Kelsey: [00:00:00] Well, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. Anna, we're super excited to have you on the show. I would love to learn a little bit more about you and what you do at national instruments.
Ana: I am very excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me. I am the chief marketing officer at ni national instruments, which is a company that is global and we help. It companies around the world test and measure their innovations and their products. So think about that technology behind the technology from my angle and, and my background, I am originally from Peru.
I grew up in Latin America and came here 20 years ago to pursue a career in marketing. Got into Dell and now ultimately into ni and it have been a very interesting journey for.
Peter: That sounds like it's been quite a ride, Anna and I, I know you did earlier in your [00:01:00] career stint more in the financial services area, but then got pretty deep into tech. Obviously it sounds like more than 15 years at Dell with a really great career there. And and then over the last few years at national instruments and give people a sense of the scale of natural national in instruments.
That's public company, but size of the company size of the team overall, because it's, it's, it's one of these companies that a lot of people I know, especially in tech and if you've done anything in hardware, especially you, you know, national instruments but help them understand a little bit more of the scope of the company.
Ana: Absolutely. So we are over 1.5 billion company. We operate across Asia
and us Americas and Europe. We have over 7,000 employees. And we support multiple industries all the way from transportation, you know, the cars, electric vehicles, everything that is being built there to arrow defense government [00:02:00] electronics and semiconductors. So we run across all the gamut of different industries from a marketing perspective.
What I find interesting is I come from Dell. And at Dell, we had a very complex set of number of products that we need to sell at deny because we have so many different industries. Our product portfolio is also very complex. So my role is how do I make sure my team, which is a little over a hundred people can build campaigns and marketing strategy for globally, all our countries, all our products, all industries, and all our customer tier.
Peter: Well, that's quite a matrix if you start to think about it. And, and, and I think a lot of people they'll get it when they start to think of people who understand Dell is, is a good proxy for, for this. And, and I can see why. The, the folks at national instruments were probably excited about your background when they, when they recruited you [00:03:00] there.
Because Dell, of course, that many people know is, is a very complex company because they sell the consumers, they sell the enterprises, they sell the governments, they sell the OEMs. It's, it's a little bit of everything, lots of distribution channels and in quite global. Uh, And, and I, and I is, is very much the same thing.
And so help me understand how as, as the CMO. how do you organize the chaos into a coherent connected marketing plan? And, and because a lot of our listeners may work for smaller companies. They've got literally one little piece of maybe the 50 elements that you're working with. How do you tie it all together into something that that makes sense for, for you?
Let alone the market.
Ana: the main, the main area that I have been leading and transforming in terms of marketing is how re really became more efficient with our resources or our bucket. We don't have the large market of you [00:04:00] know, a Dell or a Cisco. We don't have the large teams. So it was all about how do we. Sharing resources.
By example, the social media team can be very small, that they need to support all the different type of industries and all the different type of customers. So that have been the first thing that I changed was align it by functions versus aligning it by industry. Or by customer chair, because we did, we didn't have the resources.
And then the second part is ruthless prioritization, right? What are the goals we are trying to drive? And then where are we going to add? The more value you can have multiple pro program manager program managers come to marketing and say, I need a. And you can get with 65 plants and everything is so little that you're not making a difference.
And really we have achieved the, the mindset to say brief me what you are trying to [00:05:00] do. Business unit, right. Product owner. And then we'll come back with the recommendation to prioritize and optimize the dollars so we can make the most for the.
Peter: Well, that, that that's music to to our ears because we of course advocate a lot around these, this idea of aligning and focusing around your key objectives and making sure that you're investing to support those objectives over time, and it can be complicated. And there's an interesting thing that you mentioned Anna in there.
There the. implication was that there's this translation step between in, in, I maybe what happens from like a product owner where you may have a, a product centric kind of campaign desire and, and the marketing organization. So do you all operate more as an overall service organization to to product owners?
And your goal is taking those product goals and sort of plugging it in and [00:06:00] organizing it into a, into a marketing plan. Is that the
Ana: So we support the business units and we have product experts. We call them the offering managers, right. That sit in the different business units. So they will come with. Goals overall for the unit. And then yes, we will build that recommendation for how do we, what do we need to do in terms of marketing?
One of the key areas that make us have easier discussions is that I introduce something that have worked really well at Dell, which is the number of messages in market. Because that's where we were having a lot of challenges. Everybody wanted a, a different thing. And in the end, it's only one customer, right?
