Why prioritisation and process are key to this first-time CMO

Former LinkedIn marketing and sales leader, Ben Eatwell, shares his first impressions of leading marketing for a startup at Weploy

Ruthless prioritisation, collaboration and embedding process are top of the list for Weploy's first sales and marketing chief, Ben Eatwell, who takes up the reins this month.

The startup software company has brought on the former LinkedIn marketer to build brand awareness and customer engagement with its on-demand recruitment platform, which aims to shake up Australia's $11 billion recruitment industry by allowing businesses to hire quality, pre-vetted temporary staff.

Eatwell was most recently head of marketing for the LinkedIn sales and marketing solutions division, and formerly the head of marketing for A/NZ, starting back in February 2015. Prior to LinkedIn, he was the head of content and strategy at Prospex Lab, and the general manager of Cirrus Media Australia.

In an interview with CMO, Eatwell said he's not put off by the daunting task ahead of him, which he admits involves “a thousand things to get done” and differs considerably to a CMO role in the corporate world.

“Right now, I’m focused heavily on getting processes done so we can build off of a solid foundation. The main difference at a startup is you don’t walk in with all of these processes set up, you’ve got to go and build them. You’ve got to spend the time thinking about the customer journey and how you want to create value for your customers, and getting those foundations right.” 

What will help is the lessons learnt at Linkedin in what Eatwell labelled "ruthless prioritisation".

“At LinkedIn, there was that ‘maniacal focus’ on what’s important, making sure we drove the products, drove through on activities and where we saw success,” he said. “There is always sales and things you can try to get done, but always focus on what’s most important - and have a maniacal focus on getting it done.”

LinkedIn also taught him collaboration is tantamount to success. “When you’re trying to build something new, you’re going to need stakeholders from all over the company, so I am working very closely with the product team, with the Weploy team, the onboarding team, to make sure we are all pulling in the same direction - we’re all aligned on the same goals," he said.  

First in the job

Eatwell clinched his first ever CMO role at Weploy, a Melbourne-based software company that ultimately aims to kill the job interview. As the first person in the CMO chair, he will be overseeing both marketing and sales for the on-demand recruitment platform. The company uses psychometric and cognitive tests to determine employees' skills to match them with the right jobs, not the experience on their resume.

The matching process works in a similar way that you're matched with an Uber driver - there's no selection involved on the employer's behalf. The platform removes all unconscious bias and discrimination that comes with recruitment.

“It is exciting. A CMO role for a startup is very different than a CMO role for a large organisation. I am not just doing marketing, of course. I am also managing the sales team as we try to build our revenue model rather than try to set up sales into functional silos,” Eatwell said.

“My focus will be on creating a seamless experience for the customer and not on differentiating between revenue source. This growth phase is going to take the effort and spirit of the whole business. In reality, the sales and marketing functions are interdependent and share similar values, it's largely attribution models that prevent them from shining as one team.”  

Asked if he’s feeling the butterflies in starting the new c-level role, he said there’s a lot to absorb, but that he’s up for the challenge.

“If anyone says they walk into a senior c-level role and not find it daunting, in some way I think they are lying. There is so much scope you have to get over. You can’t be an expert in everything. So you have to know where your strengths are, and build your team, and make sure you bring in your other senior stakeholders to fill all the gaps that you have.

“Definitely I will be continuing to brush up on skills. It is a startup, so I will have to get my hands dirty a lot. My executional side is going to get a workout, whereas previously I might not have had so much executional work to do. But it’s daunting and it comes down to prioritisation and knowing how you’re going to spend your time, and knowing who you’re going to bring in to help you fill the gaps. You have to sort out the ‘nice-to-have’ versus the ‘need-to-have.’”

First up, main duties will be centred around creating and driving growth (setting up a sales service channel), and overseeing an expanding marketing team based in Sydney and Melbourne.

“I will be leading the sales and marketing function so that’s looking at everything from awareness right through to the sales funnel, and down to our active customers. So really looking after the growth of the company, and driving it forward," Eatwell continued.

“As we look to grow, we will look to where our priorities are, whether that’s content or traditional field marketing. For me, it is probably going to be focusing around that content, and probably product. Product marketing is going to become more and more important as the product develops and as we get a better understanding of the market and the requirements that our customers want from us.”

Zeal for startups

Eatwell said the CMO role at Weploy appealed to him, in part because of his own personal startup mentality. In the past, he attempted to kick start his own entrepreneurial gig, but failed due to an already hectic life in the corporate world.

“When I first came into the workforce, I had my own company on the side. It was just crazy. I was just working all hours of the day, getting home at 6:00 pm and then working on my business until 11:00 pm and working weekends. In the end, I put aside my own entrepreneurial desires to go into the corporate world.

“So when Weploy came to me and talked about their vision and what they’re trying to do, it really appealed to me. It resonated with what I had wanted to do in the past, and how I gave up on some of the things that I wanted to do because i wanted to pay the rent. So that really resonated with me on a personal level.” 

He said today’s workers and companies are starting to look for more flexible and agile ways of working. People entering the workforce are demanding more flexibility, while companies are striving for improved productivity. He said Weploy sits at the nexus between these two, offering a flexible workforce, which reduces the administrative burden on knowledge workers. 

“Companies are moving away from these hierarchical traditional structures and silos into more project-based work and agile workplaces. The shift to more agile workplaces, where we’re starting to look at itemised roles (pulling them apart and understanding what’s important for these roles to succeed), opens up the opportunity to take away those admin responsibilities that can suck up so much time from a knowledge worker.”  

Understanding data and the push towards greater insights (no longer relying on assumptions and hypotheses but getting actual results from the data) is another exciting trend, Eatwell noted.

“The technology and what it’s enabling us to do is exciting. The personalisation has been around for awhile. We are getting better and better at it. But I am trying to look deeper at our customers and understand what the trends are.

“When I first started, we went on these assumptions. We created ideal customer journeys, we did all of this ideal buying personas, or customer profiles, and now we’re really trying to get into the data, understand the data and let the data take us where we are,” he said.

“That data side is incredibly exciting for me, and helps me do things you wouldn’t have thought possible before.”

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