CMO Insights – Steve Farnsworth, CMO The Steveology Group

February 14, 2017

Steve Farnsworth, CMO at The Steveology Group, shared his thoughts on the changing role of marketers in a recent video interview with Jeff Pedowitz. Jeff asked if marketing executives were changing how they organized their teams around content. Steve replied: “Not yet, unfortunately, not as much as I think will happen. When you look at small organizations doing content, while they have the flexibility and agility to do it, they don’t tend to have the skill sets, maturity or the bandwidth to pull it all together. In the big organizations they tend to fall into this thing where they have experts; they hired experts in their fields. And so the PR person tends to focus on the PR stuff, and the social media person focuses on the social media stuff and so on. Even the editor who does a lot of the content isn’t tying what they do, based on the analytics, into the revenue goals. So its not quite coming together yet and I think its a challenge. You are going to see more flat organizations, and organizations that are less siloed because everybody is being judged on the same outcome and being forced to work more in groups. We still have a long ways to go in blending the art and science of marketing.”

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Good morning, and welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the video channel dedicated to thought leadership from the world’s top marketing executives and thought leaders. I am your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today’s guest is Steve Farnsworth. Steve has over 14 years as a Senior Marketing Executive. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer of the @Steveology Group, the content marketing for Demand Generation agency-serving, high-tech B2B organizations. Steve has worked with everyone, from funded startups, midsize and large companies. He’s worked with them to develop and implement multimedia content marketing programs that increase inbound leads and grow brand reputation. These programs integrate into existing activities and conform a foundation to launch new content programs. They are strategically designed to generate brand awareness, establish thought leadership and build customer loyalty. Steve has been everywhere: moderating panels, speaking, managing industry events. He’s worked with some of the world’s greatest brands, Google Intel, PayPal, Yahoo, Cisco, Adobe, electronic arts, HP SAP, Wells Fargo, Ted applied materials, Symantec Net App, and Stanford on brand social digital and content marketing. Steve, we’re thrilled to have you on the show. Thank you.

Steve Farnsworth:

Thanks Jeff.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So, first question: Content of course, has been around forever and, and marketing, but how is the role of content changing as it relates to demand generation in this modern digital medium?

Steve Farnsworth:

So it’s, it’s a couple pieces to that. So back in my early days, I started Mark comm and then ideation back. This is even prior to that as part of the internet being in any way really related for lettering information to the masses. And at that point, you know, public relations was very powerful for me because you learn how to influence the conversation about your product, your product category, or the way you should be saying, if you provide a good argument, good information. And so it was a public relations person. I mean, that would look like creating white papers. I can use cases around that arranging for certain issue to speak on that topic. And so it was the earliest part of providing useful information. People were buying stuff. And so that was once I suppose, but now we’re in a place where people sit behind a computer and they’d have to go someplace or read this long paper. They have to order it somehow get mailed to them or get a napper to sit down in front of the kids.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. So as the marketer’s role is evolving, what kind of skills do today’s marketers need related to content that are different from earlier years?

Steve Farnsworth:

Yeah. I think the modern marketer for content, and even beyond that, I think the content marketer needs same kind of skills others necessarily. Tickled one is actually a better goals is better measurement, better goals should have always been a case of we’re pretty bad about that at that one of the things that I work with clients and they’ll come in and go, we have this goal. I go, well, you know, is that goal, you know, smart, you know, is it specific, is it measurable? Is it aligned with your departmental or organizational goals? Is it, is it realistic? Do you have the resources to be able to accomplish it? And the last one is at time boundaries is, you know, is it Texas people don’t always have that focus on goals where they having and they often pick goals that aren’t really meaningful.

Like, well, we want to get more followers on for X, Y, Z, or something like that. And so going in goals that goals and mission are really important because you need to be able to understand where you can deliver the content and why. And so that’s why I think analytics is just, you need to know analytics. I mean, I think almost every marketer should at least or most, or should at least know how to create a Google analytics report and this stuff is free. It goes learn sort of free. And I think that you know, people like HubSpot had certain education stuff, I’m sure with Eloqua and Marketo do too, we can learn basic concepts of marketing automation. She totally understands what is an MQL marketing qualified lead. When does that become a Sasquatch by SQL SalesLoft philosophy, how fast it goes to the system. These are all these important concepts that I think you need understand that needed to have that 20,000 line, which I think comes to you need to have a marketing says on the same page connecting it back, how they’re getting content and what that content is actually cheap. And then recording that,

Jeff Pedowitz:

That that’s, that’s a great input. So as it relates to organizing and staffing, are you seeing changes there? So the skills are growing and changing, but our marketing executives changing how they’re organizing their teams related to content.

