CMO Insights: Greg Gibbons, Senior Vice President, Communications, Siemens Corporation

November 28, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Greg Gibbons, SVP of Communications at Siemens Corporation.

In this video, Greg discusses;

  • Providing a full spectrum of marketing services for diverse business groups throughout a large company
  • Globalizing the marketing function and building resources across markets
  • The challenge of being nimble in today’s technological age and driving a strategy of digitalization

Learn more about Greg from his LinkedIn profile and follow Siemens Global on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, live. I am your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. And today as our guest, we have Greg Gibbons, who is SVP of Marketing Communications for Siemens Global. So Greg, welcome to the show.

Greg Gibbons:

Thanks for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So that’s a big responsibility, cause it seems very good company. So tell us a little bit about what you do, your narrow responsibilities.

Greg Gibbons:

Sure. So as you say, Siemens is a, is a big company, it says sort of diversified industrial conglomerate. Are we doing anything from, you know, technologies for the energy sector, generation, transmission distribution, through to the industrial space. And also very active in certain infrastructure markets like mobile, but it’s limited to building technologies and things like that. So very different than those businesses have very, I guess, different go to go to market structures and models, different customer bases, different customer expectations.

There is some overlap, but I guess it’s quite diverse. So my role as head of marketing communications is to offer some sort of bundle chit service to those divisions, to those groups. And you know, in my current role, what we’re focusing on is anything from traditional branding, advertising media brought through, you know, further down the funnel into demand generation lead generation, those sorts of things. So I guess it’s, it’s the full spectrum. And what really comes for us is, as I said, trying to look for the synergies across those businesses as a shared service, but also being able to account for the differences and support them accordingly. So percentage wise, how much is there a commonality between the different words in there? How much is unique, I guess, or, yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I could quantify it, but if you look at it from, let’s say a very provocative perspective, that might be the best way to do it.

So, you know, something like a food and beverage, which is probably primarily being driven by some of our industrial businesses. But if you don’t get something like a utilities market, that’s closer to the energy space. Of course, that’s not to say we don’t offer technologies from other areas for those particular vertical markets, even if they’re led out of energy or laid out of industry. So it’s difficult to break down the number. You know, we have key account structures in place. We have market development boards in place that are based in those individual divisions and they have the leads on certain customers, certain markets, but at the end of the day, I guess it’s about bringing the best of Siemens in the best possible way to the customer depending on their need. So how big is your team? My current team is about 45.

And I’m based chair in the US but the majority of my team is sitting in Munich. That’s where Siemens is headquartered. There’s a couple of folks sitting in a little German, Tom called Elena, which is almost semen central. We’ve got a big chunk of employees there but you know, increasingly them to globalize our function. So, you know, headquarters is not necessarily just a geographical. I think headquarters is more competence. So it doesn’t mean that you have to be sitting in Munich to be part of a headquarter team. And increasingly we start to build resources in other markets where competencies exist.

Jeff Pedowitz:

We see that a lot with customers when the first thing a center of excellence has to all be physically in one place. Not really, I mean, you’re just organizing commonalities, observe, have content in one location, you get a product marketing and another, you could have more common. The third, it just depends upon what kind of resources you get access to.

Greg Gibbons:

Yeah, that’s exactly right. I guess it’s just part of the changing internal model. Know it used to be pretty hierarchical. It used to be, they’re all roads to headquarters, which I guess from a governance point of view, it still does. But when it comes to the day to day operations and you know, the digital world we live in, you can have resources wherever you’d wherever you need them. And as I said, it’s, there’s a lot to be offered from certain markets, for instance, in the marketing and communications game. You know, I think there’s a lot happening here in the U S it’s a very forward thinking market people. Aren’t scared to try things. We move pretty quickly. And so we increasingly driving a lot from here. That’s not to say we don’t push things out of other markets. Of course we do. But the big trend is to go to the us as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So for a company like yours is one of the challenges being nimble, you know, especially in today’s technological age. And how do you do that?

