Best Ways to Develop a High-Performing Marketing Team | LivePerson Podcast

Best Ways to Develop a High-Performing Marketing Team | LivePerson Podcast

Interview by Vianca MeyerVianca Meyer
Published: September 08, 2023

Who Is Ruth Zive?

Ruth Zive is the Chief Marketing Officer at LivePerson and a metrics-driven marketing strategist. She has worked with B2B clients in the tech, financial services, and nonprofit industries for over two decades. Ruth is also the host of the Generation AI podcast.

From nonprofits to software, Ruth Zive has had an unusual journey to becoming the expert marketer she is today.

As the chief marketing officer at LivePerson, she combines her wide range of expertise to leverage data and yield results, all while developing and leading a high-performing team.

In our exclusive interview, Ruth discusses how marketing has changed in the past decade, the best way to build a team of experts, and why remaining curious is key in digital marketing.

This podcast transcript has been edited for clarity and readability.

Vianca Meyer: Before LivePerson, you worked at several other top marketing roles. How did those gigs shape how you're handling things at LivePerson?

Ruth Zive: Blueprint Software Systems and Ada were both early-stage startups when I joined, while LivePerson was already an established 25-year-old public company. However, I took a lot of learnings from those early experiences and brought them to LivePerson.

I learned that when dealing with resource constraints, small teams, and massive goals and targets, you know how to be very nimble, operate in a flat environment, be decisive, and turn to the data to iterate swiftly.

When I joined LivePerson, there was so much good there. That was the draw -  incredible customers, incredible people, an unbelievable product, but there were also a lot of processes and, in some cases, a lot of unnecessary procedures. I've tried to simplify the process, goals, and targets, articulate what those are with clarity, and assign measurable outcomes to them so that everybody understands what we're chasing.

That's a very startup-like muscle to flex, which I brought to the table at LivePerson. I learned a lot from those two experiences, as well as about building high-performing teams. One of the more gratifying parts of my job as a CMO is building high-performing teams helping people learn and get outside their comfort zones.

What have been the big game changers in marketing over the past ten years?

I remember buying ads and that being a primary strategy for marketing. That's all changed. The vast majority of what we do today is digital, especially in B2B enterprise SaaS. I think the ultimate game changer is that it can all be measured.

You used to have to do a lot of market research and surveying to understand the impact of your investment, but today, you can just look at metrics, click-through rates, and conversion rates. We can measure what we do, allowing us to make brighter, better decisions about how we invest and what we invest.

Right about when I decided to move out of nonprofit and into this world of tech is when all of that was moving, and that's what was exciting to me. Today, even as recently as six months ago, we saw the entire world disrupted with generative AI coming onto the market in a frenzy. You think about the internet of 20-25 years ago and how that changed the game, I think this is similar.

What are the top three things a person in your position would need to do to develop a high-performing team?

I have been managing teams for a long time, and I hold certain principles dearly as I manage my team. The first is that everyone needs to operate with clarity on what it is they are trying to accomplish. I believe wholeheartedly in setting objectives along with measurable key results. They must be simple, straightforward, and persistent, so you're not changing them every two months.

With my team, I work with three ultimate outcomes that we're trying to drive quarter to quarter. That's critical in managing people and building alignment across a high-performing team. I think another one is that you always want to hire people who are somehow better than you are. I'm a much better marketer with people on my team reporting to me who are experts, and then you have to trust them. If you're hiring an expert, trust them to do the job. 

Number three would be that you have to roll up your sleeves and get on the front line to be credible when having those conversations with your direct reports. You can't hold somebody accountable if you don't have a baseline understanding of the job that you're asking them to do.

You've dabbled a lot within marketing, from brand growth to business development. What gets you most excited nowadays?

You usually gravitate toward what you're good at. What I'm better at is demand so that measurable inbound function is what I really understand - the math and the logic behind it. I always feel bad for the head of my demand team because I drive him crazy since I understand his world the best. 

A close second would be on the content side. I'm a writer, and that's very much in my DNA. What gets me excited is actually what I don't know and understand. I didn't have much experience the first time I took on the BDR function or product marketing, but I'm always excited by the new and the unfamiliar.

That's what's allowed me to move into an executive position - an open-mindedness and curiosity about what I'm not necessarily good at. That's what's allowed me to stretch and grow.

Given your two-decade run, what nuggets of wisdom would you drop for newbies entering the tech marketing scene?

Always be curious, even when you feel you've mastered something. Provided you're talking about marketers who are new on the scene, who really wanna grow in their career and get to a position of leadership, it's that curiosity that will get you there.

Don't get too hung up on the title or even the compensation - the driver for me was always: "What new things am I going to get to do? What new things am I going to learn? How will I be able to grow? Who am I going to learn from within the organization?" Having those things top of mind will allow your career to evolve organically in a positive way. 

Then I would say, know your superpower. Everybody has at least one superpower that is an innate part of what they can do. For me, it was writing. For other people, it might be design. For others, it might be operations or metrics. Figure out what it is early and use that as a wedge to get the jobs that are interesting to you, but don't get stuck in that world where you're naturally very competent. It goes back to the first thing - be curious, stretch, and always look for other things to learn.

Edited by Anja Paspalj and Nikola Djuric. Keep up with LivePerson and read more interviews with industry experts! 

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