There are two common approaches:
- Tell the CEO your game plan upfront
- Fly under the radar, execute, and update as requested
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Let’s explore them.
As a deeper resource to assess your marketing strategy, download our workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the Marketing Strategy section and start by reviewing “Is My Marketing Strategy a Problem?” on page 158 of the PDF workbook.
The challenge is that most CEOs did not come from a sales or marketing background, so they don’t fully understand marketing. The CEO is likely to see marketing as a cost center, not a revenue-generating asset. If the company isn’t hitting the number, your budget is first on the chopping blocks.
Flying Under the Radar
This is definitely the high-risk, high-reward option. Things can either go really good or really bad. Really good and you’re a genius. Really bad and start updating your LinkedIn profile for recruiters.
If you’re going to take this route, you better:
- Be sure your strategy is complete and dead on
- Complete extensive buyer research to understand the customer’s needs, wants, goals, and objectives
- Align your Lead Generation strategy with your buyer research
- Develop content that delivers the right message, to the right person, at the right time, via the right channel
- Execute your demand gen campaigns flawlessly
- Track Marketing ROI on all your demand gen activities
- Capture Revenue Attribution to tie marketing efforts to revenue
- Be agile – learn quickly from your mistakes and pivot when necessary
- Implement Lead Management to nurture leads until sales-ready
- Track the leads you send sales through to win or loss
- Be ready to report on all of it when asked
I don’t recommend this option.
The second approach is to be transparent from the beginning. Bring your marketing strategy and budget to the CEO and request feedback and approval. Explain to him how you plan to:
- Drive brand awareness
- Fill the top of the funnel
- Deliver qualified leads to the field
Be prepared to:
- Describe your marketing strategy
- Walk him or her through your demand generation activities
- Explain your mix of outbound and inbound
- Identify your revenue attribution approach to tie marketing activities to closed-won revenue
- Outline your budget in detail and the expected ROI on marketing spend.
I recommend this option.
Most importantly, you must learn the C-suite language. Most marketing leaders cannot speak the P&L language of their CEOs and stakeholders. You need to start by becoming a regular listener to SBI’s podcast interviews that includes executive leaders such as Mark Logan, the CEO of WealthEngine, Dennis Hummel, the President of Maritz Holdings, and Jeff Ray, the CEO of Ellucian to name a few.
A CEO wants to hit the number and keep the board happy. Therefore, focus on measurable metrics that tie directly to the bottom line. It is critical that you track the effectiveness of every initiative to prove they generate revenue. If not, marketing will continue to lack credibility in the eyes of your CEO. Good luck selling your strategy in that environment.
The metric that matters most to the C-suite is revenue attributable to marketing spend. There are tons of metrics marketing leaders track. Most are important, some not so much. Yet the only one your CEO cares about is marketing leads that generate new revenue.
Engaging the CEO and getting his buy-in on your marketing strategy is difficult. They often question marketing value & impact on the bottom line. If you’re going to win him over, focus on what matters most: Hitting the Number. You need to tie all your efforts back to their impact on revenue creation. Marketing efforts that produce leads that generate revenue is the key metric. If you can’t measure it, you better learn fast or you’ll never gain credibility.
I can help. If you would like to spend time with me on your marketing strategy, come see me in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, executive briefing center. Sessions at The Studio are experiential and are designed around the principles of interactive exercises, hands-on innovation, and peer-to-peer collaboration. The Studio is a safe-haven for learning, and after just a few days you will leave with confidence and clarity for their revenue growth strategies and sales and marketing motions to make their number.