CNW’s marketing SVP pitches some advice to his peers

The newswire's Ken Wincko shares steps to increase marketing-influenced revenue

Most marketing executives would say they are trying to hire more staff with expertise in social media, analytics or video. Ken Wincko, on the other hand, says he’s looking for athletes.

Of course, Canada Newswire (and its parent company PR Newswire) might not seem like the kind of place where you need to know how to catch a ball or sprint to a finish line, but the firm’s senior vice-president of marketing isn’t really referring to athletes in that sense. Instead, it’s a way he describes the kind of go-for-the-distance all-rounders who can do three essential things. This includes creating great content, using technology strategically, and the ability to make smart decisions based on data.

“The overall requirements for a team have changed significantly,” Wincko said in an interview with Marketing. “In the past, there were a lot of marketers who were specialized in things like marketing tech, or people who were focused on press releases and communications, or those who were on product marketing.”

That model no longer works, according to Wincko, who recently distilled some advice for his peers in a white paper on how to become a data-driven CMO. He said while much of the paper’s contents look at issues that would apply to many organizations, the essence of it is rooted in personal experience.

“When I came into CNW and our parent company two years ago, we were in a situation where we weren’t able to clearly articulate the impact that marketing was making on company growth,” he said. “There was a lack of credibility within the [marketing] organization. We could measure earned media, web traffic and things like that, but when I was hired, the mandate was to drive topline revenue growth.”

Though he takes some infrastructure, processes and data to get there, Wincko said it’s just as important to think about specific metrics that will help evaluate your efforts along the way. His team, for example, has developed what he calls an “impact expectation score,” which shows how its content is being viewed or downloaded as a ratio to the actual sales the company closes with clients.

Wincko said it’s an approach that’s working. The company has seen a 166% increase in leads year over year and a 360% increase in marketing-influenced revenue.

“It’s a big difference when now we’re able to share how the marketing team is making an impact on pipeline and revenue,” he said.

CNW’s mission, obviously, is to encourage more companies to concentrate on “earned” media attention, such as when a journalist uses a press release as the starting point for a story. Wincko suggested the rise of ad blocking is already showing the vulnerabilities of relying on paid media such as online ads. Over time, he said CMOs could scale their effectiveness through media they own, such as their own blog, and promote through paid. Being more data-driven means you can better optimize this mix, he added.

Beyond the white paper, CNW will be coming out with a report soon based on a survey of more than 1,500 CMOs that will examine the use of paid, earned and owned media to provide more insight to the firm’s clients and prospects.

“What CMOs need is a lifecycle approach – a multi-channel, content-led program that touches people perpetually,” he said. “We’ll be spending a lot of time talking about marketing transformation.”

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