Alexander Åkerberg has over ten years of marketing, PR, and communication experience with several well-known brands. Today, he leads marketing at the technology consulting company Vinnergi.
Unlike many venture capital-financed startups, Vinnergi is essentially an employee-owned company that influences all parts of the company’s operations, including marketing.
– We have had no agency support most of the time I have worked here. So I have had to be a generalist and manage everything from programming WordPress to strategy, design, follow-up, and media buying, says Alexander Åkerberg.
Instead of asking for a larger marketing budget, ROI governs the marketing work at Vinnergi.
– If I reach my goals with a given budget, I always think about how I can achieve the same results with less money, not just what I can do with more money, says Alexander Åkerberg. It is not my money, so I must be careful and ensure it creates maximum impact.
How do you balance so many tasks at once?
– It goes well if you learn to automate and digitize many processes, prioritizing what is important and opting out of almost everything else. Among other things, we mainly focus on two areas: inbound marketing via our website and LinkedIn for employer branding.
Although Vinnergi does not work with large in-house teams and marketing budgets, the company has expanded dramatically in recent years, going from 200 to 500 employees.
– A key to success is employees’ involvement and ownership of the plan. This is worth its weight in gold for marketing as I get the best ideas from my colleagues everywhere in the organization.
According to Alexander Åkerberg, to succeed as CMO, it is necessary to switch between strategic work and implementation at a fast pace.
– I usually call it being a strategic implementer. Of course, you need to be a visionary and develop new ideas, but more is required. To be successful, you also need to develop people and be confident in what you implement, which requires a broad knowledge of everything from the web to text production.
In addition, marketing managers must be decision-makers who manage their environment with focus and determination.
– There are always many opinions about marketing because the brand is the sum of the employees’ and customers’ collective experience. Therefore, everyone will always have views that depend on personal taste. For myself, it is essential to have the courage to make a decision and stick with it, whatever the odds, for development to move forward.
What are your top tips for a new CMO?
– Start with a hundred-day plan, like an American president usually does. You must prove your usefulness quickly because that will give you a completely different mandate in the organization. Start by identifying and picking low-hanging fruit and planting new creative seeds in the furrows of success. Plus, you need to be open to learning from your mistakes along the journey. Next, you need to build measurability into your work so that it becomes clear—and not a matter of debate—what the function achieves. Unfortunately, follow-up and ROI in marketing are far too often neglected.
Lastly, a CMO, according to Alexander Åkerberg, must be as visible in the organization as possible, both digitally and in IRL.
– Build a wide network of contacts by being out and about meeting employees and customers. I get my best ideas from employees in different positions in our organization who see small things that can significantly impact our visibility and growth.
What do you think the marketing organizations of the future will look like?
– I think they will aim for more in-house efficiency and keep their organizations leaner. This means that you both need to supplement with external expert competence and that those who work in-house must be generalists with knowledge in the many disciplines within marketing.
Writer: Teuta Alija, CMO at Klingit
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