Interview: Meet Our CMO In Residence

by | Mar 4, 2022

I sat down with Karyn to gain her perspectives on a number of topics (you know how we love perspective here!). Read on for highlights from our conversation and get to know all about our resident expert c-suite advisor

Mike Ruby

Karyn, we’ve been collaborators for over four years now – first as teammates on the marketing leadership team at Flexport, then as agency and client partners while you were CMO at Kloudspot. Through that time, you’ve also worked closely with Ted Kohnen. Suffice to say, we three hit it off and have strong personal and professional connections. But, what inspired you to join up with an agency after your successful career as a client-side marketer?

Karyn Scott

People perform their best when they’re energized. And I’ve recognized that I really get my energy and I feel I’m contributing the most value as a CMO in that first three-to-six-month phase of a company’s marketing journey. That’s when I’m figuring out who the company is, what problems they are trying to solve, and how the right marketing strategy can help. I spend a lot of time listening, learning, pressure testing across the ecosystem to build a strategy and map out the best way to communicate with the various audiences. Crafting a go-to-market motion to quickly deliver revenue, optimizing the team for success and executing a lego tower of communications is what gets me fired up. I love that moment where we walk the team through the final recommendations and pass the baton. That’s what gets me fired up.

Mike

Most recently, you’ve been doing this kind of work as a fractional CMO.

Karyn

Yes. And I’ve really enjoyed helping a variety of different organizations, but what I discovered was that I could only go so far.  Most of my clients needed a full suite of services that expanded beyond what one person can do: from branding…to digital…and web…and search…and, and, and. So then the company or I would recommend hiring an agency, and we’d spend so much time and money going through the search and onboarding and discovery processes. It all added up to a tremendous amount of lost time to market. What I love about partnering with P&B is the opportunity to have an army at the ready.

Mike

We’ve seen the same thing. Slow kills. Having a CMO in residence will enable us to help clients keep the momentum.

Karyn

That’s right. Speed to lead. That’s the name of the game.

Mike

We’ve found that many companies actively must make trade-offs in terms of priorities. Do they focus on the brand and positioning? Do they focus on digital campaigns? With Park & Battery, they’ll get a win-win, without having to make those tough decisions.

Karyn

There’s no re-education process for an agency. We can truly ‘fly the plane as we build it.’ There’s tremendous value in that.

Mike

When we were initially discussing how we might work together at Park & Battery, you proposed the concept of the Agency CMO in Residence. Where did the idea come from?

Karyn

Many venture capital firms have a great model for this called executives in residence (EIR), where they have seasoned C-suite executives on staff to help their portfolio companies. I like that model and think as part of P&B we can take that one step further into actionable results quickly. Typically, small- and mid-sized organizations have two options: find a way to hire a seasoned CMO when perhaps the company is not ready – this doesn’t end well – or go the alternative route of hiring a consultant or fractional CMO who doesn’t have a team to do the work she will recommend. Park & Battery will provide a unique, third option.

Mike

Tell us about your marketing leadership journey.

Karyn

After a short stint as a journalist, I spent the early years of my career doing every job in marketing. PR. Demand generation. Branding. Messaging. Communications strategy, marketing operations, and product marketing. It was on that journey that I discovered my strengths, what I liked doing, what energized me. And I discovered what drained me. So, what I learned is that CMOs all have superpowers – areas where they are strong and get more energy. And they also understand the areas they find draining or just boring. For example, I love messaging, positioning and communications strategy. I light up and get super energized figuring this all out. But I really don’t get as excited writing SFDC nurture campaigns. I know what I want from these, so I hire the best-of-breed people in these areas to lead these functions.

Mike

What do you think companies should look for in a Chief Marketing Officer?

Karyn

The best advice I can give any founder or CEO looking for a CMO is to run quickly from candidates claiming to be a jack of all trades or all-around athlete. Successful CMOs have humility and understand where it makes sense to pull in people who are much better in key areas. A bit of advice I received early on from one of my mentors was to hire people much better than you in as many areas as possible. I’ve always tried to do that. And in this new model with P&B, we can deliver that day one. Or day forty-seven. Or whatever day makes sense as the businesses mature.

“When you’ve been in as many tech companies as I have, from Cisco and Salesforce on, you’ve seen a lot. We can shortcut time to market. We know what works.”

Mike

What can our clients expect from you?

Karyn

They’ll get the ‘outside-in,’ no BS perspective of a twenty-five-year veteran, without having to ‘buy’ a full-time CMO compensation package. They’ll get the fractional CMO or EIR with a full menu of capabilities, day one and essentially on-demand. And my hope is that we can design-build-execute revenue generating programs for companies in a timely and cost-effective manner. It’s really an interesting alternative.

Mike

It’s also a rare chance for a company to get a CMO when they may not be ready, for budget or whatever the reason.

Karyn

That’s right! Whether there is a VP of Marketing, a Head of Marketing, or no senior marketing leader in place, clients and their marketing teams can get a lot of value in a short amount of time with us. When you’ve been in as many tech companies as I have, from Cisco and Salesforce on, you’ve seen a lot of things work and a lot of things fail. The ability to fast track success and avoid some of the failures is what working with P&B delivers.

Mike

And you can do one of the things you do best – mentor. I think any marketing leader would be very lucky to learn by your side. Looking back, what’s the one thing you wish you’d had a ‘CMO on your shoulder’ to help you with?

Karyn

Having the conviction of your experience to stand up and say what’s right, as opposed to what people want to hear. That’s really damn hard, if not career limiting. There’s some freedom in being on the outside looking in.

Mike

And now, you get to be that someone.

Karyn

It’s very exciting, and I am so honored to have this opportunity. I’ve actually turned away projects because I just can’t service all of the needs. Earlier in my career I would have jumped at the chance to have both a CMO advisor helping me and the power of a world-class, full-service agency like Park & Battery to help execute.

Michael Ruby

President, Chief Creative Officer

Named the 2021 Best in Biz Creative Executive of the Year and part of the 2018 DMN 40under40, Michael is the President and Chief Creative Officer of Park & Battery. In his role, he is the company’s head of global brand strategy, creative and content. Michael’s work has been recognized by The One Show, Webby Awards, Global ACE Awards, B2 Awards, Content Marketing Awards, numerous awards from The Drum, and his favorite: “Best use of the word ‘boo-yah’ in a b-to-b ad ever,” according to Ad Age.

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