finding allies in the C-suite

Finding allies in the C-suite guide? There is optimism in the air that the pandemic is coming to an end, thanks to the increasing distribution of vaccines. People hope to return to normalcy at home and at work. But marketing executives already suspect there won’t be a return to the way things were in 2019. Many CMOs have seen huge budget cuts in 2020 and are wondering what will happen next.

One thing seems certain: digital ad spending, which exceeded non-digital forms of advertising for the first time in 2020, will continue to grow. CMOs are investing in martech tools to better manage activity on digital channels, and they expect their investment in technology to continue into 2021.

But anxiety is also in the air as CMOs consider the impact of marketing spending cuts that could continue in the coming years. Will the role of CMOs prove vulnerable? Here’s one thing CMOs can do to strengthen their position in the coming years: build alliances with their C-suite neighbors — the CEO, CIO and CFO.

Reaching across the table

So how can MCs make friends with their C-suite neighbors? The first step is to consider what people in each role need in order to do their jobs with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, and think about how marketing can help with that. For example, CMOs can think about how the CEO, CIO and CFO use technology and data and how marketing can contribute.

It’s also helpful to think about the decisions CEOs, CIOs, and CFOs have to make and how marketing intersects with them. CEOs are focused on overall business strategy, and marketing certainly plays a role in that. CIOs focus on technology and data, and that affects marketing and vice versa. CFOs are focused on financial performance, so CMOs can influence that as well.

Also consider the perspective of the person in each role. CEOs will be interested in projects that align with corporate goals. CIOs are technology experts and will be happy to have a say in the marketing technology investments the CMO makes. CFOs are looking for solid data, so they will love solid analytics numbers and accurate campaign attribution.

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Working with your neighbors in senior management

With these general principles in mind, CMOs can work to build collaborative relationships with their upper management neighbors. Only 13% of F100 CEOs have a sales or marketing background, so CMOs looking to build an alliance with their executive may need to enlist support by demonstrating what marketing does to drive large-scale business results.

One of the quickest ways to create an alliance with your CIO is to collaborate on martech procurement. The trend in enterprises is decentralization, with department heads make their own technology purchasing decisions without necessarily involving the CIO. However, a recent Infosys survey found that 44% of companies believe that a close partnership between a CMO and CIO can increase revenue by 5% or more, which is reason enough to establish a closer relationship.

CMOs are increasingly focused on data, and that opens the door for closer collaboration with CFOs because they speak the language, too. Solid numbers that clearly and accurately describe the impact of marketing on the bottom line in terms of campaign ROI can give CMOs and CFOs something to talk about.

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Accepting accountability.

If there’s one asset that helps marketing executives build better relationships with all of their senior management colleagues, it’s solid evidence of marketing’s impact on company results. The importance of data credibility cannot be overstated. The data generated by martech solutions won’t matter much outside of marketing if it’s not seen in a context that non-marketers understand.

That’s why so many B2B companies have already added company CRM to their solution stack. By putting marketing data into a CRM that functions as a revenue accounting system, managing directors can provide context that is otherwise missing. They can use the data in the CRM to align their department’s efforts with the sales department and work together to generate demand.

With the ability to accurately measure performance, CMOs can have a seat at the strategic table, working with CEOs to translate business objectives into marketing activities that deliver the volume, velocity and conversion rate of leads needed to meet company goals. Accurate data also allows CMOs to defend marketing spending – and make the case for increasing it.

Data that demonstrates the impact of marketing can also help CIOs justify technology investments and show how solution stacks are aligned across departments to support company goals. And solid marketing data can help CFOs and their finance teams make accurate forecasts and provide insight into how the business is coping with economic uncertainty.

The old stereotype that marketing directors are more prone to art than science is probably less true today than ever in the history of the marketing director role. Successful modern CMOs use data and accountability because they understand the value of marketing work and are eager to share the story. These same qualities can help a CMO find allies in company leadership.

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