Liz Miller oversees the daily operations, programs, research and strategy of the CMO Council and its special interest networks. With the CMO Council, she has directed the development of research and thought leadership content development ranging from the annual "State of Marketing" study to the "CMO-CIO Alignment" study.
A seasoned marketer and communications executive, Miller brings a varied career that spans 20 years in the sports, entertainment, retail, health, beauty and personal care industries.
What is your proudest work achievement in the past year?
I am most proud of assembling a new team here at the CMO Council. We all know turnover happens, and we all know that without our teams, we are nothing. Over the past year, we said farewell to several talented marketers who had gone on to bigger and better things. But that left us with some significant holes and a need to rebuild our program team, almost from scratch. Our new team has new expertise in social strategy, data management and content development that I think will help the CMO Council move forward, developing even more content, even stronger research and more opportunities for our members to share their knowledge and insights. I'm crossing my fingers I can now accomplish the second hardest thing…keeping the great team you just worked your butt off to assemble!!!
What do you like most about your job?
My job is a little nuts in that I spend my day marketing to marketers…but I'm not selling them solutions or products…but I'm "selling" them insights and knowledge from their peers. It's a little wild when you sit down and think about it. I ask them about their best ideas and their best strategies…and every day, I am a little amazed at what they tell me. My job is like being in the most advanced marketing class in humanity—I am constantly learning about being the best from the best.
My job is to turn all of that thinking around and share it with the rest of the marketing community. So really, what's not to like? I am able to play with all the cool toys, test all the new tech, and hear about the pros and cons from the best in the business. So it might sound ridiculous, but…marketing is what I like most about my job! I also have a great relationship with our executive director, Donovan Neale-May. So much of what we talk about today is the dynamic among marketers and the rest of the C-Suite, and I can say without a doubt, that the relationship I have with my CEO and with my head of sales has helped me achieve lots of really great things here. No idea is discounted or just shot down—no matter how big and crazy it may sound—because we have a relationship built on past success and trust.
How can more women be successful in the B2B marketing industry?
You know, it is funny; a lot of conversations in marketing have been focused on developing a culture where we can "fail fast," where we can all try a new way to reach our customers, test it, perfect it, test it again. And if it doesn't work, we measure, learn from the mistake and move on quickly. So I suppose my thinking around how more of us women can be even more successful in the B2B marketing world is to give ourselves permission to fail fast. Be audacious and a bit outrageous; don't be afraid to fail—just do it fast. Come up with that new idea. Try it, test it, measure it; and if it fails, just move fast. But don't just stand there waiting for someone else to give you permission.
What's your best piece of advice to women in B2B marketing?
I guess it boils down to two things: 1) Embrace your role as a storyteller, and 2) Go out and get a mentor—not just someone you admire or would like to emulate, but someone who will call you on your own crap! For the storytelling, I think we marketers can easily forget that part of our role is to translate the values, goals, and expertise of our own organizations into something that is tangible and relevant for our customers. In B2B marketing, it is super easy to get caught up in a dialog about speeds and feeds, spewing out data points in a shock and awe strategy to overtake the competition. But no matter who you are trying to sell to, our customers are all people, and all people love a good story. Crafting a great narrative, even around the most turgid subject can turn you from a face in the marketing crowd to a stand out in business.
My second point is more of a career-long journey piece of advice. My mentor was my boss, Don Ebert, who I worked for across two organizations in my sports marketing days. To this day I consider him to be my mentor, not because of his wisdom or his own success, but because he gave me the runway to make my own successes and my own mistakes. Every time I would present a marketing plan or strategy he would have one question, "So What? Who Cares?" If it didn't pass the so-what test—and the only things that passed were things where the answer tied to the customer or to revenue—they didn't fly. It forced me to look at every request, every strategy, every plan through the eyes of the customer and the bottom line.