Q&A with Marketing Leaders: Joel Gaudeul, Chief Marketing Officer at Mention

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We’re back with another Q&A with Marketing Leaders, our interview series built to provide SaaS marketing leaders with the best insights and actionable tips on how to improve their marketing planning by learning from the best marketers in the industry.

In this edition, we spoke with Joel Gaudeul, CMO at Mention.

Mention is the leading tool for brand monitoring, social listening and reputation management for enterprises and agencies. From social media to PR mentions, user reviews to blog comments, leading brands, like Spotify, Lamborghini, MIT and Microsoft, choose Mention to track the most important conversations about their brand, competitors, and industry across the web.

Joel brings over 10 years of marketing leadership experience and has worked in a wide variety of industries, including SaaS, video gaming and fintech. Prior to joining Mention, he was CMO at Ulule.

Who had the biggest marketing influence on your career?

In my career, I was strongly influenced by Seth Godin.

I keep reading his blog and always find very useful nuggets of wisdom. He keeps reminding us to keep an eye on the ball and move past the noise around our activity as marketers. 

How has your role changed in the last few years?

Having moved into different startups, I see the scope of the role changing a lot in the mind of the different stakeholders, mostly reducing it to lead gen and short terms goals when the role is really the glue of the organization.

As a manager, I see more and more specialized profiles with changing expectations from millennials in the workplace and a complexified marketing stack with software that used to be niche expanding into wider and wider scopes. It becomes more and more difficult to build a lean team and a lean stack!

When it comes to marketing techniques, I feel that going back to basics is still valuable. When you focus on the fundamentals, understanding the target, working your value proposition, analyzing your data… the path becomes clearer.

What marketing channel you think is the most overrated in today’s marketing environment?

I still believe that digital marketing, especially paid advertising, is overrated.

People miss the point of all the long term and long-lasting marketing effort such as PR, SEO, Social Media Engagement (not just a 30s clickbait video, but more slow content and great reactivity to comment and DM).

How do you determine your marketing goals and align your team?

As a team, we determine our marketing goals by pulling insights from a few different areas. Overall, it’s quite a ‘from the ground-up’ approach, which is working really well for us. We have regular team meetings where we discuss our goals and align on objectives. The great thing is that our team includes expertise in content writing, automation, growth, product marketing, web development and public relations.

I often tell my team that two heads are better than one, and our diverse collective knowledge is what makes our teamwork better. All of our campaigns have a project manager, and each person on our team takes a turn wearing this hat.  I find it helps empower everyone to create synergies between the diverse talent we have. 

Each member develops a ‘road map’ of their expertise that helps us determine overarching themes that we can transition into team goals. These are what I bring to the company board meetings and align with other departments, thus developing key metrics that are built around growth within prospecting, our product, and the market.

Finally, we recently developed our vision through what I call a “Marketing Statement”. That’s basically our take on the company and product vision, the way we are building our narrative that goes beyond positioning the brand. This will be our north star, explaining what we are trying to achieve and linking all our activities together.

What does your marketing planning process look like?

Our marketing team plans and executes within two-week ‘sprints’ using Jira – a project management tool usually used by developers. During a sprint, each person on our team is able to define the tasks they need to get done that ladder up to our team’s larger objectives during that quarter. This method ensures we’re delivering our commitments, and increasing our collective efficiency. 

At Mention, our marketing team is humble but hungry and if we bite off more than we can chew during a sprint, I’m able to see the progression and forecast of our ability to deliver tasks. This projection helps me spot areas where my team may need help, allowing me to jump in and support! 

Our longer-term or quarterly planning process involves accurately documenting our team’s KPIs and metrics weekly. These numbers, along with my team’s feedback heavily influence our focus for the next few months. 

What is key for us is that we ensure our campaign rollout is in sync with the Sales team priorities, all while maintaining and improving our marketing processes. Focusing on improving marketing scalability is always a constant within our planning; our aim is to continue to build a stronger inbound flow and improve funnel metrics.

How do you measure success in your marketing channels?

Success is typically measured in terms of lead generation, cost of acquisition and conversion ratio, but also on the overall progress of brand awareness. We tend to compute the data we get on reach, influence, the number of mentions (yes, we are using our own tool :)) to see the overall impact of our efforts and see the long term impact of what we do. We think that although KPIs can be less tangible in terms of monetary conversions, they are still valuable long-term metrics and just as important as ones with a quicker return. 

For example, would you do PR if you were only looking at the number of leads attributed to a press release? It’s a bit like apples to oranges, KPIs must make sense with the action you’re performing. 

How often do you go back to review, evaluate and change your marketing plans?

The non-campaign related activities are planned and projected nearly two years in advance. However, with core priorities, we’re able to stay on track and have space for wiggle room to make changes or adaptations along the way.

When it comes to the campaigns, we work more on a quarterly base with an evaluation of the campaign on a day to day basis to be able to change targeting or strategy based on results. We typically assess the performance against CTR, conversion ration but also looking at a scoring system dedicated to the profile of our leads (company type, size, industry, job title and country) to spot trends.

In the first half of this year, we had major changes in our plans at least three times. But our strong vision and roadmap allowed the team to stay engaged!

What challenges have you experienced when building your marketing plans and strategies?

When joining Mention, my first challenge was to redefine what was Marketing’s role was within the organization. I’m a strong believer that Marketing is a support function that needs to help all the other teams (Sales but also Product, Customer Success, Talent, Tech). I’m also adamant that Marketing is everywhere meaning that we need to be involved in all the projects. 

We had to fight to reconquer the lost ground due to the race for getting more and more leads.

My plan had to cater to the short term needs of lead gen while working on this agenda and growing my team.

What is the most common marketing mistake that you see?

I see a lot of marketers trying wild stuff, bold moves, but without being able to replicate or scale. You get a bump in your leads metrics without having proven anything or being able to reproduce. Essentially you are building expectations that will never be fulfilled.

Do you have any advice for young marketing leaders looking to formulate a successful marketing plan for their companies?

Take the time to do your homework.

Auditing, analyzing and understanding cannot be postponed. Every action you will recommend might end up being scrutinized so you must have a set of hypothesis to back what you are trying to achieve and measure early on the results. No one will blame you for not achieving the target if your strategy was based on rational facts.

You can follow Joel on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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