDGsWithoutBorders.com – and is in the very early stages of lining up partners, media companies, NGOs, senior management, funding, etc. to enable the exploding amount of knowledge, comments, media, videos, TV/radio/etc created in any language to be able to be consumed in hopefully hundreds of languages. This will enable all 7.3 billion people in the world, who in total speak 6,800 languages – 85% of which are oral only, to understand what is said and written about each of the SDGs.  The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon created the 17 SDGs starting Jan 1, 2016 –  Dec 31, 2030, following the 15-year program created by the previous UN leader Kofi Annan called MDGs, Millennium Development Goals.

Since iEARN has already embraced the SDGs as a part of their global curriculum, and iEARN countries speak over 1,000 languages and dialects,  active involvement in the program to help SDG related knowledge be available  for all 7.3B people could be a major, long term program for iEARN to embrace,  again in any way it feels, fits into its existing and future agenda.

The above summarizes my thinking into making available to all iEARN teachers and students 3 different global programs – in music/songs, Math, and the SDGs, which will involve cutting edge technology, language, translation, volunteering, learning and huge potential global impact.  That is why I have titled my talk YES – IT’S POSSIBLE.

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Cardiff City Football Club Partners with Dotsub


Bluebirds partner with Dotsub to benefit local and global fanbase.

Cardiff – 16 April 2018


As part of the Club’s award-winning fan engagement and international development programmes, Cardiff City FC has partnered with the video captioning platform, Dotsub.

In addition to social media engagement and accessibility benefits, the Club uses subtitles to localise video content in Mandarin for the emerging Chinese football market and UK-based Mandarin-speaking supporters.


Cardiff City FC Executive Director & CEO, Ken Choo, says of the partnership with Dotsub: “Adapting and catering to our fans’ needs will always be at the heart of what we do at Cardiff City, “Not only does our partnership with Dotsub allow us multi-lingual communication with our supporters, but it also improves the accessibility of our video content for the deaf and hard of hearing.

“This is another fine example of our ever-developing fan engagement and international development strategies here at Cardiff City FC.”


Ben Dobson, Dotsub’s Head of Sports Partnerships, said: “The ways in which football fans, particularly millennials, engage with their team is increasingly driven by video across social media.

“The majority of these fans will consume video content on-the-go, with the volume muted, on their mobile device. So, by adding subtitles, the club have taken a timely step to boost their global fan engagement.

“Everyone at Dotsub is delighted to partner with Cardiff City FC. We’re fortunate to count the likes of the NFL and NHL amongst our clients so it’s great to see Cardiff City join this elite group of sporting brands and entities that are leading the way with their fan engagement.”

Editorial notes:

  • Cardiff City FC has recently been nominated for Best Matchday Experience at the 2018 Sport Business Awards in London. This is the club’s second consecutive SBA nomination and comes on the back of another three national and European fan engagement or matchday experience awards in the past two years.
  • Founded in New York, Dotsub is a video captioning platform that allows subtitles to published in any language to boost video engagement and improve accessibility. For more information, visit dotsub.com

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