Steve Farnsworth:

Not yet. There’s, there’s unfortunately not as much as I think will happen. When you look at organizations, smaller organizations doing content, while they have the flexibility and agility to do it, they don’t have they don’t tend to have the skill sets or maturity or just in the band or the resources to really kind of pull it together. And as you get to bigger organizations, they tend to fall into these things where they’re focused on you have experts and start hiring experts in their field. And so the PR person comes even if they all get together, that PR person tends to focus on the PR stuff. And the social media person focuses on them, social media stuff, and the demand gen and so on. And so you have this editor editor who who does a lot of the content. It really isn’t tying with.

They do based on Ana analytics, get tied to revenue goals. So it’s not quite coming together. I think it’s a challenge. There are people like you know, shotgun Wolf the CMO from our SEO of mine jet and I’m on dating Mozilla. And he thought, you know, he’s talked extensively about reinventing the way the organization works. I think that if you look at some of those, those models going to see more flat organizations and organizations that are less silent, because everybody’s being judged at the same thing and forced to work in the more in groups, as opposed to kind of, as you know, Susie’s over there in her office and everything Bob’s over there is that opportunity. That should be a great restaurant, but there’s still a surprise, even though we’re passing the hype cycle part of the content marketing part where now it becomes just kind of standard. Most of us still not making that shift from traditional marketing when back when marketing was from the black arts, right? So this modern idea of using measurement and testing ideas, and also still make sure there’s creativity involved in those technical illness. It’s not just driven by numbers and it comes as feedback loop, but we still have a long ways to go.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Indeed. So when you mentioned metrics, what kind of metrics should a modern marketing organization be able to achieve if they’re using content properly?

Steve Farnsworth:

What well, what kind of metrics? Well what should it be? The KPIs or the benefit metrics?

Jeff Pedowitz:

What type of metrics and outcomes are associated with a good content strategy?

Steve Farnsworth:

So then the caveat is I’m a consultant. So the answer is, it depends, but the KPIs are going to tend to be well, it’s good to collect the kind of vanity metric it’s about followers and shares and all that kind of stuff. Share something really. It’s like a lot of people who are accessing by phone people don’t share some stuff that they read on their mobile devices. And so those aren’t very helpful. So what you need, what people need to do is to pick KPI or metric that, that ideally metric would be closed business. That is really hard to do. You should track close to business leads in back to close business, but connecting the dots is difficult. So the KPIs are, you really want to look at are each part of funnel, do you, you know, what are the, what are, how many people are downloading this high?

And then when they download these things, what else are they downloading? And are you doing the things that need that information with peace? So all into a chain, I’ll just close business, but since you can’t connect it, what you want as a proxy metric. And that is what is something that people do that 85% of the time or whatever that number is, they’re going to do business with you. So maybe it might be a price sheet. It could be a demo. It could be a free trial offer. It could be talking to a sales rep. And so once you have those kinds of sales proxies, then you can start looking at how you connect the KPIs to increase those numbers in terms of what people achieve. The reality is getting and getting eyeballs is super expensive and getting the right Paul right eyeballs are, are almost impossible unless you are paddle full level of activities you can do.

You can do a marketing activity focus just on straight lead generation. That means somebody is going to sign up and says, I’m interested in buying your your product. The scary reality for marketers is that there’s been a couple different studies. It depends on kind of who you look up. People went by the time somebody raises their hand, somebody in marketing, they have completed 85 per cent of their marketing journey, their purchase journey, 85% along the way before they ever talked to somebody and raise your hand saying, I I’d like to talk to them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

68% was the metric, the venues for the last few years. So it’s even more now, but that there, yeah,

Steve Farnsworth:

I’ve heard 60%. I, when I talk to people, but that’s not the number that, that people felt I saw, I read a study about a year ago. They had the 83%, which like the number and I’ve actually been able to, and I’ve got to find it again, but that’s probably closer to the process because you can think about all the things you can get this exception. It would be nice, but I think that’s the old days. I really think that that’s what people used to do. But now I can actually come aware of the product. I can actually go look at boards and review places. I can, I can query folks. I can look, I can search social media. I can gamble your stuff and whatever they do that before you’re over my shoulder calling you today. Absolutely. So it is a much higher than when we think of it.

