Myth Buster: FreshBooks’ Paul Cowan Debunks the Single-Source-of-Truth Myth

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There’s a notion among marketers that the way to provide the best customer experience is to have the richest data. After all, to CMOs and most modern marketers, data is basically the key to unlocking customer success. But to provide those marquee customer experiences, there’s a myth swirling around that the only way to have success is if all your data sets live in one place. You need the mythical “single source of truth.” But is a single source of truth actually attainable in today’s oversaturated martech ecosystem? Paul Cowan is the CMO of FreshBooks, and he isn’t so sure.

“Having a single source of truth is next to impossible. I haven’t been in any organization where anybody said, ‘Man, our data is in a perfect state. Here it is. Here’s our 360 view of the customer. We’re done, clap your hands and walk away.’ That doesn’t exist. You need to have your single source of truth in terms of what you believe success looks like, and everybody’s aligned to that…But I think being able to have that 360 view of the customer is the hard part.”

Having a better understanding of who your customers are is something all marketers are striving for today, and it’s something that Paul and his team are working toward. But while a single source of truth might not be attainable, there are avenues to create a clearer picture to work with. On this episode of Marketing Trends, Paul joined me for a fun conversation covering a host of topics, including what it will mean to build FreshBooks’ data strategy to target an SMB market in dire need of reliable insights. Paul and I also discussed how FreshBooks reorganized its marketing department to eliminate siloed segments, and why the best marketers need to have an understanding of their sales counterparts. Enjoy!

Main Takeaways

  • Do you Understand Where I’m Coming From?: In order for marketing and sales to have true alignment, both departments must have a clear understanding of the pain points that the other is experiencing. When marketing is under the direction of sales, it does not work. And when marketers don’t have a clear understanding of the sales process, there tends to be miscommunication. If you want true alignment between both, marketers and sales individuals must understand the roles of the other.
  • Tension Builds Success: Healthy tension between sales and marketing is okay, as long as that tension is focused on building the overall relationship and strength of the brand. When there is tension between the two departments, it keeps both parties on their toes and responsive to the other. When those lines of communication are closed, there’s more room for complacency.
  • Sources Say: The idea of a single source of truth for your data might be unrealistic, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t harness your first-party data to create a clearer picture of your target audience. A single source of truth should be about understanding the value of your datasets, but also understanding the best way to use your data.

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Episode 247