CEOs Don’t Trust Marketing – What’s The Solution?

Month after month there’s increasing data showing us that marketing people don’t plan or measure enough. Our own Smart Insights survey broadcast to 40,000 marketers saw 69% admitting that there is no digital marketing strategy in their current role. It’s the same story here where only 46% have a content marketing strategy and this in-depth McKinsey study.

It appears that we’re quick to dive into solutions, new techniques, tactics and channels – but we lack the over-arching strategic thinking necessary to optimize for success. The good news is, this is a choice, and we can make different choices.

CEOs don’t trust marketing

Worse, a recent survey by Fournaise Group in London highlights that senior executives don’t believe the marketing function demonstrates objective commercial thinking, with 73% of CEOs stating “marketers lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient growth”. 80% of CEOs simply don’t trust marketers at all, while 91% do trust CIOs and CFOs. Ouch. Though is it a surprise if the marketing function is, in some volume, admitting it lacks the necessary plans and strategy?

The three challenges

We’ve been discussing it within our own organization and have realized what we believe are the three common challenges:

1. Commercial Disconnect – Marketers need to take responsibility for the very evident commercial disconnect with senior executives. It’s not good enough to think that the ultimate decision makers do not understand marketing in their organization, that this is their issue. It may well be, and yet it’s crucial that this is bridged and that perspectives are shared, if only to keep your job.

2. Distraction, hoopla and hyperbole – the ever-evolving world of marketing, due in large to technology and a now very connected consumer, brings with it new marketing opportunities on a monthly basis. Too many “next big things”, promises and chasing what’s shiny and new introduces a real paradox of choice. Yet, it’s not the new that should concern us, it’s what matters to the customer. And of course, a rigorous evidence based trial and testing for opportunities that are relevant – ‘lean marketing’ we might say.

3. Lack of imagination and innovation. Marketing is about imagination, creating new ways to deliver a value to the customer, to earn disproportionate attention over trying to steal it with short-termism and promotionally led thinking. It’s sad to see so few case studies where our industry can hail genuine visionary or intuitive thinking. For such a creative profession, where’s the volume of innovation that’s most evident in start-ups or conversely the super brands?

Seven keys to success in 2014?

It’s a fairly simple answer if not a big commitment. It’s certainly not a question of complexity or difficulty. It is hard work, commitment, persistence, focus and requiring time from your team. Here are seven ideas we hope can help:

1. Create a plan that integrates digital marketing

Of course this is the start of it. Without a plan we’ll fill our time with what we like, want, think our boss wants or with reactions to external factors. There are many models, such as PR Smith’s SOSTAC, to act as planning frameworks. Planning in silos, especially channel planning integrated after…

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