CMO Chats with Andy Weiss, CMO of Ceipal

Ortus Chats

Andy Weiss

CMO | Ceipal

Andy Weiss, CMO of Ceipal, discusses integrating storytelling with demand generation, adapting to market changes, and proving marketing’s organisational value.

 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Look at the diverse challenges the CMO faces, from keeping up with new marketing trends to navigating economic conditions
  • Explore how the CMO addresses the constant introduction of new technologies and platforms in marketing, deciding which innovations to adopt or ignore.
  • Delve into the necessity of adaptability in marketing, essential for responding to both market changes and internal company dynamics.
  • Reflect on the CMO’s description of his role as a navigator, overseeing a wide range of organizational aspects from strategy and product development to HR and operations.

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We’d love to learn a bit more about yourself and the position that you’re in right now.

I think of myself as a somewhat atypical CMO in the sense that I bring together what I like to call brand storytelling and demand generation. It harkens back to my youth; I grew up in one of the houses we lived in, where my dad had a darkroom for photography. As a result, I became a bit of a photo buff, partly because of that. The way I think about and look at photography falls into two camps. There’s the image capture and what you put in the frame. What’s the perspective? Are you low or high? Is it landscape or portrait? And all the subject matter that goes into that image is captured. Then, back in the day, we’d go into the darkroom and develop the film by exposing it to light, paper, and chemicals. Now, it’s digital and involves manipulating things in that fashion, and increasingly, today, with AI. But at the end of the day, that image portion isn’t finished until you go through that processing component as well. And so what happens is that when we bring those two things together, I can then print, hand, or share this image with you, Austen, and say, ‘Hey, here’s my finished image’, and it tells the full story.

The way I look at marketing is like those two pieces coming together. The image capture is the brand storytelling component, and the image processing is the demand generation or capture component. Then, that finished product that I’m handing to you is that bottom-line growth for the organization. And so, what I’ve been able to do throughout my career, having started on the agency side, then transitioning to the corporate side of marketing, both in B2B and B2C, is bringing those two pieces together and helping organizations in a variety of different industries grow and scale their businesses. Today, that’s what I do at Ceipal, a company in the recruitment and staffing software business.

I love that. I really liked the analogy using photography there. That really leads me to the next thing that I’d love to learn a bit about: marketing is such a vast thing, right? There are so many elements to marketing. As you were saying before, it’s not as simple as just one and done. Talk me through some of the biggest challenges that you’re finding at Ceipal within the marketing realm and how you’re planning on tackling those going forward.

That’s a great question. As marketers, we’re constantly faced with an array of challenges and lots of things coming at us. I’ve been in this business long enough to kind of face a lot of those. Many of them I characterize as bright, shiny objects. You get your bright, shiny objects that were, back in the day, social media, Facebook, augmented reality, Web3, and ABM. Then you have your leadership coming to you and saying, “Hey, I just heard about this new thing called Twitter, or this new thing called Facebook”, or, “Hey, what’s Web3?” or “Should we be doing NFTs?” You’re constantly bombarded with those bright, shiny objects that you need to figure out how to unpack and do something with, and then you also have the economic and market conditions that kind of ebb and flow. How do you navigate those things?

Marketing’s kind of at this weird inflexion point. What I mean by that is that outside of those bright, shiny objects and marketing conditions, organisations are trying to unpack or better understand the role that marketing plays within their organisation. If you read any headlines, “It’s this organisation’s getting rid of the CMO”, “This one’s adding a CRO”, or “This one’s moving, dividing up the role of marketing and moving it into different departments.” At its core, it comes down to our marketing leaders and how we’re demonstrating the value that we’re bringing to an organisation.

As of last week, Peter Mahoney is now the CMO of GoTo, and he shared an article talking about how the pathway for a CMO might actually be the CEO type of role. What he was sharing was that the role of marketing is multifaceted. We touch a lot of different things, and the more we can demonstrate the value that we bring to an organisation, the better off our teams are going to be. Because our teams feel a lot of that influx, whether it’s the bright, shiny objects, the economy, or now marketing reports to a CRO, all of those things are kind of in response to that. But as marketing leaders, we need to lean into getting into those conversations, whether it’s operations, whether it’s finance or data, and not only getting into those conversations but earning and keeping our seat at the table by demonstrating our understanding of the business and how we marketers can help add value.

