Marketing AnalyticsMarketing Strategy

How Marketers Will Earn the CEO’s Trust

By February 27, 2015 No Comments

I hate to say it but I’d rather it come from me, a stranger on the Internet, than from the big boss at the top of the corporate food chain: your CEO probably doesn’t trust you.

In 2012, the Fournaise Marketing Group performed a survey that found that a shocking 80% of CEOs, from both B2B and B2C companies, don’t trust and aren’t impressed with their marketing teams.

80% of CEO say they don't trust their marketing team

And unfortunately, this isn’t an image problem that can be solved over a business lunch. It’s much more systemic.

For many years, we’ve seen a trend toward ROI-driven marketing as CEOs have pushed CMOs for quantifiable business results. Marketers don’t seem to be turning this ship as definitively as executives would like.

Seventy-eight percent of CEOs think marketers lose sight of their “real job,” as they see it (generating customer demand in a business-quantifiable way), and 69% of B2C CEOs think marketers get too caught up in soft measurements (likes, shares, etc.) that CEOs judge to be interesting but not critical.

78% of CEOs think marketers lose sight of their “real job”

Meanwhile, B2B CEOs feel their marketing teams aren’t focused enough on creating targeted, effective, measurable strategies that generate incremental customer demand.

Worse still, many feel that marketing teams are taking credit for things that sales teams are actually responsible for, like prospect conversions and revenue.

This is not good, folks.

I mean, we’ve known for years that the sales team didn’t care for us, but if the CEO is on their side, we don’t stand a chance.

Unless . . . we can do what we do best, and put ourselves in the position of the audience we’re trying to reach. What does the CEO really want? What are his or her day-to-day responsibilities, career goals, and (important for your strategy) goals for the company?

According to the CEOs who participated in this survey, there are two things marketers need to do to earn their trust:

1. Create a quantifiable strategy (and “likes” aren’t enough).

Of the same group of CEOs, 90% trusted their CFOs and CIOs. Why? Because they were 100% ROI-focused in the traditional business sense, meaning every dollar spent must lead to results that directly affect the company’s profit and loss or operations. Whereas marketers, they said, seem to misunderstand the true business definition of ROI and present a wide range of softer and less meaningful metrics. Seventy-four percent of CEOs wanted their marketers to become completely focused on true ROI.

74% of CEOs wanted their marketers to become completely focused on true ROI

2. Only report on metrics that are directly related to your job and for which you can take 100% responsibility.

B2C CEOs identified four such areas of responsibility: sell-in, sell-out, market share, and marketing ROI. B2Bs identified prospect volume, prospect quality rate, marketing effectiveness rate (percent of marketing spend that directly generated prospects), and business potential generated by marketing.

Marketing in today’s digital world means being equal parts creative genius and business strategist, and no amount of aptitude for the former can make up for a bad effort at the latter.

No more smoke and mirrors. No more soft or exaggerated metrics. It’s time to slip out of your Chuck Taylors and into your Kenneth Coles and figure out how to give your CEO a reason to change his or her mind about your worth.

If there’s one reason you’re a marketer, it’s because of your uncanny ability to think like your audience, target your strategy accordingly, and persuade that audience of your product or service’s worth.

All your CEO is asking is that you do the same, in a meaningful and reliable way, for him or her.

Amanda Farmer

About Amanda Farmer

Amanda Farmer is the strategic director and writer for Dreamtown Creative, an Austin-based marketing agency specializing in the development of visual media and thought leadership content. When she and her co-founder/husband aren’t working together on client projects, they’re working together on screenwriting, filmmaking, or one of their other creative side projects. INTJ, but unexpectedly warm. Tweet her @amandathehun.