Inspiring Customer Campaigns and Event Creativity
- Embracing change. The pandemic fast-forwarded digital transformation in marketing.
- Customer centricity. Apptio’s marketing strategy focuses on enriching CX.
- Pipeline targets. The effectiveness of marketing strategies is measured by hitting pipeline exit targets.
As chief marketing officer of Apptio, Allison Breeding oversees the company’s global marketing team — a team focused on driving brand recognition and demand for Apptio’s technology business management (TBM) solutions worldwide. Allison brings more than 20 years of experience in global demand generation, market category creation and building high-performing marketing teams.
Most recently, she served as the VP of Global Marketing at Anaplan, a SaaS cloud platform company. In this role she transformed and scaled a revenue marketing practice and team, contributing to strong year-over-year growth for the company. Allison’s belief in building strong teams and putting customers first has delivered success at her previous leadership roles at Docker Inc., GE Digital, Red Hat and Corning. Allison graduated from Elon University with a BS in International Business.
In the wake of the global pandemic, the marketing landscape underwent a rapid transformation, presenting both challenges and opportunities for businesses worldwide. As companies raced to adapt to the new digital age, marketing leaders have stood at the forefront of this change, orchestrating strategies that emphasized customer centricity, pipeline targets and data-driven decision-making.
Today, we delve into the secrets of success in how Allison and marketing teams helped drive brand recognition and demand with strategies and approaches that are shaping the future of marketing in a world driven by digital transformation.
We caught up with Allison for a five-question Q&A on her role as CMO in our latest edition of the CMSWire CMO Circle series.
Editor’s note: This transcript is edited for clarity.
From Classroom to C-Suite: An Unbroken Marketing Journey
Jennifer Torres: Hi, this is Jennifer Torres, reporter with CMSWire and this is CMO Circle. Today I’m very excited to welcome Allison Breeding, CMO at Apptio. Welcome, Allison.
Allison Breeding: Thank you so much. Happy to be here.
Torres: Well, we’re happy to have you. So, we’ll get right to it. My first question for you is, how did you get involved in the marketing field?
Breeding: You know, I am one of those rare people that went to college to be in marketing and I’m in marketing. So, when I was trying to decide, I knew I wanted to be in business. I was trying to decide which area I wanted to specialize in. I took a few marketing classes and loved them.
And, you know, I just I set my sights on being a marketer out of the gate and have been ever since.
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Diving into the Digital Deep End: A CMO’s Maiden Voyage Amid Pandemic Tides
Torres: Very good well, with things like generative AI and Large Language Models, how has the role of CMO in this digital age?
Breeding: It’s so interesting, Jennifer, I became a CMO in the middle of the pandemic. So, first time CMO and so many changes were coming at me at once and I do think that the pandemic really put digital transformation into a fast forward motion across the board. And so, not only was that important to what I did as a CMO of Apptio, but also how I am going to market, and it’s been so important to stay on top of just all of the trends that are coming our way.
It’s incredibly important to understand where how our customers are consuming data, how they prefer to consume data and be very aware of all the changes in privacy regulations, ChatGPT, AI — so much modern tech coming our way that I think it’s kept us on our toes. And it’s just been very important to kind of stay at least in line with what’s coming our way.
We’re kind of a growth mindset team here. So, we love to try new things. We try to keep a very open mind, we are not afraid to fail, we just fail fast and keep moving forward. I think that coupled with just the importance to really embrace data and make sure that that you’re using that to move as fast as you possibly can to know what’s working, and to be able to make changes — all of that, I think has been a very dynamic and interesting twist to the life of the CMO which has historically been very brand oriented and that sort of thing. But it’s been a very interesting gig. That’s for sure.
Marketing Magic: Breeding’s Pride in Customer Campaigns and Event Creativity
Torres: Next up, can you tell me about a marketing campaign that you’re particularly proud of?
Breeding: Yes, you know, so that is such an interesting question. I will say I’ve loved how creative my team has been on our paid media and you know, just the way that we’re using dynamic content to reach our customers and prospects on where they are on their journey. But what I’m most proud of, is we when I came to Apptio, I was very impressed by the rich customer base that we have. A
nd so, at the beginning of the pandemic, we had no idea how important our customers were going to be the success and livelihood of our company, we’ve always been a very customer first company. But we started to really realize that we were not giving our customers the experience that they deserved through marketing. We have a great customer success team, great sales team — but marketing was not doing anything by way of marketing to customers once they were part of the Apptio portfolio.
And so, we created a customer marketing team and all the goodness that comes with that. And we worked very, very closely with our customer success and our sales team to build it. This is really aligning all of our campaigns and our approaches to ensure these customers have a really, really great experience with us. And also, that we can keep them up to speed on innovations and all of that. And also turn them into brand evangelists within their own companies and rock stars on stages and events and speaking opportunities. I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish through our customer marketing efforts.
And then I know you only asked me for one, but we’ve just gotten really creative at events, so you know, coming into our new normal where people are kind of back at live in-person events, again, I think it’s really important to just customize that in-person experience too and do fun things to stick out. Most recently, we went to an event in San Diego, and we all wore bomber jackets to stand out, along with some really awesome sunglasses and you know, just kind of stuck with that that Top Gun theme throughout the event and it was it created a huge buzz. It’s kind of fun finding that way through the noise.
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Pipelines and Performance: Key Metrics for Marketing Success
Torres: What are some of the key metrics you use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies?
Breeding: Our big metric and what I always call — our currency — is we drive pipeline, and we partner with the business to do that. So, my main MBO is whether or not we hit our collective pipeline exit targets. We have all kinds of measurements around, so, you know how much is required at the top of the funnel to drive leads to get to the middle of the funnel, so that they can then be turned into meetings that then turn into pipeline, all of that. But by and large, if I’m not hitting pipeline exit targets, then we’ve got to really look at what we’re doing and make some changes.
Networking and Knowing Your Market: a Blueprint for Aspiring CMO
Torres: My favorite question is this one, what advice would you give to someone who hopes one day to become a CMO and get into the marketing field?
Breeding: I’ll hit that from the prospective of someone who to be a leader in the C-suite. First, I would say, and I know this to be incredibly true, never underestimate the importance of your network. It is so critical to your success. You should nurture it, you should just really, really leverage it throughout your career. So, that’s kind of my high-level answer.
The second answer, particularly, you know, with respect to CMOs in general, I think my biggest advice and what I think I’ve benefited from the most, was just taking the time to really understand the market that you’re in. Understand the dynamics, listen to your sales teams and really understand that voice of the customer. Listen to customers, listen to prospects and then just really have a good handle on your data. Those are kind of areas that I focused on as I came into this role, and it really helps. The more you can get that voice of your actual customer base out to market, the better off you are — and the better off future customers are and existing customers.