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“73% of CEOs believe marketing has little effect on increasing their organizations’ top line.”


73% of CEOs believe marketing has little effect on increasing their organizations’ top lineAsk any CEO what their Return on Investment is for their sales people, manufacturing department and most other parts of their company and they can tell you the number of the top of their heads.  But ask them what effect marketing has on sales and they can only give you vague reaction.  73% of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be.

That’s one of the key findings The Fournaise Marketing Group identified through its 2011 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program in which it interviewed more than 600 Large corporation and SMB CEOs and decision-makers in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

According to the report, the top issues CEOs have with their marketing departments are:

  1. They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management have great difficulty linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation (77%)
  2. They focus too much on the latest marketing trends, such as social media, because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers – but can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company (74%)
  3. When asked to increase their Marketing ROI, they tend to understand it as cost cutting through better economies of scale or negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies, instead of top-line growth generation: more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers (73%)
  4. They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate (72%)
  5. They bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L (70%)
  6. Unlike CFOs and Sales Forces, they don’t think enough like businesspeople: they focus too much on the creative, “artsy” and “fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on its business science, and rely too much on their ad agencies to come up with the next big idea (67%)

So who is to blame?

You really cannot blame the 73% of CEOs.  It’s not really their fault.  That’s because most marketing departments are stuck using traditional channels that do not provide measureable metrics that tie directly to the bottom line.  It’s for these reasons that when most companies need to cut budgets, marketing is one of the first departments to feel the pinch.  It’s also probably why a Marketing Champions report found that the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer is just 23 months, across a wide range of industries.  It’s analogous to being the coach of a sports team.  If the team isn’t winning, the owners swiftly bring in a new coach.


So what is the solution?

According to Jerome Fontaine, CEO & Chief Tracker of Fournaise, “Until Marketers start speaking the P&L language of their CEOs and stakeholders, and until they start tracking the business effectiveness of all their strategies and campaigns to prove they generate incremental customer demand, they will continue to lack credibility in the eyes of their CEOs and will continue to be seen more as a cost center than an asset”.

Fortunately the tools are there to do this such as marketing automation, that can integrate into your sales process software (CRM) to complete that reporting loop.  With a concentrated effort, you can develop KPI’s for your marketing team that connects directly to topline revenue performance.  The biggest thing you need to remember is not just to measure performance but also to optimize.  As your sales team’s process is reflective of how your customers buy, the same is needed of your marketing process.  It needs to reflect how your customers buy with a measurable performance metric at each step in the process.


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