Why CEOs Hate Marketing

These days it seems everyone has their own definition of “marketing”. From the “4 P’s of Marketing”, to the “4 E’s of Marketing”, from MarComm to analytics to strategic marketing, everybody using the term “marketing” has a different view of its purpose.

While this can be very frustrating to many marketers, the most damaging result is that in far too many organizations marketing is failing to get a seat at the executive table.  Major brands are failing to integrate the insights and business intelligence that are apparent in the marketing discipline, and it’s costing them hundreds of millions in lost revenue, equity value and higher spending.

We often find ourselves asking, “Why do CEOs seem to hate marketing so much?”  Now, by “hate” I don’t mean it in an outright and aggressive manner.  It’s much more subtle (and in many cases more damaging) than that.

The “hate” manifests itself by a failure to integrate good marketing into the core strategy of the business.  Sure, lip service is paid to marketing in the plan, but the voice of the customer is lost in product development, operational procedures and even in company positioning.

As we’ve shared previously, the cause of this problem lies in marketing’s failure to speak directly to the business issues at hand and the failure to measure and gauge it effectively.  Too often marketing speaks the language of process and not the language of business strategy and results.

In our experience, there are four criterion that marketing executives must meet to overcome this obstacle, earn a seat at the table and enable their companies to gain the vitality they need:

  1. Business Acumen:  Executives must speak the language of business, not the language of marketing.  It’s a subtle, yet critical, difference.
  2. Measure What Matters:  Just because it’s easy to measure doesn’t mean that it’s effective.  Marketing executives must talk about – and measure –how customers are created and ensure that programs are connected to influencing key points along the way.
  3. Honesty Over Certainty:  Show me a great marketer and I’ll show you someone who admits there’s some guess work in marketing.  That’s okay.  Admit what you don’t know, and have contingencies ready to adjust to surprises.
  4. Understand Financials:  While a subset of Business Acumen, it’s worth its own category.  Too often marketers are clear on the need to spend money, but don’t understand or can’t speak to the financial implications of those decisions.  Especially in today’s times, that inability causes finance departments to wield too much influence, making companies become cost focused rather than results focused.

The companies, and executives, that focus on these four attributes will experience the vitality and growth that their competitors wish for with their brands.