Rasmus Skjoldan is CMO at Magnolia. In this ‘day in the life’ interview he reveals why he thinks execs cover themselves in myriad KPIs, how he does competitor research on planes, and why he loves ultra-niche marketing.
Let’s find out more…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Rasmus Skjoldan: I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at Magnolia, an international vendor producing digital experience & content management software for enterprises.
I’m responsible for our global marketing, which includes a lot of different areas such as marketing strategy, product marketing, demand generation, brand, product management, analyst relations and public relations.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Rasmus Skjoldan: Marketing is a separate department and I report to the CEO, Tim Brown. I work closely with both the central marketing team, our regional marketers and the product management team.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Rasmus Skjoldan: To me, there are three essential and critical skills.
One is the ability to spot, in an ocean of possible options, those critical initiatives that will make the biggest difference.
Second is to be uncompromising in providing focus to your organisation. As a company grows, ways of doing business expand and you will find yourself lacking organisational punch one day if it gets too scattered. The focus should be on directing company resources towards the critical options that will make a difference.
Lastly, as a CMO, you simply need to be fairly good at a hundred different things that each has its own area of specialisation — being able to coordinate a lot of different areas to achieve coherence is a key skill in itself.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Rasmus Skjoldan: I travel around 80-90 days out of the year, so a lot of my time is spent either at our HQ in Basel or meeting customers, partners or analysts on site — this is mostly in the US and Europe. When I’m working from home in Copenhagen, my days contain a pretty much endless stream of video conferencing. Regardless of whether it’s on site or via conferencing, spending a lot of time with people on my teams is pivotal.
Like many other CMOs, though, my days are exceptionally varied, and I’ll have to change topics and levels many times a day — from strategy work to lead gen planning, to reviewing research data or checking the latest copy of a new landing page. I enjoy working in this way and love when I see disparate initiatives well-coordinated. It’s great when all the wide-ranging initiatives touch each other and add value to one another, that confirms that my work really makes sense.
Come afternoon, I’ll often do a bunch of remote US meetings with our stateside team or with US partners or analysts. It’s never a short day.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Rasmus Skjoldan: Quality has got to win. And it does at Magnolia. That’s what I love the most about this job. Every time we’re able to achieve the highest level of quality possible with the brain power and number of hands we have, that’s a profound occurrence to me. I come from a background of classical music and carry that almost ridiculous appetite for quality with me. When I see us doing something to near-perfection, I’m happy—and instantly start thinking about how to up the quality further.
When we can’t reach a high quality of execution or effectiveness, that’s a bad day for me.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Rasmus Skjoldan: I want our marketing department to take as clear responsibility as possible and go as deep down the marketing funnel as possible. I’m not a fan of execs covering themselves in myriad KPIs, as this always leaves them with options to explain why performance dropped. I’m also not a fan of marketing only focusing on marketing goals. We have to bring revenue and reach a number of long-term goals.
Another critical goal I have is to drastically increase the brand awareness of Magnolia. I invest a lot in programs designed to make us better known across all the regions of the world we operate in.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Rasmus Skjoldan: One of my favourite tools that I use for software research is something as straightforward as YouTube. I download a lot of clips of competitors or other martech vendors presenting new versions of their products and then watch it all when I’m flying. It’s really exciting to see where other innovative companies are going.
I’m naturally also very excited about our own product, Magnolia, in its version 6. I was very involved in the UX and UI planning and have a deep passion for how to design scalable software. I pull a lot of principles in from master planning in architecture as it comes with extremely helpful ideas and frameworks for how to design for the unknown and allow others to extend your software.
How did you end up at Magnolia, and where might you go from here?
Rasmus Skjoldan: For several years, every time I met one of the two Magnolia founders around Europe, he’d poke at me to see if the timing was right for me to join the company. Then suddenly, a change in my last job made the stars line up and the timing was great.
I’ll soon been with the company for four years and am completely thrilled by the challenge. My preference is to stay for a long time. It’s what I’ve done in my past too. Stay long enough to make a considerable difference. If I’m hiring someone with a CV that shows that they’ve changed jobs every 14 months for 5 years, it’s never a good sign for me.
Which campaigns / experiences have impressed you lately?
Rasmus Skjoldan: I love ultra-niche marketing. The clarity of brand and storytelling coming out of sdrtraveller.com is thoroughly fascinating. It’s such a niche product line-up and they’re masterful at telling their stories. The company is an offspring of the research company studiodradiodurans.com and their customer support will proudly respond that they’re late to answer due to riding around rural Afghanistan. It immediately pulls you into a community of explorers.
One of its products promise to be “Ideal for the discreet, comfortable carry of up to US$1 Million”. That sort of creative twist can be applied to more products than one would think. But it takes true creativity and deep understanding of customer desires to get there. If you look at how SDR Traveller focus their imagery and stories around actual traveling to remote parts of the world—and you’ll know how world-class niche marketing is done.
It’s all about the adventure. I have used archetypal branding a lot in my past and this is a great example of how to leverage that. In the same category, Vollebak is another first-class brand with their wonderfully unbalanced stories.
What advice would you give to a greenhorn marketer in 2019?
Rasmus Skjoldan: Get in touch with your heroes. More often than not, it is possible to reach people you admire. Buy them a coffee or get on a call. I’ve done that many times, even paying them to have coffee with me while I harvest every piece of insight and experience I can. Sometimes it even forms long-lasting connections.