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McDonagh Growth Associates Executive Interview

Mariann McDonagh, President, McDonagh Growth Associates

Long-Time Technology CMO Believes it Takes More than Just Marketing Acumen to Build Sustainable Business Success

Throughout her distinguished marketing career in technology organizations, the key to Mariann McDonagh’s ability to impact the bottom-line performance was maintaining agility in all circumstances. “People who say they are only marketers are limiting themselves,” said McDonagh whose background includes more than a decade in the contact center space. “As CMO at inContact, I always thought my real title should have been Chief Growth Officer.” Now she’s making this sentiment a reality, having recently left the worldwide cloud contact center software giant to form her own consulting organization, McDonagh Growth Associates.

In her leadership roles, she learned to skillfully navigate the choppy waters of a constantly evolving marketplace and chart a course to greater profitability by not being afraid to make mistakes. “You can’t succeed without trying new things, tweaking plans to adjust as you move forward, and being paralyzed by fear of failing,” she said. “Driving change successfully requires one to know the difference between simply handling management responsibilities and providing the actual leadership which should be your primary job focus.”

mcdonagh.awardjan16In an environment where new launches often took place at an accelerated pace, one of the key lessons she absorbed was to not become too attached to an offering, no matter how exciting. “You can’t fall so much in love with a product that you can’t bear to see it fail,” she said. “You have to know when something’s not going to work and be ready to pick up the pieces and turn your attention to an idea that might be more productive.”

McDonagh has always been extremely cognizant of the clarity of the message being disseminated. “Too many companies, particularly in the contact center world, are content to communicate in platitudes without ever telling anyone what issues their product has the capability to resolve,” she said. “If you want to deliver a message that cuts through the noise, ask the market what its needs are and it will tell you. Take five minutes to talk to your potential customers, not just the high- level executives.... but those who know what’s happening in the front lines, to understand what’s really important.”

What is her advice to businesses which are looking for the elusive path to achieve and maintain consistent growth? “Sales and marketing need to be aligned and measured in the same way,” she said. “Companies need to develop a plan that’s consistent, connected and focused. It is also important for businesses to invest in the futures of the people who work for them at every level.”

She’s seen many start-up companies get off the ground led by the proverbial “guy in a garage with a great idea”.  But to build long-term viability, she feels that entrepreneurship must give way to knowing how to grow a business. “The kind of businesses that succeed are the ones that are able to make the shift from being engineering-driven to market-driven. They are able to listen and learn how to customize their product to real needs and realistically scale their company.”

Why has McDonagh chosen to take the leap from being a respected corporate executive to the relative uncertainty of starting her own business? “I’m the kind of person who wants to have an active voice in a situation. If I’m on a jury, I somehow wind up being the foreperson,” she said. “I see myself as a serial growth entrepreneur and I’ve always been interested in the opportunity to offer coaching and guidance to small and mid-sized companies to help build successful businesses.”

Among the variety of services McDonagh Growth Associates will provide are strategic planning, demand marketing, and helping to deliver consistent, effective messaging. She plans to help her clients set up their own messaging workshops, where they can test the effectiveness of what they’re saying with both internal influences and potential customers alike. “It’s a matter of getting people together in a virtual room to see what they collectively think,” she said. “If they want to succeed, companies must learn how to listen and how to partner.”

Not surprisingly, she has a distinct vision of the type of businesses with which she wants to work. “I’m looking for companies with a lot of white space - companies with prudent management that have a lot of things they want to accomplish, in order to have success, and make everything more effortless.” 

For more information about  McDonagh Growth Associates, please visit  www.mcdgrowth.com or visit Marianne’s LinkedIn page.