Greg Gibbons:

It is, it is for sure being noble. And I’m sure we’re not the only one with a challenge. You know, we’re we’re I guess a very proud strong company. That’s 170 years old, you know, so we’ve got a strong and long heritage. We’re pretty complex from a metrics point of view. So it’s often the key chef turning the big tanker. You know, you could have an aspiration to actually make the move, to make the turn into something that sometimes takes some time. But I think our global leadership have been pretty dynamic over the last years in a setting, of course, trying to reorientate the organization. It’s all about you know, driving a strategy of digitalization. I know potentially that’s a little bit of a cliche, but in our space, that’s, that’s rarely true. You know, traditionally engineers, you know, makers of hardware, we’ve got some fantastic domain knowledge across those businesses that I briefly mentioned, but what we’re trying to do now is digitalize our business walls, you know, and then the value we can offer to our customers is increasing tremendously in those faults.

So a lot of the partnerships, you see a lot of the mergers and acquisitions we’re engaging in are in the digital software space, and that comes with a changing mentality. So it’s about, you know, driving that change internally. We love to use the word at job. Like it’s easy to say harder to do sometimes, but I guess you’ve got to keep pushing it. You have to keep driving the agenda. Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you fall back on your own legs, but I think if you push it hard and you try hard, you keep singing from the same hymn sheet, eventually you make progress.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So I’m just curious, what’s your approach? Could you play to technology? How, how, what are you investing in to that realization?

Greg Gibbons:

Yeah, so of course there’s all, you know, we’re off of discussion on our business side, transforming those models. But if I, if I bring it back to what we’re doing on the marketing side sure. You know, that the whole issue of marketing technology is becoming critically for us. One of the challenges we have within Siemens has been given the diverse nature of all businesses, marketing per se, in the traditional sense sales that’s all decentralized in those businesses. So each business has a slightly different view on what the marketing is, what falls under that heading we’re the marketing communications team, as I said, we’re bundled. So we offer a service to all of those divisions. And so we have to look for technology that can scale across those environments. So, you know, over the last year we’ve been looking heavily at the marketing automation space the data management space, we’re now starting to invest quite heavily on the analytics side because our whole drive is to be far more customer centric.

You know, as, as a big powerful organization, it’s obviously quite tempting to be very inside, out to your approach. And we’ve got very diverse technology portfolio and lots of products, lots of product managers. It’s easy to fall back on that and want to sell products costs. We have to do that, but I think we have to lift the conversation. One neighbor that and, and drive value, driven conversations with our customers based on their needs. And in order to do that, we need better customer insights. So I think the end of the tech suite is playing a far greater role. We also have the aspiration to grow there. You were more and those there’s reporting.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s interesting that you mention that because while people are trying to say, they want to be customer centric, they want to deliver better customer experience. But then what does that mean? So I’m just curious. What kinds of questions are you asking me and what kind of data insights are you trying to get from your customers that you were not necessarily getting a couple of years ago?

Greg Gibbons:

Well, I think, I think you’re right. I mean, again, everyone’s talking about that at the moment, but it’s how you actually make it happen. And to answer that one, I probably wouldn’t look to technology. I probably want to process you know, and there’s this, there’s some well known phrase that sometimes attributed to Lincoln, or I hear it maybe incorrectly. So, but it’s something like if I did ask to cut down a tree and spend six hours sharpening my ax and that sort of encapsulates what we’re trying to do, which is more work on the front end. So before we taking something to market, you know, message, campaign platform, whatever it might be, we’re doing a lot of work upfront working with sales and marketing to understand the customer, understand the buying center. 

So, you know, investing heavily in things like personas, you know, doing a lot of the content mapping work to understand the customer journey. And only once you’ve done that preparation are we going out there with our campaigns and push it into market? And again, that’s a transition. I’m not saying we get that right across the board. We have some success stories here and there, but it’s something that we’re looking to accelerate. And then I think that’s where that feedback comes back in because when you’re running your campaigns and they’re fairly well orchestrated basically on a journey, which is based on certain needs, I think you’re to track, you know, how things are progressing, what the level of engagements are, what the level of conversions are. And you’re actually able to adjust what you’re doing almost in real time. So I think for me, it’s almost more processed than it is technology technology is the enabler, but you need the right mindset and strategy upfront to get a drive.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So are you I guess whether you were being measured on, do you know the chemical, is that changing now because your business is changing?

