CMO Chats with David Turner, former CMO of IRIS Software Group

Ortus Chats


Former CMO | IRIS Software Group

David Turner, former CMO of IRIS Software Group, talks to The Ortus Club’s Austen Clark about the rapid advancement of AI and Martech technology and the importance of bold and innovative marketing strategies, even in traditional B2B sectors.


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

  • Marketing’s role in driving innovation, contributing to product development, operations, and customer service
  • The crucial role of having a comprehensive understanding of not just marketing but also the broader business landscape
  • Emphasising the importance of integration not just within marketing functions but across the entire business
  • Beyond sales and web traffic, the elevation of brand awareness is emphasized as a significant measure of a marketing campaign’s success


What does your current company do?

CHAS, a Veriforce company, provides compliance and risk management solutions for companies to reduce risk in their supply chain and ensure compliance. Our solutions also address a whole load of barriers, like health and safety, but also societal sustainability, social value, and other areas of compliance that are becoming increasingly important.

What are your biggest marketing challenges at the moment?

We’ve been in a constant state of flux because of the development of technology over the last 10 to 15 years. The advance of martech has had a huge, positive impact on marketing, but it’s also presented challenges to CMOs. Right now, we have the whole challenge of AI, which I think is providing massive opportunities but also potentially posing threats as well. For us in marketing leadership roles, we’ve got to get our heads around how we use that technology and how we respond to the challenges that arise. And also, outside of that, how do we continue to show leadership and drive value across our marketing teams, but also value across our organizations?

Could you tell me about a particularly innovative or successful marketing campaign that your previous team executed?

We did a whole number of things, small and big. The biggest one, and most innovative, both for IRIS and for the sector at the time we were in it, was a B2B selling software for accountants, schools, and HR and payroll professionals. As you may know, B2B software can be quite traditional and quite mundane, if you will. We decided to turn it around. And so, we went for our big, above-the-line, out-of-home campaign, which used radio and sports advertising. We were on buses, trams, and tube stations across London, Manchester, and other places in the UK. We went big, and we went bold. It’s something that IRIS has never done before. It’s something that very few companies in our sector have done other than some of the very more consumer-facing end of the market, and it had a real impact. We increased our brand awareness significantly, but it also drove web traffic, drove sales, and drove revenue. It was an extremely exciting campaign to run.

What does the future of marketing look like?

The challenge of AI means that marketing is going to continue to change quite considerably. We have to embrace the opportunities that AI throws up, and I think this is really exciting. With the amazing opportunities that AI does give us, we’re going to have to respond to the ongoing challenges. But we also have to remember the basic principle of marketing, which is that we are there to drive sales. We’re there to drive sales, certainly in B2B; that’s always a massive objective for us. We’re there to build brands, to keep innovating, and to keep being creative. We can’t just let technology take the strain—we have to continue focusing on the basics. Also, I’m a big believer that marketing has to contribute across the group. We cannot just focus on a narrow silo of marketing; we have to be looking right across the organization, whether it’s product development, operations, or customer service. Marketing has to be driving innovation and adding value to all of those areas.

“We’re there to build brands, to keep innovating, and to keep being creative.”

What is the role of the CMO in one word? Why?

I came up with the word integral. I think marketing is integral to all parts of the business. Marketing has to be integrated across its own functions. All of the areas of marketing need to be integrated and working together; the marketing efforts have to be integrated with the whole company as they are integral to the operations and the success of the company.

What career advice would you like to share with other marketing leaders?

The thing I always say to marketing people, mostly to the people who work for me, whether they’re new to marketing, developing their careers, or want to move into marketing and leadership roles, is that it’s really important to learn your craft—not only about marketing and all its aspects but also learn about the wider business operations and understand what other people in your organization are doing. Marketing cannot work in a silo. I see too many people who just want to be marketers, and they are kind of quite blinkered in what they do, and they don’t really understand what goes on in those areas. Absolutely get in, work with your colleagues, govern work in other areas of your business, and understand what they do—because marketing is absolutely integral to all those parts.

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