Interview with Magnolia International CMO Christopher Justice

Magnolia's Christopher Justice talks about challenges facing CMOs today: timing and communication.

cjustice.jpgChristopher Justice (pictured on the left) is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Magnolia International, an open-source content management system (CMS) developer that works with clients such as Sony, Virgin America and Thomas Cook.

In this interview with CX Network, he talks about challenges the marketing industry faces today and how you, as the CMO, can overcome these. "Listening becomes your default behavior," he says.

CX Network: Can you describe what your role as Chief Marketing Officer at Magnolia entails? How have you developed the company's customer experience strategy?

Christopher Justice (CJ): "My role at Magnolia can be summarized as team builder. We are a distributed organization that serves many departments in multiple locations in four languages. This is not a job for a single leader and therefore we must rely on individual leaders to successfully fulfill our mission. In short, we lead as a tribe. Every person on our team is capable of planning, documenting and leading any marketing initiative. From concept through execution, we carefully say "yes" to those projects that we can deliver results from".

"Our strategy has been to first establish KPIs for lead generation and digital marketing. There are obvious ones such as email open rates and unique site visitors. However these do not give a clear picture of how effective our marketing is. Therefore, we focus on engagement. We have carefully nurtured and curated our contact list, and we measure every aspect of engagement down to geography, role, title and company. We build stronger profiles for our current customers and ensure that new visitors to our site have a consistent experience after providing us with basic profile information."

"From this data, we follow the customer through the buying journey, from first contact to demo to closed opportunity. This allows us to measure what we do and where the organization should adjust strategy, budget and focus. Customer interests change with each season and evolution of technology, so rather than focus on meaningless marketing about how good we are, we instead try to focus on building mindshare and thought leadership. Social and inbound marketing content is our focus, including blogs, articles, infographics and customer stories."

CX Network: What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your role as CMO?

CJ: "Marketing is the most subjective role of any organization. Fonts, colors, design, copywriting and tone are personal and based on past experiences. Not only do you have to address your online reputation but if your marketing efforts do not represent those beliefs of the employees, you fail. This failure is not always directly communicated by staff or the management teams."

"So, the biggest challenge? Communicating to the mass majority of customers, partners, employees, staff, analysts, press and potential advocates of your product that you know what you're doing and you love doing it."

"Another challenge is carefully investing in digital marketing programs that actually produce measurable results. Consumers are barraged with brand images so much so that they ignore real content. You can invest time and money only to have a campaign largely ignored because of economic or geopolitical factors."

"Timing is the key so that's the other challenge - when to do what and to what degree."

CX Network: How do you overcome these communication and timing challenges?

CJ: "To overcome these challenges, listening becomes your default behavior. The artistry is in the timing of introducing campaigns to just the right audience so that they are shared and are capable of being shared."

CX Network: And if you could turn back time, what one thing would you do differently in your role as CMO?

CJ: "In marketing, we have the ability to turn back time already. We can create our own reality. What I would do differently is listen to my heart and my gut more often. As a CMO, you look for leverage to justify what you do with data. However, the reality is that most often your experience and your heart must guide you as much as the metrics you collect. You simply pick up the brush and paint, not thinking but feeling. Reading. Analyzing and then acting with your instinct and soul."

"Should you succeed, the evidence will be in the brand, revenue and the morale of your team. The alternative need not be considered."