You can talk to him about 25 things. They will only remember what thing. So we went from having, I don't know, over 40 different campaigns to seven, and that has streamline and make it easier. And also. Enable us to focus in a strategy [00:07:00] versus being order takers, because we didn't have time, right. To keep up with everything that was coming our.
Peter: Yeah, I, I see that a lot. It's interesting, you know, in, in my business we sort of review and help people optimize their, their marketing plans. And in doing that, we see, I mean, I've reviewed thousands of marketing plans over time, and a lot of them are quite incoherent and, and the biggest challenge is people try to do.
And when I say too much, I mean too many, they do too many different things and and they, they don't add up to tell a story. And you're exactly right on a, I, I love what you're saying that going from even of a multi-billion dollar organization, can't really support. You know, 40 different messages to the market, 40 different campaigns.
Obviously you need to have some capability to differentiate for different audiences and messages, but at [00:08:00] the end of the day, you need to make sure that it adds up to something. So, so tell me in your journey. At and I have you, have you changed the overall top level message for the organization or has that been consistent since you've been there and, and maybe following up, has it, has it, when was the last time it changed?
Ana: So we had our big rebrand effort back in 20. and I joined towards the end of 2019. So I was part of, of those efforts that we ran efforts. And this is a company that for four years, right. Has operate as a company that has grown from being as small startup to being over a billion dollars. So the. brand the way we're talking to customers, the message was not [00:09:00] modernized.
It was very traditional. We talk about products. We talk about, you know, specs. There was nothing about the people. There was nothing about the customer, so that rebrand exercise again, happening in 2020, and it have been a huge pivot to really change the way we look at our messages and how we communicate with our a.
Kelsey: So speaking of, you know, this change and looking at our audience and our customers a lot more, I definitely think that this marketing landscape has changed quite a bit in the last, you know, three to five or, or even a decade over these years. So, given your experience, it's super impressive. Obviously, working from Dell and EMC.
How do you think that landscape has changed? And how do you think marketers can, you know, adapt to marketing, being front and center for needing to be humans in that, in that area?
Ana: I've been working marketing for over 27 years now. And I think everything I've think when we talk about social media, when we talk about content is key when we talk [00:10:00] about data. Right. But I really feel that the pandemic. Like the electro shock we needed to wake up. So for the first time I'm seeing the humanity come into conversations at the customer level, at the investor level, at the company level and at the employee level and communities that for me has been the huge change that is pivoting all of these new conversations that before were, were something that we just kept.
You know, here, it was like, no, let's make sure we are driving our ride for the company
Peter: it's interesting. I spent some time going through your, your latest annual report. And, and, and one of the things in the, in the shareholder letter that your CEO Eric star Cluff talks about is the importance of corporate impact as part of your overall strategy. And I [00:11:00] know you personally are pretty deeply engaged in, in the ESG initiatives and corporate impact in general.
So it would be really helpful to understand from your perspective, Anna How does that relate? Tell us how that relates to, to marketing. So what, what is the, what is the what, what is the, the business case for the, the deep focus? For the deep focus in, in this area. And by the way, it seems to be working as an example, maybe you're, you're shy and won't tell anybody this, but I saw that Newsweek recognized national instruments as one of the most trustworthy companies in 2022.
And that has to be an output of that. So tell me how that helps The the overall growth, the overall value of the company with these initiatives.
Ana: The way we look at this is when you think about ESG, when you think about corporate responsibility, it really connects. A company [00:12:00] purpose, why a company exists beyond the earning for sure. And it really connects to why a customer should buy from us. Why an employee should work here. Right? Why annvestors should invest in this company.
So I see them together. Versus two separate entities that doesn't mean can that live in different teams, but they need to be together. So when you are thinking about your brand, your purpose, your ESG needs to be part of your brand.
Peter: Yeah. And it's been really interesting over the last couple of years. I don't know if interesting is the best word for the last couple of years, but O obviously with, with the pandemic, but also with the, the really difficult war that has been going on right now in, in Ukraine. The it's, it's created an [00:13:00] amazing amount of disruption in, in the market.
And, and I also think there's a big focus that especially large companies are looking at around the, the risk in disruption, in, in their suppliers in their uh, and they're looking at. Who are the people who are the core suppliers that I really want to do business with over the long term? So in, in my mind, there's, there's, there's a huge business value in, in at least maintaining a a.
