The marketer's job never has been easy. And, in recent years, we have been faced with more obstacles to overcome than ever before.
From a tough business environment that has prompted some companies to cut marketing spending, to an explosion of digital marketing channels that requires us to stay abreast of a sea of trends and influences, and a heightened focus on analytics—and, ultimately, a verifiable return on investment—no wonder a CMO's average tenure is much shorter than that of other C-level executives.
Within some companies, Marketing is viewed solely as a cost center, an expense. As a result, many marketers meet resistance when having their budgets approved by Finance. But Marketing is an asset that drives revenue, and it is vital to the overall growth of a company—which is why it should be important to your CEO, your executive team, and your board of directors.
Accordingly, you need to position marketing to your CEO in terms of the revenue it delivers, not the budget and program costs. To make that happen, you must align your marketing strategy with major company initiatives, and you must have a plan in place that is measurable and can demonstrate an impact on bottom-line sales.
Here are some best-practices to follow to achieve to those objectives.
1. Align your plans with company goals
With the influx of channels now available to B2B marketers, getting caught up in the tactics is easy. But to do so would be a mistake. You want to position marketing in a strategic light that demonstrates to your executive team that you are not simply executing a series of unrelated tactics but, rather, following a plan that aligns your marketing objectives with company goals.
Today's breakneck pace of business makes following any routine challenging, but be sure to stick to the proper sequence:
- Review business goals.
- Formulate marketing strategy.
- Execute tactical plans.
It doesn't hurt to point out what tactics your competitors are employing in their marketing strategies. Talk about what your competitors are doing successfully and what they can do better. If you show that your marketing efforts are a way to be a leader in your industry, it will be easier to convince executives that failure to execute your strategy will result in the company's being left behind.
2. Measurement is key
Developing and executing a marketing strategy is just one part of the equation. How do you know it's successful? Simple: you must be able to demonstrate that what you are doing is moving the needle on company goals.
It's time to embrace the analytics available to B2B marketers today, and proving success to executive teams by presenting data (including contacts and inquiries, impressions, and other measurements that show the value of your marketing initiatives) and results.
Don't forget, however, that it isn't enough to hand the C-suite an analytics report and expect it to see the benefits of the bottom line. Eliminate all the marketing jargon and translate results into terms executives will be able to digest.
3. Become friends with Sales
One of the jobs of the marketing department to make the sales department more successful. Accomplishing that is easier when you have a good relationship. Work together to understand what Sales needs—and what assistance Marketing can provide—to help the company meet its goals.
By showing alignment with Sales, you demonstrate that Marketing is committed to helping the company meet its objectives.
4. Be the voice of the customer
As marketers, you cannot sit in an ivory tower. You need to have your finger on the pulse of your customers.
Understand what your customers are doing, what challenges they are facing, and what they need to be more successful. Use research, focus groups, conversations, and discussions to gain insight, and share that knowledge with your executive team.
5. Market your successes to the C-suite
Marketers are great at promoting their companies, products, and services. But we often neglect to market ourselves and our accomplishments internally. Share your successes. Doing so will demonstrate not only where your marketing dollars have gone but also how they have helped contribute to company goals.
* * *
CEOs—and your executive team as a whole—have the ability to facilitate the success of your marketing organization. By proving the value and worth of your department, you will earn yourself a seat at the table and cement marketing's role as a contributor to business goals.