Why Marketo Spent a Year Looking for the Biggest Pain of Marketers

Phil Fernandez, Jon Miller and David Morandi started Marketo — now the world’s leading independent supplier of marketing software — in 2006.

Before writing a single line of code, the partners spent the first year interviewing senior marketers about their needs and pain points.

They started the company cold calling CMOs asking them which problems kept them up at night.

They recall a CMO telling a tale of how she was brought to tears by her board because she was challenged to provide information on marketing ROI for which she did not have the answers.

The three partners created Marketo to help answer those questions. When they incorporated the company to create marketing automation software in 2007, the team felt like they really understood the customer pain points.

Phil Fernandez, the company’s CEO, who self qualifies as insanely curious was always very concerned with the human side of business. They wanted to build a company that was ultra-easy to work with and transparent in its technology and dealings with customers.

Through extensive interviews, they managed to hone in on a large pain point for enterprise CMOs. Large enough for them to sign companies like Samsung Electronics, McKesson and Intel as clients, generate almost $60 million of revenue a year and file for an IPO in 2013.

For Marketo, real understanding of the pains of a buyer was worth investing a full year of research before building a solution.

Don’t rush problem discovery. Don’t settle for a low-impact problem.

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