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How Marketers Can Ally With CEOs: Do the Math

Marketers ally CEOs

Most CEOs don’t think their investments in marketing show measurable results. According to a recent survey, 73% of CEOs believe marketers don’t understand finance, and can’t prove marketing’s financial contribution.

Thus it’s more important than ever before for CMOs and marketers to build a strong partnership with CEOs and the C suite. That’s essential to receiving the budget marketers want, and respect in the boardroom.

The modern CEO has perhaps the most complex job in human history, facing myriad challenges every day. Throughout history, great leaders create simplicity out of complexity. It’s essential for CMOs and marketers to simply communicate marketing’s agenda, and prove its financial contribution.

Here are 6 essentials for forging a stronger CEO/marketing alliance:

1. Align Goals

Marketing must align its efforts to those of the top leadership. This might seem obvious, but the reality is shocking. According to a survey by Booz Allen Hamilton, 71% of respondents at underperforming businesses said leadership decisions were being second-guessed.

2. Focus on Facts, Not Feelings

Marketing lives in a parallel universe where emotions are very powerful, such as persuading consumers and prospects. But feelings are irrelevant to the CEO. Fortify yourself with facts and figures, and focus on quantitative reports and presentations.

3. Give Predictability

CEOs are interested in the future, not the past. In your communications with the CEO, sell predictions. They’re most interested in learning about your predictions for customer behavior, market share, marketing ROI, etc.

4. Give Probabilities

CEOs know that few things in life are certain, especially in marketing, so focus on probabilities rather than certainties. It’s said that marketing often over promises and under delivers, while sales under promises and over delivers. So couch your predictions in probabilities.

5. Focus on Milestones

Contrary to popular belief, CEOs rarely make a big bets. Even wildly successful innovations, such as the iPad, were developed through a series of small, calculated bets. From launching products to growing market share, focus on small victories, which over time yield big results.

6. Keep It Simple

Finally, make performance reports and future projections easy to understand. 70% of C-level executives said marketing is under greater financial scrutiny than ever before, according to a recent study. Give simple answers to complex questions by avoiding qualitative marketing language, and focusing on quantitative financials.

Conclusion – business is more complex than ever before, but the simple truth is that it’s all about one thing: money. For marketers to build a strong alliance with the CEO, and get the budgets they need, keep it simple, and focus on the dollar.

By Jeff Winsper

Jeff is the President of Black Ink and offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.

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