“All CMOs have to be looking at marketing tech and innovation – how to be more innovative, find new insights, and be more efficient. There are many choices in the market, and at some point, as a CMO, you do have to select your stack and implement solutions.” – Says Terese Fernandez, CMO at Fusion Risk Management in an exclusive interview with Talk CMO.
TCMO Bureau: In your opinion, what business strategies are bound to deliver exceptional results during this accelerated period of digital transformation?
Terese Fernandez: It remains imperative to listen to customers, understand their needs are and know how they want to work and operate moving forward. What is changing is how to answer to their needs and where to meet them.
There are expectations that technology can solve everything and bring us together. While the last year and a half have shown the incredible enabling power of technology, it is not a silver bullet. Our reliance and requirement for technology to work more intelligently have intensified.
However, we must continue to listen to clients and prospects. What do they want to solve? And how? Are their goals changing? Are they reorganizing? We’re developing these answers together with them.
Technology is a great enabler, and it is hard to remember life before the efficiencies it has delivered. The key is to reach the market where and how they want to be reached – and that is not a single channel.
After all, 70% of most buying decisions occur before a provider is contacted directly – and much of this messaging comes through digital and online media. Equally, we need to continue to be human and connect – one of the critical lessons of the pandemic period.
Open conversations with customers are vital, and nurturing these partnerships underpins every step as we go through this rapid change. Technology and digital capabilities are great enablers, but we need to understand them in the context of what our goals and needs are.
TCMO Bureau: How open are CMOs to implementing bold ideas? What are the most scared of?
Terese Fernandez: The interesting thing about being a CMO is that you are essential to two brains. First, you want to think ahead, think strategically, be creative, and have bold, innovative ideas to assist customers and grow the business.
The business often looks at us to be the visionary leader. We hear questions like: What should we be doing? How do we best reach customers and prospects? The creative part of our job involves finding new and improved ways of positioning and messaging.
The other part is the data and measurement side – looking at research, metrics, and ROI, not relying on opinion. How are our decisions affecting and enhancing the business? What are the best and most efficient ways to implement creative ideas and potentially impact the market, customers, and prospects? This second part of the job can be challenging.
Sometimes as CMOs, we don’t get the desired results in the anticipated time period, whether this week or next month. While we might track a prospect to purchase the sales pipeline, other brand-building endeavors are harder to measure.
There is an appetite among marketers to be bold-balanced with determining how and where strategies are most effective. To be a good CMO, you have to answer both sides of the equation. It is an important note that CMOs have one of the shortest senior tenures.
This tells us there is extreme pressure to provide results fast. There can also be a fear of failure – failing to see a market trend, failing to deliver a new strategy or tactic, failing to exceed the competition. I’m a big believer in the ‘test and learn’ approach when it comes to failure.
Be smart on what you’re going after, push the limits, and measure, look at data and investigate how you’ve done. Not everything will be successful out of the gate. Use your metrics and data; use everything you have in your arsenal to improve by each iteration.
Use betas, talk to customers and prospects for ideas and feedback, run a focus group. These will alleviate a lot of the fear and help CMOs switch from the ‘what if I fail’ mentality to how we evolve, innovate, and deliver value to our customers and the business.
TCMO Bureau: Do you think CMOs are overachieving business goals and objectives in order to get back on track?
Terese Fernandez: While I wouldn’t call it overachieving, we live by stretch goals. Over the last 18 months, there has been some loss and change of opportunities, and as we enter this next phase of the new normal, it’s about moving forward and capturing the latest opportunities.
At Fusion, we happen to be a business that offers more needed solutions than ever; however, we also recognize that this sweet spot does not last forever.
It is important to remember to run fast but also run smart. So, we can aim to overachieve and take advantage of the market but do it wisely. There is a sweet spot between accelerating towards the top and having a good, effective strategy to take you there.
TCMO Bureau: What kind of technology tools can help implement new digital business advancements?
Terese Fernandez: All CMOs have to be looking at marketing tech and innovation – how to be more innovative, find new insights, and be more efficient. There are many choices in the market, and at some point, as a CMO, you have to select your stack and implement solutions.
However, we also need to recognize that while technology is helpful, it doesn’t solve everything. We need to get rid of the mindset ‘If I add this one tool to my toolset, this will solve everything. More is not always the best answer.
It is more important to align and sync tools you have, utilize the info and continue to assess what else you need to know to be more effective. That said, new technologies are entering the market, and CMOs need to be attuned to what’s coming. So, CMOs should stay curious about technology but avoid getting lost in the sea of solutions.
TCMO Bureau: Halfway through 2021, do you foresee any challenges due to the rapid cloud migration?
Terese Fernandez: Everyone has become so much more comfortable with putting information in the cloud. Even two to three years ago, there was a hesitancy to use the cloud for personal and business purposes, with questions of ‘giving up data’ and fears around security.
But as proven service providers increasingly alleviate these fears, we are getting over this hurdle when it comes to cloud use. There is a greater understanding now of why we are moving to the cloud and how this is hugely beneficial to businesses of all sizes across all industries.
Think about the past 18 months without cloud-based solutions and the flexibility and sharing it has enabled – work and life would have been even more difficult.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Terese Fernandez leads Fusion’s marketing efforts. Joining from RDC where she served as SVP and Global Head of Marketing, Terese has an impressive record of leading contemporary digital and thought-leadership campaigns and is closely aligned with sales and product. Before her time at RDC, she served as Chief Marketing Officer within the GRC Line Division at Wolters Kluwer and has held numerous marketing leadership roles in the financial services industry with firms such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuter, GE, and Deutsche Bank. Terese studied law at Columbia University, Mathematics and International Economics at the London School of Economics, and has an undergraduate degree in Economics with a Mathematics complement from Wellesley College.