Great passion for marketing with ” dream big as a credo, Tifenn Dano Kwan moved to the United States, where she was able to work for large tech groups in the Silicon Valley. Today, it has chosen to use its American expertise to support European technology companies. In this interview, she shares with us her experience as a CMO and delivers best practices to adopt in the field of marketing to better support fast-growing companies.
You are CMO at Collibra. What is the job of CMO, and more particularly in a startup environment in hypergrowth? Can you tell us more about your role and your missions?
I joined Collibra as CMO in March 2021. My mission is clear, especially in this hypergrowth movement: to make marketing a development lever for Collibra. Go beyond the “support function” to be a strategic engine of growth. But also to align human resources with technical expertise to drive integrated, data-driven strategies, delivering unparalleled customer experiences and growth.
In concrete terms, this translates daily into actions carried out around the development of the pipeline commercial, solution- and value-based storytelling overhaul, global transformation by creating integrated web and digital experiences, and automating workflows Revenue Generation (L2R). It is also important to refocus on customer value and defend its interests: by improving customer lifetime value and its cost of acquisition, essential for any successful marketing strategy.
How has the CMO profession changed in recent years? What new missions have you seen appear during your professional career?
The watchword that characterizes the transformation of our business is undeniably digitization. Even if it was started several years ago, the health crisis has greatly accelerated it.
Our daily life has been completely turned upside down: it is no longer a question of a change in missions but rather the appearance of a new way of working.
Clearly, every tech company — and by extension every business — seeks to solve the challenges facing its customers. But today, the stakes and challenges are no longer the same. It then becomes imperative to address prospects and customers where they are, regardless of the channel, and to support them in this constantly changing environment.
Our role as marketers is to drive this change, and to stay the course on growth prospects despite the changes within our ecosystems.
You were CMO at Dropbox during the pandemic. What impact has the Covid-19 crisis had on your business? What have been the major upheavals for the marketing sector? How did you experience it?
The health crisis has had a considerable impact on the nature of our activity: it should be noted that Dropbox was initially intended for a B2C market, but due to telework imposed by the pandemic, we have seen our target widen to reach a market B2B. We may have been luckier, this development has given us broader insights into how marketing can support business growth.
For a marketer, this experience can only be transformative and exciting.
On the nature of our profession, there was no real pivot, but rather an acceleration of the discussions on the future of work that Dropbox had already started. Because even before the Covid-19 crisis, the company was already data-driven, had a digital approach and thought about reinventing the way people worked. Of course, we had to adapt quickly and rethink our priorities. We had to be flexible and agile, respond to real-time customer demand. We had to ensure that our customers were well supported: forget all the roadmaps and strategic planning that were no longer relevant, to focus on the real needs of the customers at that time. It was fascinating to observe and experience this adaptation!
In terms of international experience, you have worked for several American companies: SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, Dropbox… What did you learn from this experience? Does their marketing approach and vision differ much from those of European companies?
Of course, I learned a lot from these experiences, which were beneficial both personally and professionally. I grew up with these companies, learned everything from them. Early in my career, these companies allowed me to achieve my personal aspirations of living and working in San Francisco, where we are right in the middle of marketing transformation trends and shifts. These experiences also forged my spirit of progression, which over the years encouraged me to diversify and simply see other environments.
It’s not so much the approach that’s different, but there’s a particular dynamic in American companies that you don’t find elsewhere. It is a real breeding ground and stimulus for people working in tech and marketing.
What are the “marketing best practices” to better support fast-growing companies such as Collibra?
It’s important – and even more so in fast-growing companies like Collibra – to have an audit approach to measuring the performance of marketing units. In general, it is necessary to think of the following 6 axes:
- The Total addressable market (TAM) or the total available market: to better understand the market in which we operate and know the opportunities it offers.
- The marketing budget: to check that the budget is well calibrated and associated with the ambitions of the company.
- Product offers: to analyze the offers we have, to see if they are innovative and differentiating from competitors, but also to measure the internal operational systems allowing effective launches of new products in the market.
- Narration : to put in place strong messages that stand out from the competition, clearly explain the offers and attract partners, customers and talents.
- The digital infrastructure: to enhance business growth and development, with the aim of facilitating automation, data access and maximizing customer experience.
- The human: to surround yourself with the best profiles and place the right people in the right positions.
It is also essential to rise from its role as a pure marketer to become a real ” associated“, which uses marketing as a conduit to intensify value and sustain growth.
If we look at marketing trends, what channels or levers are emerging? Which can offer good prospects in terms of performance?
In my opinion, two major levers are emerging to support marketing performance:
- First of all: having a good product manager – especially in tech companies – capable of assimilating market strategy, creating and conveying messages and content that feed all growth channels.
- And then: switch from one Account-Based Marketing (ABM) to a Account-Based Experience (ABX), so that the whole company is interested in the market. It will be necessary to segment all the activities to target in a very precise and personalized way the accounts and groups of purchase on the market.
In your opinion, what are the key points for success as a CMO in 2022? What advice would you give to future CMOs?
It is important to establish “BHAGs” (Big Hairy Daring Goals): in short, having strategic ambitions to be spread over several years, and in agreement with the financial team. Do not hesitate to plan long-term goals while studying trends because they can change quickly.
Next, invest in digital performance infrastructure. The key to growth is in the ability to produce on a large scale at the best cost. Digital performance tools are essential and require an integrated strategy, especially between sales, marketing and IT teams. In short, the sooner you get started, the sooner you win competitively.
Personalization, experimentation and localization are also essential to better target customer demand.
It is also necessary to hire the “best”, by offering advantages to attract and retain the best profiles on the market. Finally, it is also a matter of giving priority to meetings with customers and partners, and dedicating a large part of its agenda to these external meetings.