How to empower marketing – eleven CEO moves to ensure marketing excellence
Ivaylo Borisov, Dublin, Ireland

Written by Ivaylo Borisov

April 8, 2021

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Marketing is critical for business success 

Marketing capabilities are on top of firms’ priorities. Multiple research reports from the likes of Deloitte and McKinsey show that marketing is getting more important for the organization with the companies prioritizing internal marketing capabilities development.

But organizations have limited resources and the smaller the organization, the more limited their options for building comprehensive marketing capability. Firms need to make difficult decisions on tradeoffs related to marketing department’s scope, the level of marketing capabilities or the combination of skills and functional capabilities. Some are even deciding on their marketing and sales investment with “either or”.

These are big challenges for startups and SMEs. And very often I hear the questions – what do you consider as the greatest challenge when building marketing operations or where should we focus our efforts when building new marketing capability in our company? And while there could be different marketing operating models, dependent on business strategy, environment and others, you need to ensure your internal marketing is close to 100% effective.

Importance of marketing Deloitte CMO Survey_Ardency Consulting blog_08042021

We define marketing capability as: combination of skills, assets and organizational processes all of which, influenced by the strategic position of the company, can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the marketing operations of the organization.

How CEOs can nurture high-performance marketing?

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Accept marketing as part of the senior management team

Very often startups and established companies alike are driven by the evangelism and strong beliefs of founders and senior managers about their understanding about their product or service. While having passion for our offering is great, sometimes it limits our focal point: first, it makes us more focused inwards on our product or service, not our customer needs and secondly, it limits our detection ability for opportunities in the environment – either along industries or geographical markets we could serve.

Marketing’s role is to expand on both, and this can happen when its management is in the loop.

CEOs, show them the support

CEOs, demonstrate support for marketing programs as soon as they are approved. Even more, try to participate as much as possible in marketing communications activities. This greatly enhances marketing communications effectiveness and internally demonstrates to the organization that these are our company’s programs, not marketing projects.

Satya-Nadella-Microsoft-Ardency Consulting marketing escellence CEO

Work towards open culture

One of the marketing’s roles is to uncover opportunities in markets; another to innovate customer service and experience. Ensure the organization is open to new marketing ideas. In fact, encourage marketing to start from blank the annual planning, not to copy last-year’s plan. Allow marketing, especially in the beginning, to challenge how things are done in the organization and to work with other departments for superb customer experience. Open culture organizations are also great in facilitating interactive work approaches as well as reacting fast to changes in the environment.

Ensure open communications between stakeholders

Marketing benefits to know what is happening along organizational silos and employees from different departments should be knowledgeable and appreciative about each other’s work. Ensure formal and informal channels for constant communications within the organization.

Enforce cross-functional cooperation and teamwork

Encourage and even enforce cross-functional cooperation and teamwork between marketing and other departments, especially with R&D, sales and customer support. Marketing managers should be aware and understanding of the work of their colleagues and must also keep them updated on current marketing programs and strategies. Encourage participation of other departments in the planning process.

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Trust them with the internal marketing

Internal marketing communications are critical for the internal branding of the organization, but avoid the common mistake – do not entrust communications with inexperienced in communications. Marketing department is where the communications professional are – they are best quipped to coordinate internal and external communications.

Choose strategic marketing

Make sure marketing has strategic capabilities. Often, the limited financial resources do not allow us to acquire 100% of the marketing capabilities we need. In this case, I suggest focus on strong marketing strategy skills of analysis, operations, segmentation, messaging, brand management and marketing project management as these are closely related to organizational information and knowledge. Whatever other skills you miss you could always acquire quickly externally or internally.

Do not choose between sales and marketing

If your business investment is for the long-term, ensure appropriate marketing and sales operations according to your business strategy. Avoid the false choice between marketing or sales. In very extreme cases, marketing could contribute to sales while still maintains sustainable marketing communications. Sales can not contribute to marketing communications.

Fill-in missing capabilities with external resources

Do not be afraid, even have a strategy for what capabilities to develop internally and what to source externally. As strategic marketing relies on extensive understanding of the products, services and organizational operations I suggest keep these internally but consider adding skills like media planning, creative and specific marketing instruments like PR or advertising from external sources. Do not forget to train your marketers in working with marketing agencies.

Ensure free information flow

Marketing thrives on data and information. If you empower marketing with access to all available business information, then you could also require marketing to demonstrate business results.

Require, approve and support marketing infrastructure framework

Today, marketing cannot perform without myriad technologies and applications. Technology is especially critical in environment with limited resources. Require marketing to propose marketing infrastructure framework, including platforms and technological resources for marketing management and analysis. Marketing infrastructure framework must support the organizational business strategy and should rely on ad hoc decision.

Business leaders could greatly enhance marketing effectiveness, but it is a two-way process. Marketing needs certain conditions to thrive but also needs to be held responsible to support organizational operations and culture for greater marketing effectiveness and efficiency.

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