Building Better CMOs
Building Better CMOs
Vineet Mehra (Chime) Transcript, Part 1
Vineet Mehra: We have marketed marketing in an absolutely divisive way and actually split the community as opposed to recognizing that there's just a new way of marketing, and these two things need to be integrated and live together.

Greg Stuart: Welcome to Building Better CMOs, a podcast about how marketers can get stronger and smarter. I am Greg Stuart, the CEO of the nonprofit trade association, MMA Global. And that voice you heard at the top is Vineet Mehra, the chief marketing officer of the financial technology firm, Chime. He's been in that role for a year and a half and previously worked at a range of companies, including Good Eggs,, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, and Novartis. Vineet is also on the global board of directors here at the MMA.

Today on Building Better CMOs, Vineet and I are going to talk a lot about brand as performance or is it brand versus performance or is it storytelling performance? He and I have a lot of views. MMA's got a lot of research. We'll let you decide which way it is. Now this podcast is all about the challenges marketers face and unlocking the true power that marketing can have. Vineet Mehra from Chime is going to tell us how to do that right after this.

Vineet, so great to have you on Building Better CMOs today. Thank you for joining me.

VM: Great to be here, Greg.

GS: Listen, I know you've been on the board for a little bit, not too long, but I know you well enough to know I think you and I are going to have some good-spirited discussion today because I think you'd like that. So this is going to be a lot of fun. And listen, I'm from Brooklyn, so I'm all in. Let's go. Let's go. I'm not sure all the listeners here would be familiar with Chime. You want to just give a little background on Chime so they understand the context of the business you're operating in? It's a classic Silicon Valley business, so give some of that story. That'd be great.

VM: Yeah, so Chime is a really hyper fast-growing financial technology company that was essentially built to serve everyday Americans—the 60 to 70 percent of Americans that live paycheck — with essentially fair, transparent, and accessible products. We pioneered, in essence, right in the wake of the financial crisis about eight or nine years ago, a new approach to banking and industry-breaking products like fee-free banking; getting paid two days early when you direct deposit with us; SpotMe, which is our $200 overdraft protection where you can get overdraft protection with no fees. So we essentially came in and disrupted a lot of, I would say, legacy practices from the traditional banks that were not serving the vast majority of Americans. And we've had some hypergrowth over the years and become one of the largest players in the financial services space by bringing these products to market.

GS: Yeah, no, I understood that as a transparency dynamic that that's what it's focused on. And I'm fortunate enough to have a bookkeeper who keeps track of my personal financials. And I look at what the banking service fees I pay every year, and I didn't even know I'd agreed to them, but there's a silliness to some of that. And if you're not in the right place, it can be really complicated for people. I totally got it. And Vineet, the really funny thing about this one is that it was started by Chris Britt, he's the singular founder, I think, and he used to work for me. If I'm right, his first job, it was in the dotcom. I was the head of corp dev at a dotcom ad tech company and he came in to help us do corp dev. It was a classic business.

We went public at $17 a share. Within 10 months, it went to $170 a share, and a year after that it was a $1.70 a share. So it was a very fast high. It was classic dotcom. I say to people, I moved to San Francisco, I moved for the boom and I stayed for the bust and it all happened pretty darn close to each other. But Chris is great. I love it. It's super exciting. I mean, haven't talked to him in a lot of years, but it's super great to see him do well and I couldn't be more excited that he's got you there to help. So that's great.

VM: Yeah. Chris is awesome. It's actually co-founded by Chris Britt and Ryan King.

GS: Oh, was it two of them? Okay, thank you. Yeah, I wasn't sure. Yeah.

VM: They're just awesome. And the impact this company has made on the industry is pretty amazing. I think we've eliminated half of the fees in the industry as everyone else has tried to copy us and has to respond to the impact we're making.

GS: Yeah, I love that. I assume, too... It's not really about Chime, but I'm just curious, I'm assuming that what their solution was in part was to apply a series of technology orientation rather than a branch-based service element. So they were able to lower their own costs, which mean they didn't have to pass those... Find ways to maybe non-transparently pass those costs onto consumers. Is that right?

