How to Make the Case for Marketing When Your CEO Wants to Ignore It.


That’s true. Once, sales had it covered. Information wasn’t easily available to customers, and they didn’t really need it. They relied on their reps for education.  They made their purchases and it was business as usual.


But a funny thing happened on the way to the order form. Buyer behavior changed. Now a Google search can provide a customer with a wealth of information.


That has had an impact on business. But CEOs aren’t always ready to acknowledge it. Your challenge will be to change that. For the good of their companies, CEOs have to shed that resistance. 


In this post we’ll show you how to make your case for marketing. Changing buyer habits are opening up profitable opportunities for savvy CMOs.


Convince the CEO Marketing Is Mission-Critical:

You know marketing is a critical component on the path to success. But it demands resources. You need dollars and you need staff.


Such requests are not always welcome, especially when the decision maker sees no need. You have to make a sales pitch to the chief executive officer.


Start by assessing the CEO’s knowledge of marketing and its overall role in business.


Show Your CEO How Buyer Behavior Has Changed:

When you begin to make your case, explain what’s changed. In any industry now, customers can educate themselves. They don’t need sales reps for that anymore.


This single major change in buyer behavior increases the importance of marketing. It’s vital to prove this to the CEO. Some won’t believe their buyers have changed. Some will believe trade show attendance and prints ads are enough. They’re not.


Use Facts to Persuade the CEO:

Speak only with the support of data. Make customer information the core of your conversation with the CEO. Evidence solidifies your point.


How does the company stand versus competitors? Is there a gap? If your data shows the company is falling behind, you demonstrate a competitive threat. That would strengthen your argument in favor of marketing. 


If you show the company is leading, you’ve spotted an opportunity competitors haven’t seen. This is a change of buyer behavior you can exploit for greater market share. This, too, makes a strong case for marketing.


Project a financial return for the marketing investment. Many people overlook this, and it requires due diligence. Build a real rationale, develop a proper budget, create a sound financial plan. You can set the CEO’s expectations for return on the dollar over time.


Quick Tip:  Creating a realistic budget will boost your credibility with the CEO.  Use our B2B Marketing Budget Sizing Calculator to get your ideal budget number.  Click here to download the tool.


 Avoid Pitfalls, Bring Allies:

The CEO is unlikely to want to start or strengthen a marketing department. Otherwise, it would have happened already. 


This is not a time to go it alone. When a CMO approaches the CEO directly and individually, it fails almost every time. You risk looking like you have a personal agenda.


You’re working to strengthen the company, and that should be clear. Build a coalition of other top team members to emphasize that point.


Refine your presentation as you assemble your group. Use the same pitch to them that you will use for the CEO. You need the sales leader, the CFO and the product leader. Get their agreement. Go together to meet with the CEO.


Buyer behavior is changing. It’s time industry leaders made some changes, too. One is to leverage the strength of a marketing department.


Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.
Learn more about Greg Alexander >

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




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