IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE SURPRISING, but the results came out from interviews with nearly 700 CEOs and CMOs published by M&C Saatchi recently. And marketing is seen as a strategic growth driver. So in the midst of a time of crisis, marketing has come out stronger. .
The question then is whether this improved status can be exchanged for real influence on the C-level floor?
The challenge for even the most influential CMO is that the role of the one who takes care of marketing and creates added value has traditionally been downplayed in the boardroom.
Perhaps it is about the inherent culture clash that marketing has grown out of: On the one hand, the need to increase brand awareness in the long run, and, on the other hand, the need to deliver results in the short run. It's almost a paradox, and perhaps for the same reason it has been and still is difficult to explain in a way that would win over and convince the boardroom members.
It is the results of the day that you are measured on, but the results of the future that you get high on. In a time with sudden changes and fundamental disruptions fueled by a pandemic and leading to uncertainty, it suddenly becomes very challenging to put strategy into play in everyday life.
At the same time, the study from M&C Saatch indicates that CMOs see themselves as significant contributors to the business strategy. And in today's marketing world, you can choose to get much closer to the decision-making process in the boardroom if you are data driven and data literate. It has the interest of the board, so it's a matter of getting hold of data or getting the right tools to collect data. Several surveys in recent years have pointed to how data analysis will have a significant influence on the company's decision-making now and in the near future.
In other words, you can advance your position by translating the data into insights and words. When as many as 89% of respondents in the M&C Saatchi survey consider themselves central to the development of the business, there is no excuse for not giving voice to those insights.
If necessary, start by explaining how marketing is simply closer to the consumer and thus to data that demonstrate what is happening here and now. Then try to contemplate who else outside marketing might support the importance of marketing to the business in 2021. Can you describe - and not by using data - the importance of e.g. change management, which follows the digitisation processes or the how the customer centricity, that everyone is talking about, is going to affect your revenue, then you may find it easier to ramp up support for marketing’s role as essential, not peripheral.
The digital transformation, that is making waves these years, puts new demands on everyone in the company. When that challenge is further influenced by the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought, then marketing is challenged, too. However, CMO’s seemed convinced that the negative consequences of the corona crisis would be short-lived. As a Gartner survey showed just nine months ago:
A staggering 73% of CMOs expect the negative impact of COVID-19 to be short-lived with a positive outlook for business results over the next 18-24 months
The question is whether this view is shared on the C-level floors. According to Gartner, that is not the case. But according to the study from M&C Saatchi, it may be marketing holding the long end of the stick. Not everything is unfavorable and pessimistic nine months later, and the CEOs also assess that they have been allowed more elbow room to influence the direction of the company.
The problem is perhaps a little more complicated, but the problem is real. Only 20% of marketing people in M&C Saatchi’s survey are willing to fight to be heard.
Perhaps it has been tried many times before without satisfactory results.
Perhaps the time pressure in everyday life is so intense that you can not afford to spend time demanding marketing’s position in the boardroom.
Perhaps it is only now, with positive research in the midst of a pandemic, that marketing realises that optimism must be converted into influence.
After all, marketing has apparently gained more power. So what are you waiting for?
Your opinion is important. Your insights are essential. If your data collection is in order. But the various transformations that the digitisation has required of companies over a number of years have traditionally been dictated everywhere but from marketing. Therein lies perhaps the real paradox; marketing actually has a branding problem if an increased value of its role can not translate into real influence.
How else can one explain the dilemma of marketing believing in itself, also more than the rest of the management team, and the fact that marketing has gained more power lately, yet the same empowered marketing people would rarely go to great lengths to defend marketing’s position in the overall business strategy.