VM: Yeah, I mean, and that's why at our core, we're a technology company. We don't have branches, we don't have tellers. We are essentially operating like a direct-to-consumer financial tech company that offers banking services. And that's allowed us to create a very different operating structure and cost space using technology to differentiate and creating essentially a new business model for the industry. Which has allowed us to eliminate fees and all of those things that traditionally were the way banks made money.

GS: Do you guys publicly disclose how many customers?

VM: We don't. We're still a private company and—

GS: Fair enough.

VM: You know how that goes, having been in a few of those.

GS: Totally got that and appreciate. Yeah, no, very smart. Really well done. Like I said, I'm super, super excited. So listen, we're going to talk about marketing. We're going to get into the main topic here in just a moment, Vineet. I don't usually spend a lot of time, like I said, I don't like to do a lot of CMO worship on the podcast if I can help it because I'm here to... My job is to help solve problems. For solving, you've got to admit there's a problem. But you have a very interesting background. So raised in Canada, joined P&G, ended up going to Singapore, had spent some time in India, back to Canada, then back to US, and then Europe. It's a long history, but we don't have to give it all. But give a sense to people where you've been through here.

VM: So I always start at the very beginning. I mean how I even learnt about marketing. I'm just a first-generation Indian kid raised in Canada by parents who knew nothing about marketing. I didn't know anything about it. I grew up in this small General Motors town in Canada, a little town called Oshawa. It's like the Flint, Michigan of Canada. And I didn't know what was what. I didn't even know marketing was a thing. I had this grade 11 teacher named Mr. Zuli.

And he saw I had a real interest in this marketing class I just happened to take. And he one day came to me and said, "Okay, Vineet, I'm going to give you $50 out of my pocket. Let's see what you can do with it." He gave me $50. I went to a lollipop convention and I bought all these lollipops, put them in the store in the hallway of the school, sold out. And by the end of the year we had Coke coolers, we had distribution of Hostess. It'd become a huge profit setup for the school. And it just taught me the power of business, marketing. And actually the funny story is he was actually an ex P&Ger turned middle school teacher, and he essentially told me about what Proctor and Gamble was. And from there I set that as a goal, and I thought that was a great place to start 25 years ago to learn marketing. And that was the school.

GS: I love it. Listen, I got into P&G business from an agency perspective very early on. I loved working in the company. But now listen, P&G took you to Singapore. You've done Singapore, you've done India.

VM: Yeah, so my career was super global. Started in Canada, took me over to India, back to Canada, then I went to Singapore and managed some of our beauty businesses for Asia Pacific there and really got to learn that market. Back to the US, and I entered the consumer health world in CPG. And actually that eventually took me to Switzerland where my son was born and I lived in Switzerland for about four or five years, ran European marketing for a large consumer health business. Came back to the US, joined Johnson & Johnson, eventually ended up as the president of the baby care division there. Thirty years old and thought I'd made it. And the first 10, 12 years of my CPG career were just super global, and I'm really thankful for the experiences.

GS: But eventually you gave up the high-flying J & J. You were pretty young to be in a role like that and said, "Enough of this."

VM: It's funny, you go through life thinking you have these goals and you think you've made it. And similar to the story of how I grew up, I got exposed to what else was happening in the world. And I realized that although I thought I'd reached a major goal and a milestone which I set for myself, which I had, I realized the world was changing around me and I realized I had to get to the West Coast. I had to get into Silicon Valley. And I took one of many pay cuts in my life, moved out to the Bay Area and started as CMO and chief revenue officer of And we created that consumer genetic revolution that happened for two or three years in our industry. And I started to really transform myself into much more of a full-stack CMO rather than a brand CMO and started to realize that that's where the world was headed. And I'm really glad I did.

