The Marketing Profession Needs Marketing

That’s right. The marketing profession needs to run its own marketing campaign - and not just with a banner ad or billboard. 

There is something to be said when marketing ranks below lawyers and baristas in a poll to consumers about trustworthiness. Or, how a third of CEOs in a Fournaise study discounted the CMO’s credibility when it came to decision making. 

So yes, ironically, marketers face a bit of a marketing problem:

  • “When it comes to marketing, there is no real sense of measurement - all of it is based on a ‘gut feeling.’”

  • “Marketing? It’s all about the fluff - there is no real substance.”

  • “Marketers are sell-outs. You can’t trust them.” 

Because let’s face it, everyone is always asking more of marketing. At first it was traditional media channels, then it was TV, then social media, then data analytics, then mobile and web dev, then search engine optimization, then customer and user experience - the list could go on forever. Marketers are expected to know everything about a customer, sometimes before that customer even knows themself!

Related - Marketing? Who Needs It?

Some businesses try to fix this stigma by rebranding the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) title to “Chief Growth Officer” or “Chief Visionary Officer.” While the emphasis on growth and vision redirects the traditional thinking around marketing, a title change is not enough.  

Whereas 80% of CEOs said they did not trust their CMOs in 2012, Mckinsey & Company conducted a study in 2019, that, surprisingly, showed that 83% of global CEOs said marketing can be a major driver of growth - so there is some hope!

Marketing is the gateway to consumers…and it has a lot of power. It’s time for marketers to start acting like it.

Related - The Importance of Communicating the CMO Role to the C-suite


Here’s how marketers can capitalize on this change of heart to create more opportunities:

Before marketers can win back the hearts and minds of consumers, there needs to be a change coming from within the organizations in which marketers serve.

Tip #1 - Use tangible metrics to illustrate the value of marketing.

The CMO needs to be seen as more than a “social media strategist” or “brand steward” - that’s why concrete metrics are important.

Not all metrics are created equally, however. Marketers need to go beyond vanity metrics like impressions or engagement. Since there is so much skepticism about the value of marketing, marketers need to prove themselves by communicating their value in a tangible way. 

The marketing world is complex to outsiders. That said, since only 3% of board members have any marketing experience, marketers need to almost over-articulate their capabilities, results, and purpose, in addition to explaining how the marketing department can impact other departments and the organization as a whole. 


Tip #2 - Build a bridge to the rest of the c-suite.

This begins by reaching the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) - the ultimate key decision maker. If marketers could find a way to effectively explain how marketing drives growth, serves as the company’s face to the customer, and supports the company’s overall mission, the CEO would have no room to question whether or not they should invest in marketing.

The reality is, a CMO who has an open dialogue with the CEO can play a pivotal role in developing a company’s strategy. Marketers are the bridge to the consumer - providing insights when there are changes in customer behavior, involving themselves in matters that affect the customer journey, and mapping out the customer experience strategy. If that’s not important to informing a business’ strategy, what is?

In a recent study conducted, Mckinsey & Company found that only half of the CFOs said “marketing delivers on the promise of driving growth,” and “40% don’t think marketing investments should be protected during a downturn.”

Quantifying the reasons behind decisions is important when communicating with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). To be in good standing with the CFO, CMOs need to make every decision with profit or loss in mind and support their cases with financial key performance indicators (KPIs) like return on investment (ROI), customer lifecycle, etc. Oh, and CFO’s love ROI calculators. A healthy relationship with the CFO can make or break the marketing budget when times get tough.

However, a strong relationship with the C-suite will only take the CMO so far...


Tip #3 - Build a bridge to the rest of the company.

Even though CEOs are beginning to give marketers the benefit of the doubt, the work is far from over. Developing deeper relationships with other departments, though difficult, is necessary for any progress to occur. Just like a well-oiled machine, in order to function, every cog in the organization must understand each other and work together. 

For example, in that same study conducted by Mckinsey & Company, it was discovered that HR and CMOs don’t understand one another, driving divisions in the organization. This division affected the talent pool entering the marketing department and stymied the branch’s overall potential. 

The same can be said for technology leaders in the company, such as the IT Director or the CTO. Data and analytics is necessary to personalize and develop targeted messaging to consumers… and marketing teams are ineffective without a solid tech stack.

Uniting together to understand one another’s problems and sharing the same company vision makes the organization stronger and more focused. The CMO should adopt the department-specific vernacular, as well as cater to their operating reality, to translate how cooperation with marketing can help everyone in the company reach their goals.

From sales, to product design, to innovation, to finance, to technology, and even to HR - marketing touches every department of a business and has the power to drive the its parts toward the same goal. In order to do this, however, leaders in the organization need to understand the value of marketing.

So yes, marketers are faced with a seemingly impossible task: a task that requires strategic communication, empathy, knowledge of their audience’s operating reality, and careful calculation. Fortunately, that’s a familiar challenge - one that marketers can absolutely solve!

If you’re a marketing leader who needs assistance forming agency partnerships or expanding your marketing education, contact us.