How active should a CEO be in directing and/or promoting marketing efforts within his or her organisation? Larger companies generally have a chief marketing officer at the helm to strategise 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 organisations, a lack of cross-communication 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 emphasise 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 the 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 a 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 organisation 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.”
If your business is very small and cannot afford a marketing specialist, you may be better off to outsource the marketing function to a company who has the depth of expertise in developing and overseeing your marketing strategy. Sometimes this can feel somewhat threatening if you feel that you have some marketing expertise, but as the Business Owner, you really have to examine if you are working in the area where you excel and can make the greatest impact. The real challenge is to find the appropriate agency or organisation to outsource the function. That is where the experience of fellow TAB Board members comes into its own as they will assist you in discovering angles and perspectives you would not have thought about before.
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.
Want more advice on marketing or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!