Comprehending capricious fluctuation in the markets and implementing necessary changes in business endeavors, defines an impeccable market leader. One such proven change-agent and evangelist is Gary Lyng, Chief Marketing Officer at VIOLIN SYSTEMS. His charismatic leadership in defining the compelling vision, strategy with the execution of 360-degree go-to-market, and accelerating revenue has propelled him to achieve many milestones en-route to his current stature.
CIO Look admires such prominent leaders and takes pride in featuring them in its latest issue, entitled “Influential CMOs 2019“. Below are some of the highlights of an interview conducted between CIO Look and Gary:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a leader.
Starting life off as a programmer and eventually leading many different products to consumers, B2B and the enterprise in roles of product management and overall marketing has taught me to always be conscious of the “whole product,” which includes go-to-market. I am curious, adaptable and, most of all, passionate about making a difference for the customer. Beating the competition and trailblazing has always fueled me but I have never, ever looked down on anyone. I’m not afraid to make difficult, timely decisions and remain accountable for the outcome. I toot the horn of my team and let their successes toot my success. I feel that being humble but confident is the best way to have my passion shine through. My favorite quote that I try to live is from President John Quincy Adams “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
In technology marketing, many gravitate to the latest buzzword or technical claims and often are unable to connect the dots to a real-world business, their applications and their customers and, of course, their challenges. As an example, when marketing and selling a product into the data center of a hospital, remember that the hospital is also a business and has customers (patients) as well as budgets. I try to articulate value that not only impacts the data center but the overall business and their customers as well. In this case, the bigger picture becomes “How does it impact a patient at the hospital?” It isn’t just about speeds and feeds but making a difference.
What are the crucial traits which every CMO must possess?
Attention to Detail: It is clear that managing multiple elements, functions and initiatives requires a certain level of juggling. However, as a leader, you must understand how all these points intertwine while keeping the focus on the big picture to deploy the appropriate strategies needed to achieve success.
Technical Aptitude: With MarTech innovation rapidly growing, it is imperative that a leader understand the capabilities of evolving technology to scale, automate with both insight and adjustments. All too often, in my opinion, marketing leaders coming through branding or public relations can sometimes be challenging with all the other critical elements of go-to-market and working closely with product groups and development organizations.
Passion: A CMO should have a passion for making a difference; a passion for inspiring others. It’s imperative that when building a marketing team, that you share your vision, thoughts and proposed projects with each and every member so that they become passionate about what they are doing for the company as well.
As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges are faced by CMOs in a corporate business? And what is your advice to overcome them?
- Always remember that everyone believes they know what marketing is and has an opinion on the subject, whether you like it or not, though very few fully understand the depth and breadth of marketi You have to listen to these opinions but be firm in championing the activities that will achieve the best impact on all aspects of the company—from the market to the customer and the employees as well.
- Transparency is paramount and overcommunication is better than saying too little but be sure that the information you convey is both relevant and useful. Keep the management team involved and commit to sharing their vision internally and participating externally when needed.
- Educate the CFO on spend and ROI and trust that he or she understands their importance.
- Be joined at the hip with head of sales and sales leadership.
How do you upgrade yourself with the volatile technological trends to boost your personal growth?
Through being open to new ways to achieve results, trying new technologies and helping vendors to gain insight or automation. Never walk away form a try-buy, but don’t let it suck your time. This is your primary Achilles heel, protect it.
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the cutting-edge competition in the marketing?
Become the competitors’ target audience. Ensure you are well tied into their social platforms, webinars, blogs, analyst engagement and media. These will provide a sampling of their strategy. Regular engagement with sales teams, but more so be an on-going, open channel for feedback and adjustment with the teams in the field. Always look for new technologies or resources that efficiently handle communications, social media and competitive information gathering to better help create content that effectively spread our marketing messages.
What will be your future endeavors and/or where do you see yourself in the near future?
My passion is inspiring others while disrupting the status quo. There is always a better way. And if you can connect your value back to real-world impact, it touches the emotional side of your target customer, partner and overall ecosystem. Being aware of the balance of EQ versus IQ has served me well to balance between marketing the product versus the truly memorable element of “Why” as Simon Sinek has done so well communicating to many of us. This being said, where do I see myself? Well, perhaps truly in a role touching many lives and making a difference. We will see.