How active should a CEO be in directing and/or promoting marketing efforts within his or her organization? Larger companies generally have a chief marketing officer at the helm to strategize and oversee marketing campaigns, inbound and outbound marketing, content marketing, digital marketing, etc. Small and mid-sized businesses might have one or two individuals who report to the CEO on marketing efforts.
Whatever the situation, there’s definitely a place for active participation from the company’s leader. Here are suggestions on what the CEO can do to help refine marketing efforts and ensure greater success in this area:
Make sure marketing and sales activities are aligned. In some organizations, a lack of cross-communications between sales and marketing can lead to friction between departments that should be working closely together—and a subsequent drop in leads, conversions and closings. As CEO, you can emphasize the importance of alignment by inviting the sales team to provide input on “how better to frame a branding message that genuinely connects with prospects.” This can include involving sales “in the actual creation of [marketing] materials, thus reflecting their own experience in the field.”
In the same respect, a CEO who understands how sales leads are generated can do more to see that the marketing budget gets spent on the most effective sales channels—and require both sales and marketing to produce metrics that justify every major expenditure of time and money.
Know your product inside and out. When it comes to your company’s product or service line, how deep does your knowledge go?
Some CEOs brought in as “hired guns” may feel their role as figurehead or “chief inspiration officer” is more important than in-depth product knowledge. But a leader who knows the company’s offerings inside and out is better equipped to understand where marketing efforts fall short—and why customer response may sometimes be lacking. Then he or she can ensure there’s a greater focus on refining the product line (based in part on customer response) and adjusting the branding message to go along with these refinements.
Push marketing to clearly differentiate your business from the competition. In most cases, winning sales depends on having a clear message that details how your product offering differs from the competition. As company leader, you can mandate (or at least strongly advocate) a greater emphasis on research and development, strategic innovation and customer input in order to achieve market-leader status.
Push your marketing team to define key differentiating factors. Work with the marketing team to ensure “they are conscientious about determining what the unique attributes are,” says marketing expert Renee Yeager, and that they “are continually reevaluating to make sure it is still the best for the current market.”
Build a great marketing team. To get the most effective marketing results, you need to have a talented and creative team in place. A CEO who places a high value on such recruitment efforts will get his or her message across to HR or others charged with hiring new personnel: Marketing matters in our organization and we want to recruit those men and women who excel at it.
In the same respect, if there’s a CMO at the helm, give this individual your full support. “Firms with better marketing outcomes tend to have CMOs with greater continuity (on average nearly a year longer),” contends veteran marketing officer Kimberly A. Whitler. Savvy CEOs understand that “high levels of CMO turnover are not good for business results.”
Every CEO copes with a multitude of priorities, but those who put marketing at or near the top of the list can make a significant difference in the quality and effectiveness of efforts in this key area.
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