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21 min read

Why the future of marketing is cross-functional and customer-obsessed

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This article originates from a panel at the Revenue Marketing Summit in London, 2022. Catch up on this presentation, and others, using our OnDemand service. For more exclusive content, visit your membership dashboard.

In today's highly competitive landscape, successful marketing requires more than just a strong brand and a compelling message. Companies must be customer-obsessed, and have a cross-functional approach that involves all aspects of the organization.

If you missed this panel at our London event, don’t worry! You can catch up right here by reading all the incredible insights from our speakers:

🔷 Chris Hooper, Global Director of Content Marketing and Creative at Veriff

🔷 Keith Povey, Director of Revenue Marketing at Panaseer

Read their thoughts on cross-functional and customer-obsessed marketing, including:

  • Organizational structures and relationships
  • The importance of customer empathy and obsession
  • Why marketing needs to shed its subservient role
  • Shifting mindsets towards revenue alignment and unified customer understanding
  • Strategic marketing and putting the customer at the center

Organizational structures and relationships

Keith Povey: Hello everyone, I’m Keith Povey, I run a team of 10 in a series B cybersecurity startup with ridiculously unrealistic growth goals on a quarterly basis that keeps me awake at night.

Chris Hooper: I'm Chris Hooper, I work for a company called Veriff, which is a global IDV, identity, and verification specialist. We primarily sell to financial services companies.

My role is primarily around content, I look after our global content team. I've worked most recently for a company called GoCardless, in the FinTech space. And then prior to that, I was working at consultancy capacity for very big tech companies, the big cloud providers.

So I've seen both sides of things from that big multi-faceted, organizational way, through to something that's a bit more manageable and growing. So, let’s start with the cross-functional bit first.

Keith Povey: I think it's come up so many times, the words alignment and sales. The nemesis/best friend of all of us. The closet marketers, because it's so easy to be a marketer, right? Because everybody in sales can tell you how to do it. We’ve all felt those pains.

But cross-functional probably needs to go a lot wider than that, particularly if you're not connected to product. Are your messages on point and up to date? If you're not talking to customer success, are your ICP and your persona as accurate as they should be?

If I'm not talking to some of the SEs, for instance, am I really understanding the message around our solution that's actually being communicated in meaningful sales meetings? Does that match what I'm asking my team of development reps to do? And does that match the proof points at the very high end that I'm putting in campaign messaging or an ABM?

I strongly believe marketing is the hub to all those spokes. Because we speak to customers, to prospects, we should be speaking to everybody inside our business. And we're the amalgamation of all those different points of view.

And that's why we're normally very empathetic people because we have to listen to all those points of view and then convert them into something that we then deliver to a prospect. So I think it has to be cross-functional.

Chris Hooper: I totally agree. How you manage that relationship between marketing and sales shows that there's a dysfunction to a certain extent, because they are essentially two sides of the same coin, and they should be the same thing.

From an organizational design perspective, we've certainly had that in my previous role at GoCardless, we essentially scrapped the marketing team and created something called the growth team, which was an amalgamation of marketing and sales. Lots of mini-alignments around customer groupings were what we were basing things on.

It was an exciting approach I've never done it before and it's something I've taken across to my role here because I feel like having the SDRs for example, is the first front line of sales who were doing those initial outreach calls.

Having them reporting into what was marketing is just in itself a huge leap because you've all of a sudden got access to a new sales channel at the very beginning of the sales process, which is something that was lacking before.

So I think the way that you structure the organization is really, really important, and I fully appreciate that, but not everybody is going to be in the same situation. If you’re a huge behemoth of an organization, changing that is a conversation that's gonna take years.

But the luxury that we have as organizations of our size is that we can put a stamp on it and say: “This is the way it should be structured.” And then you can picture it as you grow as an organization.

Keith Povey: Yeah, definitely. And I think that's why some of us that ended up working in startups keep going back to startups because we see the value in shaping it.

And you've probably gone through some pretty horrific pain. But then you've learned a lesson, even though every organization is unique, you've learned a lesson to come back through and do it a little bit better each time.

People think startups grow steadily over time, but it’s actually more sporadic. They reach points where they go: “Okay, now we need to change”, and then there are huge amounts of radical change, and then there's a settling period, and then there's another.

I've made mistakes about being cross-functional, or what my relationship with sales might be, and stuff like that. And I don't want to go through that again.

Chris Hooper: Yeah. So as I said not everyone is going to be in that fortunate situation where you can mold the organization and make it look like what you want it to look like and have that best practice.

But I think even then there are some small steps that you can take to move in this direction. It’s also the luck factor. If you suddenly just hit upon something that works, which is completely out of the blue.

You can engineer that a little bit by experimenting, and just trying something and taking a very small team, focusing it on something, and maybe making that your little cross-functional pilot, where you have:

This post was a collaboration between

Chris Hooper, Keith Povey

  • Chris Hooper

    Chris Hooper

    Chris Hooper is the Global Director of Content Marketing and Creative at Veriff.

    More posts by Chris Hooper.

    Chris Hooper
  • Keith Povey

    Keith Povey

    Keith Povey is the Director of Revenue Marketing at Panaseer.

    More posts by Keith Povey.

    Keith Povey
Why the future of marketing is cross-functional and customer-obsessed