Almost every company in the world is intent on business growth and establishing strategies to achieve this. Modern marketing has enormous potential to drive a business’s bottom line, yet while this should be obvious, its role remains misunderstood and undermined at board level by sceptical CFOs and CIOs who can’t see the contribution it makes to the business.
This tension in the C-suite is one of marketing’s greatest frustrations, but it can be overcome. Here are three approaches to persuading your senior exec team to get on board.
1. Become The Trusted Advisor
Today’s CMO has a plethora of tools not only to deliver a winning marketing strategy, but also to deliver business goals. More than any department, marketing has most potential to influence growth and ROI.
Although some are yet to be convinced of this, if CMOs make full use of the resources at their disposal they could become incredibly influential in a boardroom setting. For example, tech tools provide ready access to real-time metrics on marketing’s impact on growth, sales and lead generation. CMOs can tap into the wealth of data available and use this knowledge to share key metrics that demonstrate their work and guide others towards understanding their valuable role. By becoming trusted advisors, CMOs can convert sceptics to supporters and provide counsel on overcoming business challenges through smart marketing tactics.
Tech innovation holds the keys to success in more ways than one. No one can ignore the fact that digital technology and changes in social behaviour are affecting the way we do business. Executives need to understand that ‘digital’ isn’t just a department or responsibility of marketing, but a layer that runs through every part of their company. It can help brands get closer to customers.
The CMO is perfectly placed to lead the digital transformation of their organisation, since they should have an unrivalled understanding of their audiences’ wants and needs as well as being adept with various digital technologies. They can use these skills to create seamless customer experiences, which ultimately boost a company’s revenues and profits.
The best way to persuade boards to empower marketing departments to drive technological transformation is to guide colleagues through the practicalities of this transformation and share bold examples of what happens when other businesses have done what you are proposing – or, perhaps more importantly, what happens when businesses fail to adopt such strategies. Would your CEO rather move with the times like film industry pioneers Netflix or die out like Blockbuster?
2. Align Marketing With Business Strategy
Board members are mostly concerned with the fundamentals; achieving increased revenues and profits, customer satisfaction and brand power. Often marketing is viewed as a soft activity that’s not commercially focused, so you need to demonstrate that CMOs can bring about as much operational efficiency and value as a company’s CIO.
To ensure that your marketing strategy delivers results, align marketing goals with overarching business goals, whether that’s operational efficiencies or faster growth. In the C-suite, explain in plain language exactly how the marketing strategy will help deliver strategic aims. Behind-the-scenes, establish systems to support your efforts and use technology to automate processes wherever you can. Make sure you provide updates on progress and evidence marketing’s impact to improve your visibility.
3. Measure It, Manage It
CFOs, CIOs, CEOs--all board members love numbers so make sure you come to meetings armed with metrics that demonstrate your progress to objectives. You need to show that your department does more than create and distribute pretty brochures and ‘stuff’ on Twitter and Facebook. Consider ways to consolidate key business information, customer information and analytics centrally and systematise your marketing and measurement.
With the right systems and support in place, key data can be easily managed and accessed to help you streamline reporting to peers. Use in- or out-of-house tech or support to create real-time reports and case studies that show the impact of your marketing activity on the business strategy. Use this information to reveal how your department is driving returns and explain what’s next.
While we’re all fully embraced in digital technology at home, it’s sometimes hard for senior management to grasp how it can be applied in the workplace to achieve business growth. It’s vital that CMOs convince their boards to embrace digital marketing: if they fail to innovate, their business could be the next to die.