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87: CMO Tom Klein on marketing automation and the utterly original brand personality of MailChimp

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with Tom Klein, chief marketing officer at MailChimp, the world’s largest marketing automation platform. He worked at Nabisco and Chanel before landing at MailChimp, a company he long admired, and he is an authority on digital marketing, e-commerce, and brand marketing.

During the podcast, Klein talks about his views on the best use of marketing automation: “I see automation as doing the things automation is good at and, ideally, it’s opening a window for a marketing person to really put heart and soul into communication.”

Later in his discussion with Alan, Klein touched on where he believes marketing is heading and where automation fits in. “What’s fascinating is, in many ways, everybody’s being turned into a marketer…all of marketing is being democratized,” says Klein. “I feel like marketing and communication is just going to keep getting better and better. And I think it’s up to us to take advantage of those capabilities of our customers, and meanwhile, on the marketing automation front, let the robots do the stuff that the robots are best at.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Klein on his background and how he ended up at MailChimp. (1:23)
  • Klein seems to always finds himself at the intersection of marketing and technology: “Marketing, a lot of times, lives in the future.” (4:32)
  • Klein describes his approach to marketing automation. (5:58)
  • Klein’s natural curiosity enables him to move at the pace of change: “I’ve always been interested in what’s new.” (8:03)
  • Klein on where MailChimp is headed as an emerging marketing platform. (11:00)
  • Klein talks about staying true to the brand he inherited: “I had to keep it weird.” (16:20)
  • Klein discusses MailChimp’s creative heritage and philosophy — “We lead with culture.” (24:29)
  • Klein on the experiences that have shaped him: “I always find the most defining experiences are my failures.” (30:13)