Marketing Gets Real Episode #3: This Is the Shit You Get Fired For!

You know those people who you just love to be around? The ones that fill an entire room with positive energy the second they walk through the door? Jeff Marcoux is one of those people. He’s been a CMO Lead at Microsoft. He’s defined categories at TTEC and Icertis. He’s a prolific speaker and teacher. And most of all, he’s a super-good human … even though he nearly got fired once! (More on that later …)

He’s also in perpetual motion. That’s why he’s the perfect person to ask about innovation—and the rewards and pitfalls that come with it. In the latest fast-paced episode of the Marketing Gets Real podcast, Cari and Dana talked with Jeff about the importance of understanding the full funnel, the vital role of customer marketing, and Jeff’s latest venture at Sphere Strategy, where he’s helping brands in so-called “prohibited categories” (cannabis/CBD, gambling, supplements) market better and overcome the algorithms. Let’s get started…

“This made us somewhat unpopular…”

One of Jeff’s unofficial titles is the “sales enablement guy.” He’s taught it. He’s done it. And he’s successfully made sales and marketing collaborate on common goals. His secret: Pairing a sales leader with a marketing leader, and then asking them to dig deep into the funnel. But when he found out sales was letting certain leads age out, he had to get real: He told them to deal with their leads first before asking for more top-of-funnel!

Yet those honest conversations helped sales and marketing grow closer. “Sales found that we weren’t attacking them, but bringing them along, trying to figure out how to improve,” he says. “Because if we can increase sales’ win rate by 2%, it can reduce the lead gen at the top of the funnel by 1,000 accounts.”

“If your customers aren’t happy, everything becomes really hard.”

Maximizing cross-sells and upsells. Reducing churn. Boosting recurring revenue. They’re all critical in marketing. But without happy customers, you don’t have sales references, case studies, proof points—all the things that help you market in the first place. That’s why customer marketing is so important, and why Jeff says, “I wanna work for a company that has raving fans.”

To illustrate the importance of customer marketing, Jeff shares a story from Dan Heath’s book “Upstream.” It’s about two friends walking along a river. They see a child going by. Then another one. They realize the kids need help. The friends start pulling the children from the water. Then one of the friends starts walking upstream. “Are you giving up?” the other friend asks. “No, I’m gonna go stop the person from throwing the kids in the river!”

“That’s sales and product at times,” Jeff says. “You’re giving more bodies. Sales says, ‘give me more customers.’ But if the product keeps accelerating the amount of water coming down, those two things have to get fixed, because it impacts your success.”

“This is what people lose their jobs for at Microsoft”

Sometimes, the biggest “oh shit” moments come right after what you think is your greatest success! Jeff found this out early in his Microsoft career after his team launched an e-magazine. “It was well-designed, well laid out, broken into infographics and videos, had social handles and went to an independent website,” he says. It launched. It got great feedback. Then another team at Microsoft learned about it. They weren’t happy because it led traffic away from their site. 

Next thing you know, on a Friday afternoon, Jeff got a call from his boss’ boss’ boss. “He said, Jeff, this is what people lose their jobs for at Microsoft.” The e-magazine was dead, just 72 hours after launch.

In the clip below, Jeff explains his lesson learned: take the time to understand the dynamics of an organization and try to understand the “why:”

You won’t get fired for listening to the full version of Episode 3, so tune in now! You’ll hear Jeff talk about the time he had to tell sales that only 11 of 2,000 leads were showing intent in the market. You’ll discover how he’s using his B2B marketing skills in the B2C world. And if you listen closely, you’ll hear Cari reference a popular children’s book and discover Dana’s favorite Redman, Ore., pizza joint. You might even learn a thing or two about cannabis. It’s all in Episode 3! Love what you hear? Subscribe today!