Minimum level of reputation, because if you go below that threshold, I, I think it's, it's catastrophic on, on the upside. I suspect it could be a real driver for for, for growth in all the ways that you mentioned at the same time. Is, is that part of the way that you think about it, Anna?
Ana: and let me give you an specific example, how. Data actually is telling us this. We just completed that research with customers and our customers are from a small businesses all [00:14:00] the way to the test left right at the large enterprises of the world. And we wanted to learn what are the reasons that they choose in a specific company in the testing measurement.
area and what are the more important topics and differentiators they look for? So part of that research fundings have that traditional. I want to perform, I want to be agile. I want to, you know, go fast. I want to have a good support. All these areas that I call them almost like a ticket to entry, but there.
A big part of the answers that were around finding a company that was that had strong ESG, you know priorities and efforts. And it was the first time we were seeing these come [00:15:00] so high up in the answers. So as we think about our campaigns and our message. You need to combine it together and you need to start talking about, yes, we produce this product and this is the way we are making sure it's inclusive, right.
Or we produce this software and this is the way we're doing different with the coding, but it, again, customers are telling us that. So it is for me, very clear that it needs to be a priority for the. It's one of these
Peter: it is really interesting. And if you look back over the last decade, of course, there's been a massive change in customer buyer expectations around a corporate responsibility. And I think it's had a significant. Increase in, in its influence. And it's one of these things that It's it's like a shifting tide.
It wasn't like a giant switch that got flipped. So it's interesting that you're seeing it in the data [00:16:00] in a, and, and the, the one challenge I find for for marketing leaders is that. You often have to think in much longer time horizons than, than other executives who may be operating in. You know, if you're a, a sales executive, maybe you're thinking quarterly or annually, sometimes you have to think about multiple years.
And, and one thing that seems to. Have helped your efforts is that it seems like you've got really great support from the CEO and probably from the board around sort of a longer strategic vision in the strategic value of these things. Can you talk about how, how that kind of overall corporate support is, is important or not for, for your efforts?
Ana: It's very important. We launch our corporate impact strategy. Last year, we are sharing results. I think in the next couple of, of, of months, and it has [00:17:00] been an initiative. A supporter and comes, you know, all the way from the board to the CEO, to all the executives across the company. So, and it's part of, of our goals, right?
It's part of our goal for the next 10 years. Actually, we have been very trans transparent putting our goals out and seeing this is where we want to get in terms of. Eh, diversity inclusion. This is a percentage of people of color we want to have in our company. This is a percentage of managers of color we want to have in our company and so on.
So I, I do believe that that is critical for again for like this to not be in a silo, to not be just something driven by IRG, but to really be part of the strategy of a. And how you embedded around what you're doing. R and D how you're, what you're doing, HR with your employees, right. And how they support this strategy, what you are [00:18:00] doing in the business unit, what you are doing in marketing and all across the multiple functions.
Kelsey: I was gonna say, so how, how can we get companies that, you know, sometimes they'll see it as a checklist of, you know, inclusion and making sure we have diversity. How can we make sure that they make it not only a priority, but so driven and part of their brand and who they are as a company? And, and bridge that gap that some companies may necessarily have, cuz they don't necessarily see as much as importance as they.
Ana: I think it's a great opportunity right now for the CMOs to, you know, learn more, especially if they don't have these inter companies to. Talk to fault who are already doing it to get metrics to service practices and bring that up with their leadership, with their CEO, with their board, we have that responsibility to move it forward.
We are, you know, the brand, we are driving the message, we're driving the, [00:19:00] the strategy of how we talk to the customers and this needs to be part of it. So I think more than ever, let's educate ourselves and, and let's change. The way companies are doing business because reality is if we don't change, right, company will be out of business. Customers, make decisions on who they want to buy from B2C. Very strong. B2B is coming also, it's already happening. So let's make these changes, eh, as soon as.
Peter: So one of the things that's gonna make this challenging, I think, is the current economic environment that we're going through. So there's obviously a lot of turbulence right now in, in the market with, with high inflation coming from you know, the, the the, the bubble from the stimulus activities from.
The supply chain concerns from the combination of COVID in the war. So all these things plus sort of an overhang in tech where, where there was [00:20:00] probably a, an two inflated set of values, which has started to affect the market. So all these things together is creating a lot of turbulence in the market and.
