Adapt To Help More, Not Sell More—And 4 Other Musts for Marketers

Marketing is always in a state of evolution. And that evolution is even more accelerated when the industry being marketed is also undergoing transformative disruption. No matter what industry you work in, staying ahead of the curve requires that you not only closely follow how technology and marketing strategy are evolving, but also that you understand how the changes impact your customers. That’s how you ensure that you can be a good partner who can offer invaluable guidance no matter what happens.

As Lisa Campbell, CMO at Autodesk, says, “You can either be disrupted, or be a disruptor.”

Being the CMO of a company that Forbes recently recommended as an astute stock buy isn’t the only role Lisa plays. She’s also Chairman of the Board at the Autodesk Foundation, and an independent board member at Dropbox.

“You can either be disrupted, or be a disruptor.”

Lisa’s interest in the future of marketing is heightened by the fact that Autodesk serves manufacturing and construction industries, which are themselves undergoing major transformation. Each of the core industries—AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction), Design & Manufacturing, and Media & Entertainment—have evolved to a point where they would be almost unrecognizable from what they were only a couple decades ago. This isn’t, as they say, your father’s manufacturing and construction.

I had the chance to speak with Lisa for our new BUILDing To Boss podcast, and she shared what she thinks lies ahead for marketing. Our conversation covered a lot of territory, but five themes stood out.

1. Adapt to help more, not sell more

If there’s one thing 2020 taught us, it’s that being able to adapt to unexpected (and unprecedented!) situations is critical to both short- and long-term success. Like everyone else, Lisa experienced the complete and total upheaval that was (and is) COVID-19.

“At first, things just came almost to a standstill,” she said. “But over time we all had to figure out how to operate in what I call the ‘future of work’ scenario.” Lisa and her team evolved quickly and adapted to meet the challenges. She expects that some of what they learned will continue to be in play after things get back to “normal.”

In addition to supporting her own team through the transition to remote work, Lisa also focused on how to help her construction and manufacturing customers, many of whom do not have the option to work from home. These folks turned to Autodesk for help in designing and laying out safer work environments.

Lisa also had to pivot her go-to-market strategy. “There was no aggressive marketing,” she explained. “You had to be empathetic, not tone deaf. We completely changed our approach to focus on what we could do to help our customers and their customers.”

Autodesk’s solution included developing a COVID-19 resource site for customers, providing access to free trial software, and allowing customers to use software commercially for 90 days (a previously unheard of offer).

The point is that effective adaptability isn’t just change for change’s sake. It’s change for the sake of supporting your customers and other people in your community.

2. Diverse teams are just better

Research tells us again and again that diversity has a direct and positive effect on bottom-line business results. When an organization commits to meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion work that impacts their leadership, board, and employee teams, they’re rewarded with higher excellence, greater innovation, and better overall outcomes.

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, Lisa is especially interested in seeing more women break into the manufacturing and construction industry. She identified three keys to making this dream a reality:

  • Awareness: “We have to start at a very young age,” she said. “We work to appear to girls in kindergarten to get them excited about STEM. We want them to understand how the industries have changed and believe they can be successful in them.”
  • Accessibility: “Once a girl gets excited about programming a robot that functions on a construction site, we need to make sure they can access that curriculum,” Lisa said, highlighting the importance of making classes, certifications, training, etc. more widely available to a bigger audience.
  • Affordability: Lisa wrapped up, “And once you have awareness and accessibility, you need to make sure the education is affordable and within reach.” She suggested that this will take a concerted collaboration between the government, industry, and education sectors.

3. Marketers must embrace data

No one would be surprised to hear that data will continue to play a more central role in all kinds of marketing, but it’s still worth calling out Lisa’s vision in this area.

“Automations and technology are going to continue to disrupt the marketing function,” she said. “Marketers are going to have to become more and more data savvy, and leverage machine learning and AI. Computers will essentially become another marketer in the room.”

Lisa anticipates that much of the future technology will focus on the key areas of prediction and personalization.

4. Trust is everything

And with all that increased focus on data comes an increased focus on trust.

“Trust will make or break a brand in the future. Because if you want customers to give you their data, they have to trust you,” Lisa told me.

And the simple truth is that accessing customer data and online behavior is critical to enabling better personalization, experiences, and engagement.

5. Find your purpose

When I asked Lisa what gets her up and excited every day, she said it’s all about knowing she’s helping to solve important problems within her industry and helping her customers. “We’re a partner helping our customers solve things that impact the environment, social equity, and generally make the world a better place,” she said.

Lisa first articulated her personal rally cry to “make a difference” at a workshop 20 years ago. And she continues to work each day to make a difference for the people on her team, her business, her customers, and—ultimately—the world.

To hear more about Lisa’s experience, passions, and predictions, listen to the episode below. She shared some real-life observations and tips for:

  • Balancing being a full-time operator with sitting on two boards
  • Running a successful board mentoring
  • Understanding the difference between mentors and advocates (and why you need both)
  • Maintaining your confidence no matter what

Don’t miss an episode of BUILDing To Boss

Join OpenView’s Khira Gabliani, Kaitlyn Henry, and Casey Renner for honest conversations with exceptional women leaders who have built product-led growth companies that changed the way we work. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts , Spotify, or listen on our website.

Casey Renner
Casey Renner
Partner at OpenView

Casey leads the end-to-end strategy & programming for OpenView’s network of industry experts, advisors & corporate partners. partners. Her role is focused on creating connections between founders & their teams and the partners, advisors, board members & events they need to reach their goals. Additionally, she manages the OpenView portfolio peer networks and hosts the #WeeklyWalk series.
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