That’s the biggest challenge: those bright, shiny objects in the economy are going to continue to happen because those things happen in a cyclical nature. But the true piece is: What is the value of marketers? And what are we bringing to the organisation?

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had a lot of conversations with marketing leaders. One thing that I’ve sort of come to a mental conclusion, if you will, is that I personally believe that marketers are the most adaptive individuals within any company. When you look at sales, they focus on generating; when you look at finance, they focus on the bottom line; and when you look at operations, they focus on the data. When you look at marketing, they have to focus on all of those aspects, try to bring them all together into one, and take into consideration every single department that they work with. And that bright, shiny object you’ve mentioned before is another key element right there, right? There are so many new things coming into the world—not even just the marketing world, but the world in general—that marketers are trying to understand. Can I leverage this? Is this something that I can use to my advantage? Is this something that we should be putting funds into? Yeah, I genuinely couldn’t agree more.

With that, how does your company stay ahead of its competitors when it comes to marketing? That’s a good segue into the next question, which is: How are you trying to be ahead of the curve in comparison to the sort of competitors that are in your industry at the moment?

The flexibility component is a job requirement; and the only way that you’re going to do that is to continue to be a student of your industry, the space, and your market. What really helps us do it, and what I’m trying to put in place to upskill and transition my team through, is how we set up a marketing motion where we’re constantly iterating, evolving, and learning.

Ceipal, by its very nature, is a disruptor in the space. We started out in IT and engineering, more specifically software engineering, staffing, and more general staffing. Today, we’re actually launching into a new vertical in healthcare, so it’s a big day for us. But as disruptors, we can’t do what everyone else is doing. So it’s a job requirement, essentially, for us to be flexible, adaptive, and figure out what’s going on and not do what everyone else is doing. Be a student of what your competitors are doing.

Then, we need to understand what the market wants and what our customers and prospects are looking for. And are there competitors solving that need, or what can we do to fill that gap? That’s the space that we want to play in because, one, it’s an unmet need; two, it allows us to create differentiation and a moat around the products and services that we provide.

“The flexibility component is a job requirement; and the only way that you’re going to do that is to continue to be a student of your industry, the space, and your market.”

It is an interesting approach. To paraphrase, I sort of think the message that you’re saying is that sometimes, when you’re walking through the forest, don’t try and look for the path, but sometimes create your own. I think that’s really what your message is here. Sometimes, there’s so much going on that it’s easy to follow someone else’s lead. But sometimes the best step forward is for you to say, ‘You know what? We’re going to create our own path and we’re going to try and be the individuals that stand out within our own rights.’ I think that’s a really strong message for marketers in general as well, which is that following the crowds is the easy option, but the best option is to just take that leap of faith and create something of your own, or at least create the right path for yourself.

But it needs to be on brand. That disrupter, off-the-beaten-path approach works with Ceipal because that’s our brand ethos. It’s not going to work for everyone. There are other categories in which our brand was not necessarily the disruptor; we were the leader, so we needed to take a different stance. But what is important in all of this, and it comes back to that demand generation component, is understanding the underlying data—knowing what’s meaningful and relevant to your brand and your customers. But then, ultimately, what’s the return? What’s the ROI on that? Know when to step off the path, when to stay on it, and place the right bets.

Yeah, no, I love that. Just to sort of bring to a conclusion, in one word, how would you describe the role of a CMO?

The word that comes to mind is similar to your flexibility, and that is navigator. As a CMO, you need to navigate not only the market and marketing. There are the customer needs and wants, brand storytelling, demand creation and capture, and all the data that’s associated with it. But then it’s also navigating company strategy. It’s sales and customer success that grow and retain customers. There’s navigating with your product team to help grow and evolve the product to meet demand or find new ways of evolving the product to grow and scale in that fashion. Then, with HR and operations—particularly with HR—building and navigating relationships so that you can grow a talent pool and retain and keep your current talent motivated and engaged, which gets you into navigating your own people.

Lastly, the thing that wraps everything up is change management. Change is a constant. As a CMO, your ability to understand and help your team navigate that change pulls the right levers because we can only sustain so much individually, as a team, and as an organization. Knowing when to push and when to pull will keep your team and the organisation focused on the challenge at hand. So that’s why, as a CMO, you need to navigate.

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