Gini Dietrich

What CEOs Expect of Marketers When It Comes to Results

By: Gini Dietrich | January 26, 2021 | 
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What CEOs Expect of Marketers When It Comes to ResultsI have some depressing news for you.

According to a survey by StrategyBox of more than 100 CEOs, more than half aren’t convinced their marketing teams are driving results.

More than half!

That means for every two of you listening to this, one of you has clients or a CEO who doesn’t think you’re doing your job. 

The report goes on to say that 48% aren’t convinced their teams know how to measure their performance against company goals and 49% say teams are unsure which channels are working best—or how to compare those results with their competitors. 

That’s depressing.

But this 2021. That means there is no excuse for this. We have the tools, we have the technology, and we have the know-how to be able to demonstrate results.  

Are We Just Being Lazy?

I don’t know about you, but this makes me mad!

I think one of three things (or maybe a combination of them) is happening:

  1. These CEOs surveyed have completely unrealistic expectations and have never been taught what a marketing program can and can’t do;
  2. We’re not using the tools, technology, and our brains to demonstrate results; or
  3. We’re being lazy.

I will admit that when starting a brand new measurement program from scratch for a client, it’s a bit overwhelming.

If we don’t have experience with the technology they’re using, there is a fast learning curve we have to get over.

Worse, if they don’t have anything at all, we have to get buy-in to purchase it and then work with their teams to adopt it.

And don’t get me started about agreeing on what’s a marketing lead versus marketing qualified versus sales qualified.

Every client on earth has different definitions of those three categories and they all have different expectations on how much they should spend for each. 

So maybe it’s not so much being lazy as it is not wanting to disrupt the existing process—but it must be done or you’ll fall into the half of marketers who are assumed to not doing their job.

Proven Results = Bigger Budgets

According to the survey, 73% reported increased investments in marketing technology and automation paid for by cuts in event spending and travel because of The Corona (as my small one calls it).

So it’s not a lack of budget or willingness to invest.

More than half also said, and this one is exciting, that they’d use any savings or efficiency gains in marketing for more experiential campaigns. And they said they would support reinvesting in top-performing marketing campaigns.

It’s not all bad news and, while we have some work to get ahead of this and prove our value, it can be done.

It’s expected, but if we can prove results from the work we do, we’ll get to play with some additional funds for the fun things.

You Need Marketing Technology

We have a client who pushes us on the cost of marketing leads constantly.

At least once a week, he asks us if we think he’d be better off hiring more salespeople and paying them what it costs per marketing lead.

Never mind the fact that the poor sales team would be paid less than minimum wage if he did that, it’s a constant reminder to show him at least weekly where we started last year—and where we are today.

Considering the cost per lead has decreased 75% in 12 months, that usually satisfies him.

But what if you don’t have the data to prove those kinds of results? You have to get it. Pronto!

If your client or CEO has moved budget from in-person events and travel, and you don’t already have marketing technology and automation software, this is the time to ask for it.

You absolutely cannot show the value of your work without it.

Depending on what your favorite tools are, one way to get them to buy-in quickly is to show them how it all works.

Sometimes that’s a demo with the tech software teams or, if you’re on the agency side, you can demonstrate how you track results for your own business (and don’t get me started if you don’t do it for yourself!). 

Once you show your leadership team and truth-be-told, the sales team too, how you can track what a lead does (or doesn’t do) when they’re on your website, it’ll be a no-brainer.

They’ll be begging you to get it installed and working yesterday.

To boot, according to this survey—and I will agree with it anecdotally, too—the majority of CEOs believe access to more data will help deliver better results for their marketing teams.

Show Them the Money!

Show them the money!

You have the ability to do it.

You do need to spend some money on software and you may need to hire an expert (a HubSpot or ActiveCampaign or SharpSpring or Marketo expert, for instance) to get you all set up, but it’ll be worth the investment in time and resources. 

When you do this, you engender trust with the c-suite, which means your budgets, your experimentation, and your results will happen lots, lots faster.

I used to think you could do the basics of results reporting with Google Analytics and a spreadsheet—and that does work at the very, very basic level, but if you want to demonstrate real results, you need marketing automation and a CRM, too.

It’s going to take some time—and it will also take testing and improving, but if you can all agree theoretically on what constitutes a marketing lead versus marketing qualified versus sales qualified—and where sales come in to help with nurturing and conversion, the easier it will be to implement a program that demonstrated real results.

Huge Opportunity for 2021

The Corona has afforded many of us a huge opportunity here.

Most organizations will stay the course this year and keep everything virtual.

If you communicate with your leadership team well and you’re honest about what you can and cannot do with the right budget and the right tools, I’m willing to bet you can get some of the event and travel dollars to invest in the technology necessary to change the minds of 56% of CEOs who think marketing isn’t contributing to the growth of the organization. 

If you’d like to download the full StrategyBox report, you can find it here.

And, if you’d like to discuss the types of things necessary to make the case to your leadership team or clients—or need help figuring out what you should be measuring—join the Spin Sucks Community.

It’s free. It’s fun. And there are lots of really smart people there. 

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.