GS: I had a conversation with one of the bigger CMOs in the world a little while ago, and I say, "I think the job of the MMA, the job of Greg Stuart here, is to help transpose all those brand CMOs to be customer experience CMOs." And it was very funny, Vineet, she didn't hesitate. As fast as you could respond she goes, "That's my journey." She said, "Now I got to figure out how I spend a billion dollars doing it." She had some pretty big budgets, but that was it. That is the transition. You're right, it's a data-driven world. The whole thing's going to changed. Well good. Well, we're going to get into all that. That's going to be really exciting. I love your story about your teacher, by the way. I think I actually got my marketing interest because there was a business that I was doing in college that only today is legal.

And I think that's what got me all excited about getting into marketing. I was studying sales, distribution, partnerships. It was a lot of good things, whatever. For the board's purposes, I don't do that anymore. So just to be clear. Let's jump into it here because it'd be a lot of fun. So I always like to ask this question. This sets up the whole thing. Okay, this is, again, not about CMO worship. This is about really understanding. There's no place for that. It's about understanding how do we collectively make marketing better, which I know you have some great points of view on. So the question is here, what do you think marketing, CMOs, and not to be derogatory to them in any way, but what do you think they maybe don't fully understand? What does the industry not really fully understand? What do you think we'd be better off if we did better appreciate? What do you think that is?

VM: Yeah, I think that's a really important question and being introspective and constantly aiming to improve I think is really important. So I appreciate what you guys do here on this podcast. I think there's a couple of things. The first thing is I think we as an industry, and I think us as CMOs, as leaders of industry own this, have divided ourselves between this idea of brand marketing and then performance marketing. And we've acted as if brand marketing shouldn't be performative or something and performance marketing shouldn't build brand. And we have this East Coast, West Coast dynamic going on in our industry. I refer to it as-

GS: It's a 2pac.

VM: ... 2pac, Biggie sort of dynamic. And the truth is I think we've done it to ourselves and instead of integrating our worlds and realizing that all of this is now marketing, we have marketed marketing in an absolutely divisive way and actually split the community as opposed to recognizing that there's just a new way of marketing and these two things need to be integrated and live together.

And a term that I frequently use to bring these things together is called performance storytelling that, in my opinion, brings all this together. We can talk a little bit more about that, but I think this divisiveness in our industry has been created by us, it's been fostered by us, and has created credibility issues. Where literally you'll see job descriptions where a CEO or a board will be like, "I want a brand CMO, I want a performance CMO." And it's like we should all aim to be able to pull this all together. And the truth is that is our industry now and we have to accept that. And if we're not building the skills or have the curiosity to learn the full stack, I think our credibility as an industry is going to be very hurt.

GS: You know, Vineet, I'll a hundred percent validate that because obviously I talk to a lot of CMOs during the year and I've talked to a lot of marketing departments just in my capacity here at the MMA. And what's interesting, I always describe it like this, if you talk to the brand people, they will say... and I've heard them, I've had these conversations, I've organized these discussions. They'll say the performance people are ruining the business. They don't appreciate consumer brand equity, and they're going to destroy the long-term nature of this business. If you talk to the performance people, their viewpoint is that the brand people are full of rainbows and unicorns. They have no measurable goals and they have no idea what the hell they're doing. So it's silly because they do play a role. Brand shows up as an intangible asset on balance sheets. It sure as hell matters to a business. If we can measure it there, it matters.

VM: And I think it's ultimately a CMO's role is to bring these communities together as leaders. I mean if that's happening in our own organizations, shame on us as an industry. Ultimately, a CMO's job is to conduct an orchestra of lots of different groups. And the truth is marketing is becoming a function of specialism. It used to be tech was a bunch of specialists. I think marketing as a function is now becoming a function of specialists. And that literally the job of A CMO is to conduct this orchestra, bring it all together and help people see the big picture. And until we do that, we're going to be in a world of pain, us CMOs because we will get divided because we are dividing ourselves and this absolutely has to be addressed in our industry.

