Behind B2B #20: Todd Latham  

  • January 31, 2023
  • Reading time: 4 min

For the 20th instalment of Behind B2B, we’re speaking to Todd Latham, CEO at Divido.


With experience across multiple disciplines, Todd Latham has become an expert in all things B2B throughout his successful career. We sat down with Todd and discussed how being unsure of what you want to do when you’re younger can actually be a good thing – and why businesses are not as rational as we like to think they are.

How did you end up in the world of B2B? What long and winding (or short!) path did you take to get here?

I’ve basically always worked in B2B! When I graduated from university, I took a temping job that converted into a marketing job, filling in database entries for a school furniture company based in West London. Actually, the thing that gave me an edge early on in my career was working in a small company. Because, when you eventually move to a bigger company, you then see how all the dots join up. It was really helpful.

Next, I took a finance role at Microsoft. My job was to forecast the volumes at all the call centres (which is a dark art – if anyone tells you there’s any science behind it, they’re wrong!). But it was an interesting job. When you work in finance, while it’s internal, it’s also B2B because your customers are your internal stakeholders. It’s the same principle as B2B marketing: you need to know your customer, you need to understand what their needs are, and you need to be able to deliver value.

I then moved to Amex – spending time travelling around the world visiting call centres – before moving to Currencycloud. When I joined, it really was chaotic. Not necessarily in a bad way. We just didn’t have the right resources to go and get stuff done. And when you’re working in financial services, you’re regulated, which creates a lot of pressure. But over time you start filling those gaps, and then you can start improving.

One of things we did really well is we always started from the top. We’d say: here’s our purpose, here’s our vision of what we’re trying to achieve, these are the ways we’re going to go and win in the market, and these values we’re going to apply to get there. And then that cascaded down into a strategy. Whereas at most larger organisations, people tend to operate from the bottom up, creating singular goals that can feel disjointed. Everyone’s creating their own plans and silos, rather than having a really strong first-principles approach.

After Currencycloud was sold to Visa, I decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge. In April 2022 I started my current role as CEO at retail finance platform Divido.

What did you actually want to be when you were younger? And how do you think that this has shaped your work today?

As an eight-year-old boy I wanted to be an astronaut! No one told me I had to be good at chemistry though. So that got crossed off the list very quickly.

As a teenager – and I can’t figure out if our school system is good or bad for this – I wanted to be a businessman like my dad. But at that age, you don’t really know if it’s the right career for you. I certainly had no idea what to do when I left university, which was probably why I did a bit of finance, a bit of marketing, and a bit of product and strategy.

I think that dabbling in areas that interested me ended up shaping my career. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, but with a commercial edge.

It’s cheesy, but actually what really motivates me today is helping build the careers of Divido employees. And watching them blossom and grow. I really love when you see people take on a challenge, overcome it, and then go on to the next challenge. That’s a great thing.

What’s the best – or perhaps most interesting – B2B campaign, content or other work you’ve been involved in, during your career?

I’m not very good at talking about campaigns because I think brand is often a much bigger deal!

For example, back in 2016 when I was at Currencycloud, we undertook a rebrand. This included transforming from having a ‘safe’ colour scheme to a bright palette of pinks and oranges. It was bold – very bold! At the time, everyone’s brand was blue or green, because they’re colours you can trust. So we wanted to really stand out.

Thinking back to my Amex days, we ran some fun campaigns. Amex is such a big brand, it is all about nuts and bolts lead generation. We’d do things like send people a corkscrew with a note explaining that your bottle of wine will arrive once you’ve set up a meeting with our sales representative. Or, we’d send them a remote control and add that the car will follow. You can certainly have a lot of fun when you have a big budget to play with!

What’s the best B2B campaign of all time, in your eyes? And what does ‘great’ B2B marketing look like, to you?

My first thought here – although it’s not strictly a campaign – is the phrase: ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM’. To me, that’s one of the most powerful marketing messages that’s ever existed.

There are two schools of thought in B2B marketing, right? One is that businesses are rational, they’ll buy the best product out there, and that they’ll do an RFP. But we all know that’s not the case. They’ll still make whatever decision they want to make because people buy emotionally.

The truth is, they’ll buy because everyone else has bought it. (Salesforce is an example of this – the world’s worst product, that everyone has!) People will buy what they see their competitors buy because it makes them feel safe. Therefore, the whole job of B2B marketing is to de-risk the purchase for that buyer. 

We’re giving you the power to axe one B2B marketing cliché forever. What would you go for?

It kind of follows on from my last answer: that businesses are rational and will buy the best product out there. They aren’t. And they don’t.

A good example to explain this is the Microsoft feature creep. Apple started to win market share because they realised you didn’t need to have all these whistles and bells in products like Excel/Word/PPT. People simply didn’t use them.

So many companies have a tendency to build bloated products. It’s better to do a few things flawlessly than try and be all things to all people.

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