Snowflake CMO Denise Persson on What B2B Marketers Can Learn From Maya Angelou and the Right Data

Editor’s note: This interview is part of Mission North’s “Marketing Risks Worth Taking” series, an ongoing forum with marketing leaders who are sharing their perspectives about adapting to a new reality. 

Snowflake CMO Denise Persson has been a marketing lead for more than two decades, helping build notable B2B brands such as ON24 and Google-owned Apigee. These days, like all of her industry peers, the Sweden native has been steering her team through COVID-19 while ensuring Snowflake customers continue to benefit from the cloud data platform.

Denise and Snowflake’s executive team have responded to the crisis by offering free public COVID-19 data in a partnership with Starschema, creating a platform now being used by the likes of Nasdaq, Blackstone, Square, Scripps Health and ThoughtSpot. Snowflake also established dedicated teams for overseeing security, engineering, IT, and customer support to make sure customers get continued service. 

At the same time, we wanted to learn more from Denise through her branding lens and got together with her for the ninth edition of Dispatch’s ongoing conversational series with the best and brightest in marketing. Our Q&A, below, has been edited for length.

What should be a top priority for marketing during times like these?

Maya Angelou’s advice and famous quote is more important than ever. “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

In B2B, all relationships start with building trust. Right now, this is a critical differentiator. Customers want to buy from a true partner, someone who’s not only providing the best product, but also valuable advice and educational content. 

As a CMO, what kind of external data are you most frequently consulting? 

We’re benchmarking our demand generation metrics against similar companies to identify areas for optimization. We track our share of voice on a weekly basis.

Adaptability is truly the new superpower today.

We also just recently completed our annual customer experience survey which measures the satisfaction of every touchpoint our customers have.

Are you monitoring and prioritizing the same metrics for success now as you were before the pandemic? 

Our most important metric is pipeline growth. That hasn’t changed during the pandemic. But given that everything is virtual now, we’re looking at specific engagement metrics to make sure customers are truly consuming our content. 

Are there any B2B brands you admire for how they have adapted during the pandemic?

I’m mostly excited about how small consumer businesses have adapted. They have had the hardest time to survive right now. Adaptability is truly the new superpower today. I’m impressed with how local restaurants and stores have innovated to cater to the changing needs of their customers, and the heroic work of all essential workers. 

Do you have any counterintuitive advice for B2B marketers as they navigate what’s next?

Data is what is going to help all marketers adapt and optimize their marketing strategies and investments at this time. Make sure you have the right data infrastructure and analysts who can derive real insight from your data. Also, make sure, as always, that you’re in 100% alignment with your sales organization.