Stakeholders Need Numbers to Realize the Value of Marketing

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Sometimes CMOs have to help other decision-makers understand that marketing entails more than advertising—particularly in the case of high-end brands.

A recent study from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Stanford University and London Business School examined 506 CEOs of large corporations and found that 25 percent have a marketing background. In this sizable minority of companies, the marketing team is likely understood and supported.

In contrast, a few years ago a study by The Fournaise Marketing Group interviewed over 1,200 decision-makers on four continents and found that “80 percent of CEOs admit that they do not really trust and are not really impressed by the work done by marketers, while in comparison, 90 percent of the same CEOs do trust and value the opinion of the work done by CFOs and CIOs.”

That’s a problem. Without support from the top, marketing teams often don’t have the resources or authority they need to do their job. According to Harvard Business Review, 74 percent of CMOs don’t believe their current responsibilities allow them to “to maximize their impact on the business”—which is likely why CMOs have the highest turnover in the C-suite.

Part of the issue is that stakeholders often mistake marketing for advertising. CMOs need to share facts and data that enable these decision-makers to conceptualize marketing as the long-term strategy it is—strategy that includes branding, research, data analysis, identifying and conversing with potential and current customers, converting customers to brand ambassadors, product packaging and launching, and yes, also advertising.

Marketing is more essential in defining a company than the quality and function of the products themselves. And in the case of high-end brands, where consumers value experience and identity over pure function, selling a particular product is less important than selling an enduring reputation.

As Jen Pike, the founder of Rockethouse Consulting, told Forbes, “Marketing should be about defining a unique position in the marketplace that allows you to charge the most money you can for the services and products you provide…Marketing is essentially the core of business strategy because it is about understanding the consumer and creating products and services that the target is willing to buy, from a brand they feel emotionally connected to and willing to trust.’

Marketing experts lead so many companies because they understand more than just the market. They also understand the consumer and the product, and they’re able to integrate all of these components within a successful growth strategy. Obviously that’s a tall and sometimes mysterious order, which is why the right marketing partner is worth a significant allowance of time and money.

But stakeholders may be unwilling to invest without a clear roadmap of how this investment will boost their bottom-line. If marketers want the respect and support of top decision-makers, they have to become excellent reporters. A CMO who can produce tangible ROI numbers is well-positioned to request more authority or a bigger budget from which to implement a spectacular new marketing strategy.

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