GS: Hence your career path, why you want to learn so many other areas. I got it. I understand the full stack holistic. So Vineet, lets address the first question on that, which is that brand isn't often treated as performance. You can feel free to pivot or disagree with the questions. I think some CMOs have often said, "Well, we need to do it," but you can tell they don't really have any business foundation for doing it. They don't really know what it means. They haven't really necessarily thought that through, it seems like to me sometimes. So how do you first look at brand as a practice or as a value creator for a business? Talk a little bit about that.

VM: To answer that question let's... If you don't mind, I'm going to connect the idea of brand building and performance marketing and try to talk about this holistically so we don't do the job of dividing it. So here's what I'll share with you. It is factual that eight out of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies were actually founded before the internet and digital marketing and performance marketing was created. They have built their brands with decades of advertising. So something is right about brand, and this is the first decade of my CPG career where you're not direct to consumer, but there's something in between yourself and the consumer being able to access you.

GS: And I worked on P&G business for years, so I'm totally in alignment that the power that they were able to develop and the marketing they did absolutely worked a hundred percent, check.

VM: But for every McDonald's, P&G, Coca-Cola, Apple, there are actually millions of smaller startups, especially over the last couple of decades as VC funding has entered. And a lot of this is fueling this rise of smaller startups that I would say pass through these murky waters of fame and fortune. These small startups that become really buzzy for a little while and then they silently sink into obscurity, right? You start hearing from them less over time and quietly they go away. And so these are brands that have largely used, I would say, performance marketing as a more effective way to grow. But the truth is performance marketing alone, I think we can say, is not creating powerhouse brands and there's a reason for that. It's because brand needs to be attached to performance marketing to do that. So let me just go into that for a second.

GS: Go.

VM: So big brands... For those of us that have worked across the ecosystem understand something that a lot of people don't. It's that most people for a brand are actually future customers. It sounds trite, but let's really think about what that means. Most customers that a brand will gain a lifetime business actually currently don't even know you exist. Like Chime, for instance, a lot of people know about us, but there's a lot more people that don't know about us. They're actually not even aware of the product or service we're selling. And the truth is, big brands really get this and grow by chasing both current and future customers at the same time. So what they do is they reach mass audiences through big media channels like TV and print, which by the way, from a reach standpoint are still the most profitable forms of advertising. But they are constantly building these future customer profiles.

Whereas the role of performance marketing then is to sweep up the intent that already exists in an industry. So you're not actually creating future customers, you're actually sweeping up the intent that already exists. So essentially the way I look at this is brand building is about really positioning your brand in the minds of the world and ensuring that people are aware of what your brand offers and that there is a product or service to meet an unmet need in the market. And performance marketing is about then pulling that in and sweeping up the intent and converting those customers into your business.

GS: Okay.

VM: Performance marketing alone eventually will die off and it'll become unsustainable because future customer building won't be happening. You won't be creating future demand. Brand on its own will not work eventually because at some point you need to be able to convert those customers directly into your business. And so the truth is it's all performative. They just work on different parts of your funnel and we've got to pull all of this together into a singular cohesive narrative and way of working as marketers.

GS: The MMA has been doing some research we call Brand as Performance. So we now have actual data around this. Now, to be fair to the listener, it's very limited. We've only done two studies at this point, so I don't want to overstate it, but we're starting to see some already trends in that. And it all validates just what you're saying. We know, for example, that once a consumer is favorable, the cost of acquisition is 87 percent less. It's one-sixth the cost if the customer is favorable. I think you said a little bit differently, but to not have softened the beaches or softened the entry point or something, then we've missed the point. What we don't get is that we tend to think of brand as just upper funnel, but it actually tremendously supports the lower funnel, which I think is just what you're saying. Am I getting that right?

VM: You got it. And I actually refer to this... Something I've read about is this idea of the "CAC valley of death" that happens in performance marketing without brand.

GS: Yes.

VM: Because essentially what happens is the economics of performance marketing can quickly become unsustainable just because of the way the business model is set up.

