Presenting marketing effectively to the C-suite
This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook (where the full recording is available) sees Mike Berry, marketing trainer and consultant and MMC’s Rene Power discussing how to really present marketing in a way that helps business growth and transformation, and how you effectively communicate with C-suite.
It’s the second in a series of serialisations on marketing strategy, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).
Rene: It’s definitely about the application of it’s really important because otherwise they just become theoretical paper exercises. And I wonder how many business marketers if they’re really honest with themselves, do some kind of loose-leaf strategy document to support a budget submission at a particular time of year.
And then when they get that through, how often are they really looking at that and revising it.
Mike Berry: We’ve got the money. Whew, now let’s just do what we were going to do anyway.
Rene: And to your other point there about there’s two sides to this. Like you say there is the studying for the qualifications and conveying the knowledge and the application there but also in role it’s producing living, breathing documents that the board are going to like the look of and it’s going to galvanise action and get people behind certain things.
And we had a comment, more a comment than a question (part 1) about this. Saying digital strategy per se isn’t something I have a challenge kind of getting down on paper or coming up with, but getting people across the organisation to kind of buy into it.
And sometimes that is we as marketers I mean, you’ve identified it there very eloquently how many models, how many acronyms, how many different things there are.
I mean, we can tie ourselves up in knots let alone sales colleagues, board colleagues who may not be as marketing savvy as us so we probably need to sometimes simplify our recommendations and our strategy documents and say, “Well, look, this is what it means for the business in terms of revenue, profit, margin growth etc.” Still do the work, but think about who we’re presenting that into. If it’s particularly a buy-in thing internally, I mean do you have any- or consulting experiences of where maybe that’s helped?
Simplifying marketing for the C-suite
Mike Berry: You know the C-suite should be respected because they’ve reached the top of their particular function, whether it is sales or finance or manufacturing. And they’re definitely good at that. Hopefully they’re also good general managers that understand the role of marketing within the total organisation.
And I also think that a lot of finance people do a really good job at keeping the marketing people under control, because not all of us are incredibly responsible with the company’s money.
There are one or two who just love to do cool campaigns. And I think it’s absolutely the CFO’s job to say,
“Well, hang on are you sure? Can you make a business case here?” And it’s absolutely legitimate for CMOs to have to be asked to make a business case. You’re asking me for quite a lot of money, we could have done other stuff with that money like investing in new equipment for the factory, getting a sales guys new cars or new briefcases or maybe giving the directors a bonus, and instead, you’re asking me to spend it on Google ads”.
“Can you please just remind us how much we gave you last year and what you did with it and what the ROI was”.
And if the marketer then says, “I’m glad you asked me that,” and cracks open the PowerPoint presentation with all the relevant facts showing the return on the investment, they’re a good marketer and they deserve their budget.
However, I feel a lot of them would say, “I’m sorry, I’ve got another meeting. I’ve just got to leave now.” Or find some reason not to answer. And particularly there are some parts of marketing which we know are more difficult to measure than others.
And it’s not as if all digital is measurable and all offline is not measurable. You can count direct mail replies pretty well and telephone calls from a direct response TV ad. Whereas, you can count clicks on a Google advert and you can count everything on an email just about, but how about measuring the effect of likes and shares on Instagram?
To actually correlate that with incremental sales is just as difficult as TV in terms of awareness and changing attitudes and building a brand.
And I’m not saying that second lot of stuff is not worth doing. I’m just saying that we’re not yet as an industry very good at measuring it.
So we should be continuing to really work on the analytics, hire good analysts, train them, give them some space to do their work and listen to them when they met recommendations. And good analysts actually prove that marketing is working and everyone needs them.
Rene: I think that focus on data is hugely important. And obviously over the years, there’s an abundance of free tools and free data available across all of our marketing mix tactics and tools which can enable us to kind of see a better view, particularly the digital ones.
It’s about how to then align that and track conversion into the sales process. So when you’ve got your kind of sales ready leads being sent from marketing to sales, and there’s a requirement on the business then in process to make sure we can follow that right through its journey through the business to being a customer and being able to track it back. So we talk about attribution don’t we, in terms of where did this lead come from?
And can we attribute it to Google ads? Can we attribute it to email or an event we did or a webinar or a download from the website? And work out then so the value is we have 25 leads from that particular thing that equated to £250,000 worth of CapEx.
So hey, let’s do more of that next year and less of this other thing, like exhibition stands over here because nobody’s going to exhibitions for the next two years anyway.
Just being more digitally minded and doing more digital stuff. Like we’re experimenting with MMC, we’ve been a very focused business for a long time doing things a certain way and opening ourselves up to creating community and doing some of this sort of stuff.
The conversion from this is going to take some time to present itself. But it’s more longer term top or middle funnel activity.
And we’ve got to find ways to be able to measure the effectiveness of things like this. So you’re right. The data at the end of the day, it’s the stuff that helps you make better decisions. And that’s what we’re in the business of. We want to be, the group’s called Pivotal Marketer for a reason, isn’t it? We want to be seen as being more important in our organisations by helping our businesses make better decisions. And the data is going to help us to achieve that I think.
Mike Berry: And also opening up cans of worms where in many cases it would be simpler not to.
Like are you the one in the meeting who says, “Okay, are we measuring the effectiveness of this,” when everyone else was just happy to spend the money in the hope that it might be working?
Being the difficult person (man or woman) is actually I think sometimes the role of the marketer and measurement hurts, doesn’t it? It requires time and effort and it would be easier to rush on to the next project, the next exciting bit of creative work that everyone is enthusiastic about.
But if you’re not measuring, you’re really guessing and you’re drifting. And when things get tough, the CFO is going to be asking the questions. What are we getting back from our social media? How many people are we employing? What are we paying them? What if we do this?
And unless you have an answer for that, you can imagine what the finance department director’s going to be recommending if he or she is looking to make some cuts. So I think for selfish reasons as well as the benefit of the whole organisation, marketing absolutely has to embrace data and work out as you say Rene what’s working and what isn’t. And maybe we can afford a certain percentage of things that we can’t measure, but that is an act of faith. And we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we know it’s working if we can’t prove any ROI.
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Recommended further reading
- Part 1 with Mike Berry – What do we mean when we talk about digital (marketing) strategy?
- 10,000 hours to become an expert
- Why and how the SWOT analysis is still an essential marketing effectiveness tool for modern marketers
- Why the T-shaped marketer is a critical thing to understand for your career and development
- 5 ways to expand your digital marketing knowledge and mindset
- Part 1 with Mike Baxter: Understanding what strategy is and how to create strategy that means something to people who have to implement it
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