Brand and Demand: Amy Scissons on Building Agile Marketing Organizations

Mat Zucker, Senior Partner at Prophet, speaks with Amy Scissons, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Russell Reynolds Associates, on the importance of building an agile marketing organization.  

Amy Scissons is the Chief Marketing and Communications officer at Russell Reynolds Associates, overseeing global marketing and communications for the leading executive search and leadership advisory firm.  

Scissons previously was at Mercer, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer and led marketing operations in more than 100 cities and 41 countries for the global human resources consulting firm. She brings over 20 years of experience across several industries and global markets. Scissons specializes in integrated marketing, demand generation, customer-centric digital and data-driven marketing and leading high-performance teams.  

Mat Zucker: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often being asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact? 

Amy Scissons: The expectations around marketing delivered ROI have evolved since taking the role. Previously, this role was focused on communications and driving colleague engagement, but now it’s shifted to driving topline growth for the firm while carving out greater differentiation within the market. In particular, professional services and leadership advisory is a relatively homogeneous marketplace as we deliver similar services to our competitors. Differentiation is key to ensuring we continue to win in the market.  

To measure our impact, we look at marketing-attributed revenue, particularly inbound leads driven by digital or other channels. We also look at how effectively we sell differentiated service bundles tied to our client needs. To measure the success of our business development enablement, we look at win rates and the service portfolio’s overall growth.  

MZ: Within your organization, how do you partner with other internal business units and teams to unlock new opportunities for driving growth? Has this evolved in recent years?   

AS: Growth opportunities are a shared responsibility among business development, strategy and marketing. For example, our strategy team will identify organic growth opportunities. At the same time, our client-facing colleagues will highlight new business challenges our clients face, while marketing will use data and digital to identify new growth opportunities based on engagement. We collectively evaluate them as an organization and action them accordingly.  

MZ: Last year, we published a report, “Brandand Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” which speaks to the tensions between brand and demand marketing and why working in silos harms performance. Both are critical functions that need to work together to enable success. How do you balance brand and demand within your marketing organization?  

AS: Within our marketing and communications organization, we made a significant shift to our operating model and chose to build out more specialized roles within the team. This shift has changed how we can execute and the speed at which we can deliver. As a result, we are becoming much more creative in presenting our insights and data, which gives executives ways to interact with our insights and take them to the boardroom. For example, we may not always win the thought leadership topic game, but we can win on how we deliver our thought leadership. By shifting how the team is structured, we’ve become more agile, allowing us to do some brand, demand, and business development enablement work.  

MZ: Now that you have this new operating model in place, are people still wired in the old way, hybrid, or have they fully embraced this new way of working? 

AS: Yes, we have adapted nicely to the new way of working, though it took time to map out workflows and ensure team members trust one another to deliver their part of the work. The briefing process is key every time we take on a new project. We establish the “why” of our project and challenge ourselves to think of creative ways to deliver the work.   

MZ: What kind of feedback do you get from your people regarding their careers and where they are in their journey? 

AS: We are a relatively new team. We are in our second full year as a fully formed marketing leadership team. We are all excited about the work we are doing. I give my team a lot of autonomy and space to innovate. Some of them are interested in AI, so they have dedicated time to play around with these tools. With AI, I’ve told them first to find a really small way to use it so that they can show the organization that we are thinking about it. The team quickly came up with the idea to build screensavers with our logo using AI, and now our consultants have this up on their desktops. Little things like that help build energy around innovation and move the organization forward, which excites the team. It feels like a small thing, but it gives people permission to experiment.  

MZ: Our research found that experimentation and a test-and-learn mindset are not nice to have but a must-have because if you only use benchmarks to measure success, you will fail. How does this concept sit with you? 

AS: I 100% agree. We do things we would never think to invest in as experiments and are always surprised to see the growth and opportunities that emerge. For instance, our Redefiners  podcast has been incredibly successful, but we did not predict that would be the case. I never thought we would see 25,000 downloads per episode in the first or third season. And because of this test, our podcast has become a successful investment in the Russell Reynolds Associates brand and is now a fully operational demand-generation tool.  

Test and learn is built into how we work. Some tests did not perform that well. For example, we thought this really cool digital pitch tool would completely change our win rate, but it didn’t, so we pivoted and killed it quickly.  

MZ: What big takeaway do you want to share with other CMOs and marketing leaders?  

AS: Creating an environment and a team that can be very agile is incredibly important, but you need to make sure you also have the right technology to support it. After all, much of your budget goes to your marketing technology stack. Having the right operating model is also important. You need to create a model that enables your marketers to work and act differently and not get stuck in the ways of working that are not working. It’s essential to challenge the organization, innovate, do things competitors aren’t doing and let ideas come from everywhere. Because my team is so agile, we can act on and respond to new ideas and bring them to market faster. 

MZ: What are the biggest challenges you believe other CMOs and marketing leaders face today and will continue to face in the next few years? 

AS: I am convinced that marketing is going through a massive disruption. AI will transform marketing, and the marketers who understand how to use AI, develop prompts and put them in workflows will see a lot of success. The challenge with the CMO role is that it is very broad and has high expectations. You only have a little time to think, transform, and drive change. But the CMOs and marketing leaders who figure out how to use AI in their workflows will be more productive and thrive.  

About Mat Zucker 

Mat is a senior partner and co-lead of Prophet’s Marketing and Sales practice. He helps clients transform digitally, finding new areas of growth in marketing, content and communications. Previously, Mat was the Global Executive Creative Director at Razorfish, served as Chief Creative Officer at OgilvyOne New York and held leadership roles at R/GA and In addition to helping clients creatively connect and engage with their customers, he hosts two podcasts, Cidiot and Rising.   

Are you interested in talking with Mat? You can contact him, here


In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.

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