« CMOs Need To Earn CEO Trust »

Insurance marketers these days face an uphill battle to prove the value of inbound marketing to their CEOs. A MarketingSherpa report sheds light on this important subject. Available as a free download via HubSpot, the 45-page report, How To Become Indispensable to Your CEO, is well worth reading.

Key CMO Challenge: Lack of CEO TRUST

CEOs simply do not exhibit the same level of trust with CMOs as they do with other C-suite executives. The MarketingSherpa report states, “(The CEO) doesn’t question the Chief Technology Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Sales VP the same way (he/she) questions (a Chief Marketing Officer).” The report indicates that there are many factors contributing to this lesser trust in CMOs, including:

  • Everyone who has watched a commercial or read a print ad thinks they know something about marketing.
  • Because sales executives talk directly with customers all day, it is easy for a CEO to assume they know more about customers that the CMO.
  • Marketing often gets blamed when sales don’t close.
  • The CFO, CTO and Sales VP can all show a direct correlation between their activity and company results. Of course, this often is not so clearly accomplished with marketing activity.
  • New inbound marketing (a.k.a social media marketing, online marketing, content marketing and eMarketing initiatives) hold the promise of better marketing and sales integration, better proof of marketing ROI, better customer engagement (and new levels of customer insights). Unfortunately, all this takes time and, in the world of instant communication and instant results, time is exactly what CMOs don’t have. According to the MarketingSherpa report, “the average tenure of a CMO these days is two years.”

Antidote for CMOs: EARN CEO Trust

The MarketingSherpa report outlines exactly what today’s CMOs must do to have the best chance of overcoming the trust challenge with CEOs. The steps you may want to follow include:

Know your CEO. The report encourages all CMOs to formally interview their CEOs. Tell the CEO that the purpose of this interview is to confirm you are both on the same page strategically.The folks over at MarketingSherpa were even kind enough to provide 18 scripted questions to ask a CEO. 

Know your customers. Listen to customers and prospects by interviewing them personally. Spot trends. Communicate findings effective to C-suite executives. Win.

Know your marketing ROI. Measuring marketing results and reporting them regularly (before you are asked for them) is a must. The report is upfront that this process can be a bit messy, as there are not yet any uniform ways to measure marketing ROI and present the metrics. The report suggests you stick to best practices (which are outlined for you within the report) and be consistent about it.

Know how to be a leader. Your behavior can create your own glass ceiling. Know how to behave like a leader and you will have a better chance of shattering the glass. The report gives you precise guidelines on leadership behavior that revolve around the more general themes of being fair, honest, diplomatic, positive and accountable for your actions.

Know how to communicate with your CEO. A CMO’s job security is built, in large part, on his/her ability to convince the CEO and other C-suite executives to do the right thing in terms of marketing. Again, this is easier said than done. It's a good idea to follow established communication best practices, which are spelled out in detail in the report. Some of these best practices include: avoid marketing jargon; answer confidently if you know the answer (if you don’t, admit it and say confidently that you will find out ASAP); put numbers to as much information as you can (CEOs generally respond well to numbers); take into account your CEO's personality when talking with him/her (the report provides an invaluable guide to Occupational Personality Types, which should help you pinpoint the best communications strategies for making a point with your CEO).

Download Your Report Today

Again, I cannot recommend highly enough the value of reading MarketingSherpa’s How To Become Indispensable to Your CEO. I got my copy as a free download from HubSpot. Insurance marketing executives as well as CMOs from other regulated industries that are slow to adopt new marketing methodologies stand to gain the most from this report. As always, thanks for reading!