150: Walking the Halls – Featured Interview with guest expert Thomas Barta

Thomas Barta, Speaker, Author, and Consultant 

In this episode of My Quest for the Best, Thomas Barta talks with Bill Ringle about the difference between doing marketing and leading marketing, and the challenges faced by both CMOs and customer-facing employees alike.

>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.

Interview Insights

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:

  • What it means to “Walk the Halls” in Marketing
  • Popular Myths still held by senior managers
  • How a CMO overcame his problems with both agenda and budget.
  • The question every marketer should ask themselves
  • What it means to be in the value creation zone

Read the Show Notes from this Episode

  • 1:35 Barta discusses how his Mother was an early inspiration for his young life.
  • 1:40 “She had one principle, and that is, ‘You can always advance.’ Whenever I had a new idea, her best advice was, ‘Go try it.’”
  • 2:00 How growing up in Germany and driving ambulances for civil service prepared Barta for his career.
  • 2:36 [On speaking to people in the fields of marketing and customer relations] – “The main challenge – everybody who does marketing and everybody who worries about customers is facing – is how do be relevant, how to get things done, how to really help customers.”
  • 3:12 “I believe everybody who works with customers or for customers deserves a stronger voice in their organization.”
  • 3:39 “Over 50% of C-suite executives, just surveyed by The Economist, just said they do not believe that marketing drives revenue, which is a problem, because, as a marketer, if you’re not revenue, you may end up being costly.”
  • 4:16 “It’s super important that every marketer who listens asks themselves, “Am I cost or revenue?”
  • 4:49 The story of the CMO and his problems with agenda and budget, and what Barta’s team did to help him overcome these roadblocks.
  • 5:48 [On the importance of removing buzzwords from marketing speech] – “We really stopped the buzzword: “Bingo!”
  • 6:32 “When he started to use the language of the rest of the c-suite…he changed so much [about] what the discussion was.”
  • 6:53 “We need to get marketers into the flow because that’s where the customer always belongs.”
  • 7:20 Barta describes his inspiration for developing a course and writing his book while working at McKinsey, and how he ultimately decided to do it on his own.
  • 7:34 “What you do when you want to do something at McKinsey like this, you’ve gotta get your act together and find the best practices, tools, research, and what have you.”
  • 8:23 “My reason for writing this book was really that there wasn’t one, plus, I felt probably it was a good way to get the word out.”
  • 8:44 How long the writing, editing, publishing, and promotion process for the book was, and why feedback from industry leaders made it worth the wait.
  • 9:22 Barta describes the 3 surprises he uncovered while distilling down acquired data into 12 central ideas.
  • 9:21 “The first surprise was that doing marketing is very different from leading marketing, and in fact, you can be a very good technical marketer – you can be very good at branding, segmentation, and what have you – but have absolutely no impact in the market.”
  • 9:45 “What found is that the skill of marketing inside a company, of leading marketing, are very different from the skills of branding, segmentation, pricing, and all the things you would technically do in marketing. It’s a whole new set of skills.”
  • 10:25 “So few marketers are actually equipped with the skills to lead.”
  • 11:15 [On the biggest myth held by senior managers] – “It’s the company’s fault.”
  • 11:18 “A lot of marketers will tell you that they would be so much more successful if they only were working in another company, if they only had another boss if they only had another industry.”
  • 11:55 “About 55% of the success is driven by the leadership skills of the marketers. Another 15% by the skills.”
  • 12:51 Barta lists two pieces of advice to offer marketers listening to the program.
  • 13:10 “Make sure the issues you’re tackling as a marketer are big.”
  • 13:45 [The Value Creation Zone] “Where company goals and company needs and customer needs are overlapping.”
  • 14:52 “Tip #2 – Make sure you are in the revenue camp.”
  • 15:18 “Get in the revenue camp, figure out how much your work is worth, do it together with finance if you need to.”
  • 16:10 “What’s the opposite of a delighted customer?”
  • 16:15 “In marketing, even if we have the greatest idea about customer service, there will always be a lot of people that we need to convince and have play and play, so we can actually make great customer service happen.”
  • 16:40 “As marketers, we are in the business of change.”
  • 17:12 “As leaders, we are dealers in hope.
  • 17:28 How the Marketing director of Ford used company pride to launch a brilliant marketing campaign.
  • 17:53 [How to market effectively] – “When you think about your work, think about the story you can tell that will give people hope.” 
  • 17:59 What it means to “walk the halls” in marketing.
  • 18:30 “You have to go out and talk to people [about] where you want to see change, sharing your ideas. It also means shutting up and listening, and not making decisions straightaway.”
  • 19:25 Why it’s important for people to be involved, even if they don’t agree.
  • 19:35 “As a marketer, we have to go out, we have to walk the halls.”
  • 20:10 “If you talk to very successful senior marketers, in fact, very successful leaders, you’re typically touched by their passion, their conviction, their strong beliefs in what they’re doing.”
  • 21:41 What “fire in the eyes” looks like, and how to test for it.
  • 22:48 Some of Barta’s tips and tricks for staying productive.

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Expert Bio

Thomas Barta is the world’s premier expert, speaker, and author on marketing leadership.

Thomas is a former McKinsey partner. He speaks to Fortune 500 leaders worldwide on marketing from a CEO’s perspective—and on why to make customer focus and innovation actually happen in organizations, leadership is the key.

His latest research is the world’s largest-ever study, with over 68,000 assessments, on what makes for an influential Chief Marketing Officer.

A professional keynote speaker and conference host, Thomas inspires attendees at more than 30 annual events for companies, industry associations, and conferences—including Advertising Week New York, Financial Times Innovators Summit, Adobe Summit, and Ad: Tech Asia.

Thomas is the co-author of the path-breaking new leadership book: The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader.

Thomas is a former senior marketer and an organizational psychologist. He has consulted and marketed for over 20 years, in 14 industries, in 45 countries. Thomas has addressed leaders from the world’s most prominent companies, including over two dozen from the Fortune 500.

As a dean of the firm’s highest-rated internal program, Thomas has trained over a thousand McKinsey leaders on making change happen without authority. He is also the leadership dean for the CMO Fellowship Programme (a joint venture between McKinsey and the Marketing Academy to prepare CMOS for a CEO role).

Thomas’s leadership columns appear in publications from Forbes to Marketing Week.

Contact Info and Social Media for Thomas Barta

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