GS: Correct. What I think happened... I think what you're referring to there is very popular here for the middle teens around these direct-to-consumer companies that were doing so well. Challenge was is that many of them did not grow to big businesses. They hit a point and they stopped because they had taken off the top of the marketplace and that was all they were going to get, and there was no ability or room to grow because they didn't have an orientation of that. And I mean brand is an investment at some level. It pays now. We do brand now. We produce some sales. I think the challenge we've had, though, Vineet, is that we marketers—and this is the problem MMA has had—we don't know how to explain to the CFO the value of investing into brand. Do you guys think you've cracked that code? We think we have some indication of insight around that now, but I don't really know.

VM: I think it's a harder thing to measure in the short term. Brand is just more of an investment than it is a short-term thing. So the way I try to do it is I try to explain actually the other way around. So if you think about performance marketing alone, it is literally designed to only reach the small number of people that are actively shopping for your brand at any given time. If you really think about performance marketing, you end up fighting over a small number of active aware, or as you said, favorable shoppers. It's almost like rats in a barrel. And then this competition then over time leads to skyrocketing advertising costs in the CPM world of these bidding auctions.

And then once demand that you have is exhausted, this performance marketing traps you in spiraling acquisition costs to become unsustainable. And so by making the case that at some point if you're not building above performance marketing, creating awareness, favorability, positioning and demand, the model of performance marketing and the auction process of performance marketing at some point just stops working. And that's why you see these companies not becoming big over time because they get to a certain point and they run out of new customers or future customers. And essentially now you're bidding over a small group of interested customers and that supply demand causes costs to go up and that's the CAC valley of death. So the way I talk about a little bit is performance marketing gets us to a point, but at some point it's going to be unsustainable. So we've actually got to fuel future demand so that these two things come together and that makes the whole machine work more efficiently over time.

GS: Does that vary by sector? Let me tell you why I'm asking that question. I wonder if that varies by sector because if you take some... Let's go back to your P&G days. People are going to buy a limited number of rolls of paper towels during the year, but they're going to have a need. So some of that performance of short-term is oriented to try to be... It's a concept of recency. How do I stay in front of the consumer so that when they're ready to purchase, I have an opportunity to take them off the table and get them? What I've heard a lot of marketers don't understand is that they tend to think that their highest volume customers don't shop at the places where... There's a huge group of high category shoppers that switch a lot. And so to continue to be in the market, to be in front of them, if you can just incrementally get one more purchase, it's a good deal to have.

So I think performance can work in that regard. I think what you're saying, if I'm hearing you right, is that people don't buy Chime again and again and again per se, you buy once. You're trying to constantly seed that market so that when they are ready to make a change, a decision that you have an opportunity to make that one decision they may make over a couple of years. Is that the way to look at it? may have been the same thing, I wonder, too. I don't know. I have to think about that, but—

VM: I think it works for both. I mean if you think about it, the metric on brand that I look at the most is frankly unaided awareness. And that's a lot of what CPG does, right? It's top of mind awareness. So when you're in the category, and like you said, in CPG, the frequency is much higher. So top of mind awareness and constantly being right there when you think of a category is very, very important. But I think that's important for all categories because even though in banking services you may not be switching constantly, you're always on the lookout for wanting to find a better solution for your financial progress and well-being. And so you want to be there top of mind in an unaided way.

Those aided awareness is a strange metric because you're helping the consumer out a lot, but that unaided top of mind awareness is very critical so that when that person is ready, they know who you are and then when they go in lower in the funnel with higher intent, you're ready to sweep them up because you've got a great direct response or performance marketing engine. So I think my point is it's actually the best marketers and the brands and businesses that are going to get big over time are going to know how to do both really well, are going to be world-class on both ends of that spectrum. And I think that's how we've got to talk about this more and more. I think brand is performative. I think direct response is performative. It's all performative just doing different jobs for us.