So since it’s that way, you need to have enough pieces along the funnel to lower your cost. Really. Cause if you’re paying, I saw one study and it was the four large companies, the average li cost closely cost like $129. And when you actually had a full content marketing program, the content marketing lead came down to, it came in about $75 a week. And so that, that is those are always gonna be a little different depending on the industry you’re in and what you’re doing, but that was sort of 26 months steady time. And so that, that tells you that there’s a need to had a little bit of everything and the marketing and the marketing process to, to bring down your total costs.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So, Steve, what types of technology are you seeing that are helping marketers source develop, manage, measure different kinds of content through the whole process?

Steve Farnsworth:

You know, it’s, that’s a very complicated question. It doesn’t have one answer anymore because there’s so many pieces of software we’re getting into the consequences only started really floating around the last couple of years, which is marketing technology stacks, the collection of software you use to through the entire marketing process. And, and it’s just, it’s incredible. If you, you know, from the early things you have, you know, from a Google ad words to social or sprout social or Mazda SDO, early stuff, you have Salesforce or Pardot, crazies and optimizing for helping with conversion that nursing staff like advocating for remarketing ad roll and Google ad words, and like Dan Salesforce you know, and then obviously for like webinar, we still go on and live MAs and Meltwater those kinds of things. So it’s, it’s, you know, those are just, there’s more than just HubSpot.

There’s all these different players in that. You know, what I just went through is a list of a marketing stack. Wasn’t a complete list of merchant for one company that I know, and I know that, you know, so there isn’t one answer anymore. It’s just, there’s just tons of stuff. And so what’s really going to be important. I think this is, is, is that it, people are great. God bless them, but their job is very specific to get around making stuff work. It’s not necessarily making more marketing work. And so marketers need to step up and be more technical. I think all marketers need to understand the interesting, how to use Google analytics. It’s free to go, you get there and all that kind of stuff. You should be comfortable and just working with these technologies. But it’s just, it’s going to get more complex, especially as different people.

Like some people will focus on each phase of the funnel. So you have, you know, you have a different application of marketing technologies that support phases along the sales funnel. You have other businesses that focused on just one final goal in there. They don’t care. Anything else. Everything is focused on one thing and there’s several others and these are radically different approaches to the way unit, what software you’re going to use. So it’s a, it’s an interesting time. And, and I, I’m glad to be a marketer. I’m, I’m glad that I’m come up in the days of, you know, our marketing there. It was a black art, and now that it’s technology it’s, I find it exciting. I learned the power of data when I first did 20 years ago, first time we did direct mail and, and I had an opportunity to actually it’s like 20, 20 years ago my first day direct mail and I could test out headlines. I can test offers. Like I see what works. There was no longer this long conversation about people like, well, you know, when I get mail at home, I do this thing or whatever, and now the client goes, I want to use this headline go. That’s awesome. Let’s test that out. Now. I’m just gonna put these other ones, I think probably gonna work better. And so, you know, that’s a, that’s a a big shift. That’s a big check.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So who’s doing it well. Can you think of some examples where clients are really doing a great job with their content?

Steve Farnsworth:

Do we have great to have the content, you know, there, there are there are some that are doing better jobs doing it. I mean, like GE has done a really good job, I think PG, which is a R R a power company. So, you know, making, you know, using content around their, their drivers and who the people are, if you’re looking right the brand. So people like that need to be has been somewhat more challenge. And I think it has to do with a lot of companies are still, you’re a consumer company. You know, the consumer is, is the person in charge need to be company because, you know, it tends to be group sales. You know, they’re like 5.4 decision makers in every B2B sale that it’s not one person. They don’t tend to think of these as human beings.


