Q&A: Phil Fernandez, CEO, Marketo

Phil Fernandez, CEO of Marketo recently published a book titled Revenue Disruption: Game-Changing Sales and Marketing to Accelerate Growth. Fernandez took time to answer our questions about the book and the future of marketing.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): You mention in your book that there has been a seismic shift in the process of buying and selling. What is that seismic shift?

Fernandez: I like to use car buying as my example because the way it works applies to anything. When I was 16 I got my first car. I went to five or six different dealerships for different car brands. The only way to figure out what kind of car I wanted was to try cars. I tried a bunch of them and bought the car I wanted based on that.

A few weeks ago, I went and got a new car. I researched everything — Porsche, Audi, Lexus — and I knew every last thing about them, before I went out onto a lot. That same shift that we can all relate to from car buying has impacted everything. An incredible amount of information has shifted to the buyer. And that’s power. Now, 70% of that decision is made before the customer ever speaks with a sales representative. I’m a firm believer that any time you see these shifts in the world that opportunity is created. There will be new winners and new losers.

DMN: Of the strategies in the book, which one do you think is most useful to our readers?

Fernandez: Buying has changed and therefore sales and marketing have changed. New technologies need to be adopted. We’re in a web-driven world. The biggest one is that because all buying starts online and in social media, there’s a huge premium now on what I call “inbound marketing.” There’s a move where content marketing is becoming incredibly important. How do [marketers] put compelling content on Twitter and Facebook? They need to answer that.

DMN: What first got you interested in marketing?

Fernandez: I’ve been building companies for 30 years. I was just fascinated by the intersection of technology and marketing. Marketing grew up as a discipline that was all about ideas and all about moving emotions. As the data world started to emerge, it became really clear that these were things that could be measured and analyzed and divided.

The fact that marketing is at once the softest side of a business — emotions — and the hardest side — analytics, is intensely interesting. What we’ve seen in the past 10 years is that all of the stuff that didn’t use to be measurable is very measurable. But, we’re still learning how to make sense out of it.

DMN: In your mind, what’s the biggest mistake a marketer can make?

Fernandez: To fall either on the side that is all soft [so] that it’s all ideas, or to fall on the side that it’s all just about numbers. The balance between the two becomes critical. It’s the collision of two titanic forces happening.

DMN: The title of your book is “Revenue Disruption.” Why is that?

Fernandez: There has been a shift of power and an upending of what a marketing person does when they start their day. What a sales person has done is literally disrupted. When Marketo was founded four years ago we talked with a bunch of CMOs, where we heard over and over again that marketing leaders were struggling with all of the changes going on. [It’s disruption] when somebody walks into their job that they’ve been good at for 20 years and one day it’s completely changed. There are fewer sales people making their quotas than ever before. It’s like a cork on an ocean.

Disruptive. I can’t think of a better word to describe what’s going on.

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