The recent Hay Group / Agenda 2015 CEO performance evaluation study found that nearly every organization surveyed measured CEO performance on the basis of financial and strategic measures. Nearly nine in 10 organizations indicated that they “expect their CEO to lead the organization on a strategic growth trajectory.” Market penetration, market expansion, product expansion, diversification and acquisition are among the most common growth strategies. Four of these strategies, market penetration, market expansion, product/market development and diversification all require effective marketing. So, it is reasonable for you to expect Marketing to play a primary role in helping you develop and implement these strategies to support your growth initiatives.
Your marketing leader is an integral member of your team. And as with any integral member of your team, you expect them to have their head in the game at all times. It’s not likely that you would hire someone who lacks finance experience or who can only work part-time to be your CFO. Yet, we know some CEOs are tempted to hire part-time marketing leaders, bring in industry people who lack marketing experience, or even rely on non-professional sources, such as Craigslist, for potential candidates. There’s just too much at stake to take this approach.
Top quality marketing talent isn’t cheap. But what is your market leadership worth? Skimping on your marketing talent puts you and your company at risk for longer sales cycles, few or poor quality opportunities, failed product launches, and customer defection. Marketers who fall behind on their skills or who are unable to connect marketing activities and investments to business results can often be the reason why some CEOs take the least expensive route to marketing talent.
Don’t expect, or settle for, a marketing leader that you won’t have sit at your strategy table. To avoid short circuiting your success, make sure to apply these three criteria to your selection process.
- Hire talent that is committed to creating value for the company and who can articulate how each investment they will make on the behalf of the company is tied to a specific strategic goal (e.g., increased penetration in a market, increased footprint among existing customers, improved profitability or achievement of their exit strategy).
- As suggested by Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein, employ marketers who are “analytical and data-driven, yet understand brands, storytelling and experiential marketing. In other words, because marketing is a combination of art and science, marketing leaders need to have capabilities in both right- and left-brain disciplines.
- Choose marketing leaders who possess these three capabilities:
- Strong technical skills: Planning, data analysis and modeling, project management, problem solving, technology evaluation, reporting, etc.
- Strategic and tactical marketing discipline experience: Marketing performance management, marketing strategy, marketing operations, and functional marketing capabilities such as search engine marketing, content marketing, mobile marketing, etc.
- Solid understanding of marketing principles: Cornerstone concepts such as the 5 P’s (Price, Place, Product, Promotion, and People), the 5 R’s (Relevance, Receptivity, Recognition, Response, Relationship), the 6 C’s of Engagement (Contact, Connection, Conversation, Consideration, Consumption, Community), and AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action)
It was Peter Drucker who said “The purpose of the business is to create a customer. The business enterprise has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results, all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Your mission of propelling growth is a result of being able to identify, create, demonstrate, and document value for customers. Starting at the top, it is the marketing function that enables you and your organization to better understand, create, deliver, and harvest value. Short changing marketing and skimping on marketing talent only short circuits your success. Learn more about how to Marketing facilitates growth.