In this series of articles we go backstage with a marketing rockstar. We sit at their feet while they share with us what made them rockstars, what excites them and what we might learn on our journey to marketing rockstardom.
Over a career spanning two decades, Ian Truscott has launched various B2B software products, been a developer, a chief technology officer, an industry analyst, a product marketer and a strategic advisor to blue chip companies inc. Nasdaq and American Express. Currently Ian is the global head of marketing at censhare, he’s also Rockstar CMO’s founder.
We caught up with Ian to talk about his influences, exploding the value of marketing to a business, and rocket ships.
What would be top of your rider for your next marketing gig?
As my career has been defined by B2B software marketing, I would put at the top of my rider a product that people believe in. It doesn’t have to be the best product on the market; the best engineering rarely wins. It doesn’t have to be the best-known solution – after all that would be my job. What brings me joy is a product that the business and a tribe of clients, however small, believe and trust in. Priceless latent value that marketing can build on.
Second, I am a sucker for a leader that wants to take on the world, has a clear vision of making the people in the business successful, and the desire to create a rocket ship that we will all ride and be proud of. It’s way more fun trying to build a rocket ship, making wins along the way, challenging the big guys (and OK, maybe failing occasionally) than the alternative.
And third, a budget, of course, would be good!
What or who are your marketing influencers?
In 2003 I worked with a guy called Nick Bolton who is probably the first person that got the marketing synapses firing. Prior to that I was defined as a techie and his passion, drive and, I guess you could say swagger, showed me that I could take that lead.
I then got hooked on reading about and developing this craft, and in this period Seth Godin, to quote Depeche Mode, became my personal Jesus.
Later, I spent time with Robert Rose. He generously shared his influencers, broadened my marketing education and now I cite some of the same influences as him – folks like Peter Drucker, Theodore Levitt, Youngme Moon, and of course Robert himself.
If I was Spotify, what would I play for you first thing Monday morning to get you going?
I really want to say ‘Bodak Yellow’ by Cardi B. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a profanity-laden rant of a stripper turned rapper. In it she says, “I don’t dance now, I make money moves” and for some reason this has stuck in my head. I love this as an analogy of modern marketing, we have to be hooked into what’s important in the business. To quote Peter Drucker (and I doubt anyone has ever made the connection between Cardi B and Drucker): “The purpose of a business is to create a customer”. As marketers, we need to stop dancing and make money moves.
If my mum, wife or kids are listening, I’d go for a tune that was used in a commercial in the UK – ‘Be Bold’ by Tam Cooper. Aside from the title, it also has a motivating line: “People say that I'm too loud / But they ain’t no controlling him” – that gets me going and as marketers being bold has to be our Monday morning mantra.
The curtain pulls back, you step out on the stage of your new marketing gig – what do you open with?
You can rush into a new gig, jump into the hamster wheel and start running and yes, the first 90 days can dictate the next few years of your career, so you need to deliver. But, at the same time the moment the curtain pulls back is unique in this gig. I have experience as a consultant and the value of an outside-in perspective, and you’re only going to have this clarity very early in your tenure – before you get pulled into the fabric of the business – so use this time wisely to take a slightly impassionate perspective of what you have and what you need.
The audience is dancing in the aisles, it loves that track. What keeps the house jumping?
The secret to keeping the house jumping is to sync your tune with the beat of the business. It’s easy for marketing to get distracted by vanity metrics, like web hits and such, but the reward is in making a difference and contributing the objectives of the business. I don’t mean sycophantic pandering to the boss, I mean demonstrating that marketing is not a cost, but an investment in helping them get their shit done.
You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?
I have three metrics that I align my marketing team to: awareness, revenue and trust (ART). In my opinion creating these three things is the value of marketing to a business.
If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your number 1?
Content marketing as a marketing strategy – not a tactic – of storytelling. It’s the secret marketing sauce that had proven value before Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose defined the term. It should be marketing.
What’s the marketing song you’re tired of hearing?
Gosh… It’s probably any of the snake oil that a salesman, consultant or analyst wants to put in front of the word marketing. Right now agile marketing gets me a bit frothy, as it’s complete bollocks. Marketing is agile by default.
What’s got you rocking today?
What could be more exciting than sponsoring rockstarcmo.com? But seriously, this gig has everything I’ve mentioned in this Q&A: a great team, budget and a leader that is building a rocket ship. We may fail, but fuck me this will be fun.
If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?
If I have to pick one it’ll have to be Seth Godin. Maybe he’s an obvious choice and maybe I should seem more interesting – but his writing gave me my un-ratified-by-any-university master’s degree in marketing. However, if Theodore Levitt wasn’t inducted at the time of my vote, maybe he’d edge it.
Any final words before you drop the mic?
Stop dancing, make money moves, create ART and be bold. Create a rocket ship and to hell with the BS.