Marketing Departments: How To Gain The Trust Of Your CEO

Bad news CMOs and Marketing Managers, your CEO doesn’t trust you. Here’s what you can do about it.

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CEO trust marketing

A study by the Fournaise Group reveals 3 key insights about how CEO’s think about marketing – and the news isn’t good:

  • 78% of Marketers “lose sight of what their job is: to generate more customers/demand for their products or services.”
  • 80% of CEO’s don’t trust the work done by marketing (while 91% of CEO’s trust CFO’s and CIO’s).
  • 75% of CEO’s think marketers don’t understand what’s meant by “ROI” or “performance”.

When 80% of CEO’s can’t trust the marketing done by their own company to increase the demand for the products/services of a company, something is wrong.

So how do you help build trust between your marketing department and the CEO?

The Challenges of Building Trust

New Social Media Sites

New platforms emerge constantly. Too often marketers are ready to jump to the newest social media site and attempt to gain a following without actually determining the business purpose behind such a move. 69% of B2C CEO’s think marketers are stuck in a social media bubble where the returns are simply “likes, followers, and retweets.” These numbers don’t support the primary mission of increasing demand for the product.

New Technology Platforms

It’s not just social media sites CEO’s have a problem with. 71% of B2B CEO’s think marketers are too focused on the newest technology platform. Marketing automation, lead management, CRM’s are all technologies that marketers want but can’t properly present the value to CEO’s. Therefore, CEO’s remain distrustful of these new platforms.

The Disconnect

CEO’s clearly believe there is a disconnect between the marketing department and the way the rest of the business operates. A majority of CEO’s believe that marketers don’t even understand the objective of their departments. If this is the case, it means that it would be nearly impossible for CMO’s to properly articulate their activity.

5 Ways To Build Trust With Your CEO

Understand Your Purpose

Marketing and sales exist to generate demand for the business they represent. They aren’t there to build “likes” and “followers” for their business. Those are nice metrics but how do they impact the business? Did those “likes” translate into sales? Remember your primary purpose when engaging in social media.

Learn How To Report Properly

Reporting is key to making sure the CEO understands the effectiveness of your activity and trusts what you’re doing. Simply using terms like “ROI” and “performance” aren’t enough. Do you understand the true investment that went into the marketing action you performed? Do you understand the return the activity generated? If you’re unable to answer those questions, you aren’t going to gain the trust of the CEO. The reason CFO’s and CIO’s are highly trusted is because they can report those metrics in just about everything they do. Make sure you’re reporting your department’s activity in a similar way.

Set Manageable and Relevant KPIs

Ultimately, a single marketing action is difficult to peg directly to revenue. So that’s why we recommend creating a marketing KPI dashboard that shows relevant metrics directly influencing the end goal. You can get buy in from the CEO and other leaders when creating this dashboard and it can serve as both a method of increasing department transparency and showcasing your department’s worth to the organization. Don’t be so desperate to report your results that you start reporting irrelevant metrics or metrics that aren’t even aligned with your department (such as sales figures).

Don’t Jump On The Bandwagon

Don’t constantly promote the newest social network and tout it as “the next big thing.” The reality is there are more social networks that fail than succeed, and if you promote one too early, you run the risk of losing your credibility. It’s ok to get your name reserved and run some tests to see if it is a viable network for your business. Remember: it is not the size of your network that matters. If you cannot move them to generate demand for the business you represent (translation: grow revenue), they are not worth the time or effort.

Support Strategy

Tools are great, but you have to remember that they should first and foremost support the strategy of the organization and your marketing department. Just because there is a new CRM or lead management software does not mean your company needs it. Strategy creates differentiation and separation from competitors – not tools. Never adapt your strategy to fit a tool.

Final Thoughts

CEO’s high degree of mistrust of marketing is something that can be fixed. Understanding the marketing department’s role relative to the organization, learning to report your results, and not getting distracted by the latest and greatest network or tool are fundamental steps to building credibility. Ultimately, your department still must generate results but gaining trust will help you achieve that goal.

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