And so they create these this content, which is really, they talk about what they sell, not about what they know. And when you go online, you want it. If you’re going to buy 10,000 or a hundred thousand or a million dollars of software or goods, it that’s your job. Your job is online. Your livelihood is on a job. If you make a bad decision. So people are researching the hell out of this stuff, and companies are still like very me-focused, here’s what we think. Here’s what I’m about is supposed to like, Hey, you know what? We know, we know we understand your pain, so let’s give you some, some tools to help you do better in your job and educate you about the space. So you make an informed decision because we all have those BS meters. We know that when we read a prayer, knowing if anybody ever read a Presley, really you read and go, wait, what is this?


That no one reads that of. So we know that front room CVS, we know when people are straightforward and it’s logical, it’s simple, it’s clean and it’s engaging, right? And you want to read this thing because it’s not authentic. Tell me there’s still especially to be compensated for your time. A lot of the content. So a lot of content is created by when I talk to CMOs, the had a great and great vision, what they want, but when you get that in line, so I’m just going to come up with titles for the blog or where the company they’re doing. They sit down in a room and they generate ideas yeah. In a black box. And that can’t happen. That’s what normally happens. You need to go out and talk to customers. You need to go on a customer right along to sales and you take sales to the lunch.

You need to really be out there. What are these people asking? What do they really want to know? And then you need to create content back. And that’s just, that piece is still from marketers. You know, people are still in that, Hey, let’s go do, let’s go do a white paper done. Weicker was done. Ah, let’s do an ebook. Then we’re done. You know, and it’s just, let’s take this titles out. Let’s do this big project. And, and they’re not going back and finding out who we’re really talking to, what do they really want to know about? And how do we ducktail our domain expertise internally and externally with their needs to have that conversation.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Great, great advice. So, in closing, what tips would you give for today’s executive? That’s trying to figure out how to get started with their content approach.

Steve Farnsworth:

You know when I sit down with I sit down with customers, I think that it’s the most powerful to do is if I ask somebody smart, well-paid bright people who went to who have more degrees than I’ve ever had. And, and sometimes they go, well, can you tell me about your customer? They’ll give you some kind of what they think kind of a high level. You know, our customers are X, Y, and Z at a high level, but when you go, you know, let’s actually dig into that, you know, for this product line, let’s look at the names, titles, industries, and companies, and any of the data we’ll know for the last hundred sales that you’ve made for this product. And let’s find out where those came from. I mean, you look at that, that’s a, it’s a, it takes time. It takes some forensics is going to take you a week to probably pull that data together.

There’s medical plan on doing that. But when you look at that, that answer, what you find out is, is radically different than sitting in an office going well, you know, we have it executives and such, you know, fortune 300 companies or something like that. When you actually sit down and look at the real data, it tells you those real people are, and you don’t want to go and find new people or do something different. Look at where the core where some of that data coalesces and figured out if he had two or three groups that buy this product, I need to go learn about those people and what their pain points are, what they really doing. And if you do that, if you really sit down and you look at the last hundred customers for any given services, product area, and you, and you really know who are they, what do they do? 

What are the, you know, did they raise their hand themselves? Or did they have a boss that told them to write, you know, to go out and find that information? So what are some motivations for contact making first contact? How did they make first contact and all those types of things in industry. When we put that all on paper, and you can do this on a grid, it’s going to tell you something about those, those groups. And that’s the thing that needs to happen. If you really wanna change organizations, if you have that data and you keep going back to and checking it, and then you use that data for all your content, for all your social, for everything, it’s going to change the way you do everything.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Awesome. Steve, thank you so much for all your insights this afternoon. I really appreciate it and wish you all the best in your continued for.

Steve Farnsworth:

I really appreciate the opportunity and I’m really excited about your new series. So I’m going to be watching. So thanks, Jeff.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Appreciate it. Have a good day.

In the video, Steve also discusses the changing role of modern marketers, what skills are required to make the shift from traditional marketer to modern marketer and shares his views on what a successful modern marketing organization should be and how using the funnel helps them to achieve their goals on their marketing journey.

About Steve Farnsworth

Steve has over 14 years as a senior marketing executive. He is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Steveology Group. A content marketing for demand generation agency serving high tech B2B organizations. Steve has worked with everyone from funded startups to midsize and large companies. He has worked with them to develop and implement multi-media marketing programs that increase inbound leads and grow brand reputations. These programs integrate into existing activities and can form a foundation to launch new content programs.

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