I find that that's a very challenging time for marketing leaders to defend the strategic because what's happening is the CEOs and CFOs are now coming back and saying, Ugh, you know, now we've gotta find a way to trim our sales a little bit. We've gotta find a way to be a little bit more efficient. So in that mode, Anna, how do you think.
The, the, the case for, for defending the strategic kind of initiatives that you've talked about in, in this environment where people are going to ask you to be much more fiscally responsible uh,
Ana: I think one of the areas that for me have been very important, ha it was to go beyond marketing goals, right? Marketing value and strategy. And where I'm really [00:21:00] partnering with is the chief of human resources, because a lot of the things are going to impact the employees. We talk about a very Turling market.
People are living C. So if we don't have these type of initiatives and we don't believe from them and they are not part of the values of a company, there's going to be a great cost for losing all these people. Right. And having to train new people. So that's one of the conversations I'm having with my chief of HR saying, you need to help me.
You need to advocate for me because. It's now it's together. It's not about marketing anymore, right? It it's about employees or talking with my investor relationship, you know, a partner and. , this is what investors are looking for. So it's not the typical and traditional role of marketing. We've always think in the past is again, opening these conversations to the new partners we have.
So we can all go together and say, this is what we need. This is [00:22:00] what corporate impact strategy. This is why the investment it's.
Peter: Yeah. And it's a very similar story, I think with with, I mean, a part of your, the communication of your brand which can have a broad impact and, and the corporate responsibility is, is an element of that, but also goes well beyond the brand. So it's, it's really a, a combination of those things and, and you see a lot.
CMOs struggling in these moments. I know I've, I've in, in my CMO jobs have been pressured some to, to to take the foot off the accelerator on the strategic. I, I had one really particularly painful environ moment where you know, as the CMO of about a 2 billion software company and we were doing a major re.
Which I, I thought, and the CEO thought and the board thought was incredibly important. And we had to dramatically cut it back. And and, and I think it was okay in the end. I think we probably, and it might have been the right thing to do, but it felt really painful. [00:23:00] And and this was around the, the the 2008.
You. Market crash that was going on and the same kind of thing going on in, in worse, in a lot of ways. But defending those things is really difficult. And, and one thing I was gonna ask you, Anna, cuz I realize I'm doing a speech. I'm not asking you questions now. I is, is that, have you found, it's. been helpful for you to defend your investments more because you've taken the initiative to drive this efficiency?
Into marketing and national instruments. So going from 40 to seven campaigns, as an example, really streamlining, really focusing on reuse as an example, drives more efficiency. Has that, has that been helped as a tell, tell me about that.
Ana: Let me tell you a story because it has helped to give you answer first, but let me tell you a story. When I came in marketing was a take order organization. Big chunk of our dollars were what we call non [00:24:00] working dollars. So even though the budget was, you know, a reasonable budget, You really didn't have much advertising because we were spending all this stuff.
So turned this around, you know, that was number one step. And then at that number one step where I was turning this around, I had all these stakeholders saying, I don't believe in marketing, so we should be cutting your budget. Right. And also at that step one that turning it around, I didn't have metrics to prove it.
So. I knew I needed to get there, but I was not there. I was like, okay, step one. We just need to change this to start being more specific and expertise. Step two. Let's have metrics and get stakeholders to believe in marketing. So when bad times come because they will come, you know, you know how it is, it's the markets go up and down.
We are ready and they can become our advocates. So that was a step [00:25:00] two. We just. Finalizes the tool last year, this year, right. Is hard there. Supply change issues. There are some areas that are, that that need to be streamlined. And even though I know that some of the, the marketing dollar have to be reduced, my stakeholders are telling me, look, we believe in you.
We will need to do and make some of these cuts, but we want to go back to where you were in a couple of. so I changed their perception. Now they are defending me right now. They are like, yes, please let's support this. And yes, we may need to cut, but then let's put the money back. So I, that would be my advice is have clarity on, are your stakeholders really understanding what you are doing or what do you need to do in terms of metrics and, you know, study to educate them.
So when these things happened, you have their back, they have your back, sorry. [00:26:00]
Peter: I, I think it's really great advice, Anna. And one of the things that I often tell people is that one of the most important roles for a CMO is being able to communicate. Business value of marketing in the terms that non marketers understand. And, and part of the problem is that marketing people tend to talk marketing, speak all the time and.
