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Would you like to be perceived by the C-suite as someone with strong business acumen? Do you want to be viewed as influential, credible, and relevant to business?

Of course you do! Who wouldn't? Yet, only 1 in 5 marketers is perceived that way.

What's so special about them? It's the language they use. You can spot them right away. They're the marketers who talk about marketing's impact on market share, category growth, product adoption, pipeline contribution, customer value...

Other marketers, on the other hand, talk about programs that result in brand awareness, website/event traffic, opens, likes, and shares. It's not that those metrics aren't important; it's just that they don't convey to the C-suite the impact of Marketing on the business.

The 2015 Marketing Performance Management Study, as well as studies from Fournaise and Eloqua, have found that 80% of marketers use the word "brand" in their marketing vocabulary and only half (51%) of marketing departments have any form of revenue targets, even though revenue growth is cited as the most important metric for CEOs.

When your communication with executives takes on a language in which the key performance metrics are primarily brand-related, you risk being perceived as a brand marketer rather than a business marketer.

Which one are you? If the following phrases echo those you hear from your leadership team, it's likely that your CEO perceives you as a brand marketer:

  • "Our marketing organization focuses too much on the creative and doesn't think enough like businesspeople."
  • "We're bombarded by data and reports from Marketing, but we can't relate any of it to the company financials or measures of success."
  • "Marketing is always asking for more money, but can never explain how much incremental business the money will generate."
  • "Marketing is always talking about brand, brand value, brand equity, but they never link marketing activities back to revenue, customer acquisition, market share, sales, etc."
  • "Marketing talks about the latest marketing trends and how important it is to harness them, but they can't demonstrate how those trends will help generate more business for the company."
  • "When we ask Marketing to be more accountable and increase ROI, they mainly understand it as reducing costs in some way rather than being more effective."

Do any of those sound familiar? If not, feel free to stop reading now. But if so, then it's time to transform your "marketing language" into a "business language."

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM