I just finished reading a story about a report from Accenture Strategy that found that "50% of CEOs see CMOs as the primary driver of disruptive growth in a company." The study also concluded that "if a company does not achieve that growth, 37% of CEOs said the CMO would be first in the firing line with chief sales officers at 34% and chief strategy officers at 29% were next in line." It certainly seems like an odd order to assign blame but it highlights the pressure CMOs are under to have marketing activities tie directly to top line growth.
The same study also reported that more than "half (54%) of CMOs feel a large portion of their marketing budget is being wasted and not delivering the results the business expects, while only 30% of CMOs believe they are cutting-edge marketing innovators." All this doesn't sound like a recipe for a long tenure, but there are things CMOs and senior level marketers can do make sure what they are doing is meeting the goal of revenue growth:
Agree to innovation and disruption - a shared mindset about changes to marketing that are focused on accelerating sales needs to be understood because if you want to truly be disruptive you will have to ruffle some feathers. That means you will stop doing things you maybe have always done and doing things that people question because it's non-traditional. If there is not that agreement at the highest level to that goal all you will end up with is angry people above you, below you and beside you.
Have a common view of growth - although growth generally means top line/revenue growth, how you grow and what metrics you are using to measure growth can impact the optics of what successful growth looks like. Maybe your company wants growth from new customers vs. current customers or maybe they want margin growth to improve profitability. It could even be a retention goal where keeping a high percentage of customers is key. Just make sure that the growth target is clear before you start setting your strategies and plans in place.
Be nimble - sales is usually more adept at this than marketing is, but if you are going to have growth as the bogey then you need to make sure your marketing programs can rise or fall as their impact is known and as you have insight into how you are doing in respect to your growth goal.
Measure, measure, measure - all of us in marketing know how important measurement has become and we are making strides in most areas. The growth accountability portion adds weight to those metrics and we need to make sure we move from the number of likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter to real conversion metrics that are creating leads that move to revenue. You will need to get sales, finance and maybe others into that conversation in order to get the data you need, but that collection of brains will make sure the goals you set are in line with the goals of the organization.
The intensity that is coming from the executive suite for marketing to deliver growth rather than impressions demands that marketers tune their efforts to the channels and programs that show the growth needed and desired by today's companies. That focus will be the long-term key for marketing to have its proper place within the organization.