Greg Gibbons:

It is changing. It really is. So I would say for a long time out of our function and bear in mind again, what I said about marketing sitting in the business and we’re more marketing communications, but I think for a long time, a lot of the metrics that we were measured on written at the top of the funnel. So it was around, you know, awareness, familiarity, you know, getting towards the consideration level, but more and more NABI moving closer to our business. And we are a shared service function that they pay for us. We have to deliver value. And we try not to look at you know, brand and business as being mutually exclusive. They’re wanting the same thing, you know, so the work we’re doing at the top of the funnel on the brand side is really providing the air cover for the things that we want to sell a few levels down.

It’s, it’s creating awareness and interest around a theme, we’re opening a door and then we try to get entrenched into a conversation with a prospect or an existing customer. And so I think the metrics are changing a little bit, you know, more and more we’re talking, not just about what we’re doing on the awareness side, but we’re looking at things like conversion. We’re looking at things like marketing, qualified leads, sales accepted leads, and ultimately business Wong. So we’ve, we’ve even got some examples of really pretty impressive closed loop reporting. I would say when we can drill it down from inquiry right down to business, one again, it’s early days there it’s working in some areas and we’d have to scale it up, but yet those metrics are changing,

Jeff Pedowitz:

It takes a lot of work. So how do you balance that? Because I want to conversations I have a lot with, with executives is they’re under pressure to change. They want to change, and they want to know if they change fast. Is there such a thing as changing the culture, especially in a company or size that fast, or is it more about changing incrementally and getting key stakeholders in over time? Or how do you balance that out?

Greg Gibbons:

I think I have to say there is, you know, that you can say, this is the way we’re going to do it. And overnight it works that way, but that’s, that’s obviously not the case. You know, I think you do need a strong senior vision that needs to be installed in the organization. And there needs to be some sort of roadmap and acceptance that this is where we are today. This is where we aspire to be somewhere in the future, but also a recognition that it’s not going to happen overnight. And, and then it’s looking for, you know, a guiding coalition that can help it, help that happen across all levels or the organization. And I already think quick wins and demonstrating those quick wins have been important.

The other thing we grappled with not extensively is this is this idea of, of foster failure. Also that term that’s being thrown around a lot, but I think it’s true, you know, in this, in this digital role. And as we try to transform business models, one has to be willing to innovate and to experiment to see how it goes. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but then you need to learn from that and move on.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. I think that’s another challenge for companies. People are reticent to do that because they’re so worried you’re going to get judged for it. And they don’t want to admit that they actually made a mistake. And I guess my viewpoint is you’re not really failing if the whole intent is continuous improvement and itself. You’re not pushing the envelope a little bit. I think, what do you do?

Greg Gibbons:

Yeah, that’s right. I love to say myself, but I also don’t like to fret. So I mean, it really is a mental adjustment you have to make, and maybe there were feathers a little bit too strong. I want you to think of a different term, but it’s really learning from whatever programs you’re putting in place. And sometimes they don’t hit the targets that you aspire to, but you’re getting something out of it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

We like to say if you fell flat on your face, that’s good because at least you’re moving forward. So you’ve seen a lot of change as you moved up through the ranks. And then I know you just recently got more responsibilities so congratulations. What advice would you give to your fellow marketing executives out there?

Greg Gibbons:

Well, it’s a good question. You know, I guess what’s, I’m certainly relatively well over the years is trying to be a generalist. It’s some people don’t like that term, but I think, you know, I think many people will relate to this. The more senior you get, the more that stands you in good stead. I think you need experience across the mix across the spectrum. I think you, it’s always an advantage to have, you know, global experience in different markets. So you’ve not to work across cultures. I don’t need to be the experts on all these things. I I’m certainly not the demand generation expert. I’m not the MarTech expert, but there are people in my team who know those things really well. And I know enough of them to understand, but to connect the dots with the strategy and keep the ship moving forward. So I guess those generalist skill sets being able to work across boundaries effectively within teams, but also across culturally across across the country. I think those are the things that, that have been the most important for me to serve in a big global company.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, you can definitely see the progress. It’s great watching all of your accomplishments and everything you’ve been doing. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Greg Gibbons:

Sure. Pleasure. Thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Alright, thank you.

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