That doesn't really fly when you're talking to a CFO or a division GM or something like that. They they assume that you're just obscuring information or or you know, who, who knows what and, and, and it's interesting because I, I think a lot of CMOs, they appear to be hiding behind a, a smoke screen, but I don't think it's on purpose.
In most cases, I, I think it is situational because they, they don't have the data. They don't have the organization, they don't have the tools to, to really communicate some of the key things that you mentioned. [00:27:00] And one thing I'll bring up is this idea of, of working money, I call it productive spend. Right.
So what is, what percentage of your overall investment in marketing has a measurable outcome associated with. And, and that it doesn't just have to be media, but it can be all the things that you're investing. That's related to a campaign where you're expecting an outcome. And, and it's very difficult to do for most for most people.
And the most important thing that you started with is this idea of just you know, it sounds like aligning people around what's important and focusing the organization on, on these, these key initiatives, which. Which is great. I, I, I wanted to, cuz I, we only have a couple minutes left and there's, there's So much more I wanted to ask you.
So I have to be super selective and I know I haven't let Kelsey get in a word in edge wise here. But I, I, I, I did wanna ask you a little bit about how you think it, it has been, has it been a positive thing for you or a headwind for you being [00:28:00] a a Peruvian woman? In a very high pressure tech company environment, which has been dominated for many years by a bunch of, of white men.
So tell me a little bit about your experience and and whether you think it's getting better and how you've navigated through this, this world to achieve the success you already.
Ana: So three three big experiences of my life have helped me build a superpower to. be more inclusive and understand, you know, the, an organization. The first one was growing up in Peru in a very traditional household where I was supposed to get married and be a mom. And I had to break from that because everybody persists me as she's, she's going to stay home.
And I went to study engineering. The second you know, part was studying [00:29:00] engineering. I was the only woman in, in. In a group of, you know, several men. So I think we graduated 600 people less than 10 women. So I had to also figure out how to be successful in that environment. And then coming here as an immigrant.
And as I started moving up that the scale, it was the only Latina in the room. So these experiences actually help me in a way. approach problems in a different way and all we think how to be able to talk and to be understood by others, how to connect with others. And that's my superpower. I'm a connector.
I, you know, am the one who will make sure we can work together and move forward. And it's just. An advantage that being challenged through my life has given.[00:30:00]
Peter: That that's a, that's an amazing story. And I'm a big believer that your superpower is related to your kryptonite. And and when you're, when you're faced with different challenges, you have to figure out how to over overcome them to, to get there and, you know an interesting, so a great example of that is my my middle daughter has some pretty significant special needs and she uses a wheelchair to get around.
And. So to compensate for that, she has this incredibly magnetic personality and because she has to draw people into her, cuz that she can't especially go to them the same way. And, and so she's adapted in that and it sounds like you've made, made these adaptations with with the extra headwinds that you've been presented with.
And, and I think I, I, I wanted to add that. I think that idea of connecting. as a CMO is one of the most important skills because in, in many cases, if you. Want to successfully [00:31:00] negotiate with your, your peers in the executive suite around these resources, you have to be able to communicate them with them, list their support, communicate in the values.
We said in, in the language that they understand, listen to them to understand what they need and, and, and be part of the solution where I think some. Traditional more traditional marketing leaders have historically tried to OB. And and, and, and not especially drive for clarity and connection. So I, I can see that that has to be one of the reasons you've had this meteoric rise in your career.
And I'm excited to see what what, what you do next at national instruments because it sounds like there's a lot of exciting stuff coming up. I, I should stop blathering on and, and maybe ask Kelsey to, cuz we've got one more question. And so Kelsey, Kelsey, why don't you take
Kelsey: Anna, this has been excellent, super informative podcast. We always love to ask the question, especially as you and a CMO [00:32:00] seat, what advice would you give to those that are CMOs are aspiring to be one someday.
Ana: I will advise to, you know, learn and network and make sure you are making connections outside of your box, outside of your organization, outside of your. Talk to our CMOs. I have found that a lot of people are open to have conversations and share best practices and, you know, just build relationships.
That's the only way to, to move forward because marketing is moving so fast that whatever you are lay in college, or you went back maybe to do an executive, you know, training, it will be also it very soon. So keep yourself updated and keep yourself. Did thank
Kelsey: Excellent. Well, thank you so much, Anna, for joining the next CMO podcast. Make sure to follow the next CMO and planet on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if [00:33:00] you have any ideas for topics or guests, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day, everyone. Thanks Anna.