"Marketers are a bunch of flaky wimps."

I have been speaking with many CEOs recently—something like 50 in the past three months while on the speaking circuit and as part of research I am doing into how great companies build products and develop go-to-market strategies.

Many CEOs tell me that the way marketing happens in their organizations is ineffective. Many CEOs say that within the management teams and employees at companies they have worked in, marketers are focused on the wrong things.

Marketing and PR people alike are not aligned with the goals of the business, they say. And, yes, one CEO even told me that marketers are a bunch of flaky wimps.

Hold on there. Why is that?


For some reason, marketers continue to insist on pitching CEOs and management teams on the need for branding initiatives. These "bold" campaigns and programs promise to "elevate" the company, they say.


The problem is that CEOs like measurement and CEOs want to measure any initiative based on the goals of the company. Where does branding fit in? It doesn't. That's why CEOs hate to get involved.

Marketers prattling on about the brand confuse the CEO, so it's no wonder marketing doesn't command respect in these companies.

While the rest of the organization is focused on metrics and revenue and ROI and reaching buyers, ineffective marketers are worried about how the T-shirts look and what font should be used on the business cards.

Marketers who obsess about brand usually focus on aesthetics over buyers. They are more interested in the color scheme of the Web site than in meeting their buyers' needs with a content marketing strategy. They care about logos, not buyers. They research color schemes instead of the market.

Countless marketers get their knickers in a twist about the outward manifestation of an organization's brand—including logos, image ads, and tchotchkes—all at the expense of buyers and what they need to understand. Well, they are flaky wimps if that's what they do!

What's really at stake—in fact, what branding's really about—is a focus on the buyer. As each buyer builds an emotional response to a company, that emotion becomes the brand-image for that person.

Fortunately, some great marketers understand that the provision of quality content based on thought leadership does more to build brand than pretty logos, cool Web design, and hip color choice.

Our challenge as marketers becomes taking that understanding and selling it to the CEO and the management team in terms that they understand, like ROI and dollars and cents.


The only way is to show a clear path from any marketing initiative directly to what matters to a CEO such as revenue and profit.

The goals of the marketing department must be aligned with the goals of the entire organization. Marketers can't just wimp out and work on the flaky stuff.

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image of David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott, B2B marketing powerhouse and fandom strategist, spotted the real-time marketing revolution in its infancy and wrote five books about it including The New Rules of Marketing and PR, with more than 400,000 copies sold in English and available in 29 languages.

Now, David says the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of superficial online communications. Tech-weary and bot-wary people are hungry for true human connection. Organizations have learned to win by developing what David calls a "Fanocracy"—tapping into the mindset that relationships with customers are more important than the products they sell to them.

Prior to starting his own business, he was vice president of marketing for several publicly traded B2B technology and information companies.