GS: Brand is performance over time. And by the way, Vineet, I'll actually give you the data. I'm not sure if you've been in the meetings where we've talked about this so far, but we actually now know... And by the way, just so you know, this was for Ally, so pretty relevant. A hundred dollars earned today is worth $140 additional overtime. We never knew that. Nobody in marketing had built the methodology to assess that and figure it out. MMA did. I spent a year doing it with a bunch of experts and the members to figure out. And what we're doing is we're basically doing two MTA studies, one now, one 9, 12 months out and we're doing longitudinal.

We're tracking exactly the same people so we can watch their degradation in brand because part of the challenge of brand is that... I don't remember the data exactly from the study. I think brand degrades... it's 20 or 30 percent degrades every half year or something like that. You really lose a lot. People don't keep it. I'm sure some people do, but not everybody does. So that you got to constantly refresh. That way it could be back in the market with brand all the time, but we do know that just pure brand advertising over time does pay. And I don't think we've ever been able to explain to the CFO that's the real value of this.

VM: Yeah. I did see that study and I give you guys a ton of credit for the work you've done. And the more we continue to find those insights, the more we continue to do these analytics, the better off we'll be. Going back to your original question of what do I think are the challenges in our industry and we have to stop talking about these things as separate. I think sometimes we focus too much on the time horizon and that's fine. I think there is a time horizon element, but the truth is over a five-year point of view, these two things have to be orchestrated together. Otherwise, we're going to end up with a lot of what we've seen over the last 10 years. Companies that performance marketed their way up to a size and then shrunk into obscurity.

GS: Then they're stuck.

VM: And you're stuck because you forgot about the building new customer part of it. And intent only comes when they know about you. And when you're out of that fuel, your company stops growing and pulling that together is going to be key for our industry.

GS: Well, we also get into the scourge of our business when we start measuring things on the last click attribution. A friend of mine gives this example. He says, "If you're walking to a bar with an intention to buy a beer and you go up to the bartender and the bartender says, 'Hey, do you want a beer?' Does she or he get credit for the sale?"

What? Come on. That's not the way the world works. I had intention to go buy a beer, but that doesn't show up in the systems. By the way, I was actually Slacking in the background here just to make sure I have my facts right. We've only modeled the degradation of brand. We believe you lose about a third of your favorables. Those have been converted to believe in the brand. And I don't have the insight here to know if it's aided or unaided by the way in which we're assessing that, but you lose about a third over a year period.

VM: Got it. Yep.

GS: So that's a big leaky bucket. I will say, Vineet, just interesting enough, the other thing we found from this study is that this is modeled behavior. I don't have this for fact, the other stuff is for fact. But what we believe is that over a two-year period, if you run pure brand, sales will be 40 percent higher over the two-year period than if you run pure performance. And that's not to suggest it should be pure brand. I'm not doing that. What it does suggest is that you and the CEO, Chris, the CFO, that you need to make a conscious investment decision, how are we playing the game?

Are we here to make next year easier or do we have some reason that short-term needs are important to the business? That's a strategy. That's okay. And then we need to balance that mix a little bit differently. The concern the MMA has is we just don't have the tool. I don't think people have the appreciation of what you're saying. We've not really had the tools or the insight to make those decisions.

VM: Yeah, I think it's tools. I think you're right. The fact is, though, no measurement system is going to be perfect, but arming CMOs is going to be very important. I think this leads to the other thing in our industry is it also comes down to CMO credibility in the C-suite because in a world where you don't have perfect information, which is the reality of innovators, disruptors trying new things, this idea of perfect information will never exist. So sometimes we have to accept, as CMOs, it comes down to our personal credibility in the boardroom as well, to be able to influence our colleagues, which are CFOs, CEOs, board directors, investors.

Just through the credibility that we carry. And it becomes the self-fulfilling thing where we don't think we can stand because we have the perfect information. We don't have the perfect information but at the same time, when we do try to stand, we put our own industry in a tough position. We have to accept there's not going to be perfect information. We have to have the courage of our convictions and we have to have the credibility in the C-suite to be able to influence with information that's 65 percent right. And that comes down to each of us individuals and the role we play in the C-suite.

GS: So given the roles that you've had, that's a very good question, how did you build that credibility with the CFO? Lets assume that she or he was your partner in really figuring out how to invest through marketing into the business, how do you go about building that credibility, Vineet?

VM: I think it comes down to a couple of things. I think the first thing is I always say I don't look at myself as a marketer per se. I look at myself as a business executive. My last role in CPG was I was the president of a division, right? I wasn't a CMO in that role. And so I've always tried to approach the C-suite with a business executive mindset. Let me give you a couple of other examples. I sit on a couple of public boards, on one of those boards I'm a CMO that's actually on the audit committee. So I'm constantly looking at SEC filings and things like that. So I have that experience. Our CFO is awesome here at Chime and we were debating cash on the balance sheet, and I was challenging why we have that. It's like—

GS: You're equipped to have that conversation is what you're saying. I love that.

VM: Right. And you have to be able to... To me, the best C-suite executives do not see themselves as the functional head. They see themselves as a C-suite executive, a business leader. And we have to really be careful how we're building the next generation of marketers because what's demanded of us now is to be in the C-suite and be able to go across product, tech, systems architecture, data science, and financials and not play the victim card. We need to have agency of being a holistic business executive and a full-stack marketer and just carry that torch into the boardroom. And sometimes I feel like our industry gets, because we've divided ourselves, we get on this back foot, we show up to the boardroom as protecting marketing or being victims of the situation. And we have to get over that. And the more we as CMOs can role model that in the boardrooms in our organizations, I think the better that will be for our industry as a whole.

GS: Got it. Yeah, totally love that. Totally appreciate. I guess the challenge is, then, how does a person who just came up through channels as a CMO then get that broader business experience? You've actually done some advanced work in finance, right? I saw you took some courses at Harvard around finance. So obviously you did that post your original education. What'd you get your original degree in? I don't remember if I know, what was it?

VM: It was in Canada, a business degree, a business marketing degree.

GS: Okay, so you got a business marketing degree. Okay. So you've had some of that broader experience, but you went on and got additional insight around finance, which is why you could talk about cash on the balance sheet with your CFO.

VM: Yeah. You're asking how do you develop this. It comes down to, actually, I think marketing in the way it is today is one of the best places to develop a really broad skill set by the time you get to the CMO. Let me explain that for a second. So if you think about the specialist roles in marketing now, you've got MarTech people who are literally, basically marketing system architects. In the old world, you would've had a systems architect role in a CIO function building out how the data pipes and all that work.

I mean, if I'm doing a marketing career today, I do a MarTech role so that I understand technology, systems integration, data pipes, how data pipes feed into predictive models that feed the ad platforms. What a brilliant experience. So in a MarTech role, you're getting this tech infrastructure experience. Then you can take another role in performance marketing, which if you're really honest about it's almost like day trading. It's the ultimate financial role because all you're thinking about every day is if every dollar I'm spending and the marginal return on that dollar is better than the last one. If you think about it, that used to be the job of a finance team in the CPG days.

So now gets a return on investment, marginal return set of experiences in a performance role. You go to a brand role and you start to learn the power of corporate reputation, brand positioning, all of these other things that are a bit more strategic and longer term. Or you go to something like product marketing, which is getting more and more important in the technology world. And now you're attached to the product teams developing the product roadmaps, understanding the insights to create products that have network effects and virality on themselves.

So I've just described to you only four of the roles that are making up modern marketing orgs. If you can think about your career as a chess match rather than checkers and you build your way through your career in what I call a jungle gym approach versus a ladder approach, I actually think marketing is a great place to equip eventual CMOs with all the tools they need to do that if we play our cards properly. And this is why I'm very optimistic about the future of marketing, if we can crack the code on building these future marketers with multi-variant skill sets. And I think that's really important for us.

GS: Let's take a quick break. We'll be back right after this with Vineet Mehra. This is Building Better CMOs. Let's get back to my conversation with Vineet Mehra, the CMO of Chime.

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