How to Make your CEO Care About Marketing

Picture this scenario:

You’re a Marketing VP at a company meeting with the other C-level executives in your organization, presenting to the CEO on the state of affairs from this past quarter. Your marketing team recently unveiled a new lead generation tactic, streamlined social media processes, instituted a solid lead management strategy and is preparing to launch an exciting new content plan of action that you are confident will result in a raft of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). The current sales pipeline is looking robust, as is the top of the funnel. All in all, things are looking pretty great on the marketing front.

And your CEO is wearing a look on his face that suggests he could not care one iota less about your various marketing tactics.

Many Marketing VPs have experienced this exact nightmarish scenario. Getting CEOs to buy in to marketing efforts can be a challenge. According to recent research from The Fournier Marketing Group, 80% of CEOs admitted that they didn’t really trust the work produced by their marketing departments. How then can Marketing VPs convince their CEOs that they were doing valuable and productive work that would significantly contribute to the growth of the company?

By focusing on the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to pique any CEO’s interests – namely, revenue.

The problem is that many Marketing VPs tend to focus on the things that matter to them and their job description when presenting to CEOs. Creating content, generating demand and attracting qualified leads are all critical aspects of a Marketing VP’s and team’s day-to-day responsibilities, and effective tactics for growing the sales pipeline and driving sales growth. These elements are all nitty-gritty, down-in-the-trenches aspects that are beyond a CEO’s sphere of consideration. CEOs are too focused – rightfully so – on the higher level, strategic aspects of growing their company and these executives simply will not be swayed by a Marketing VP’s impassioned discussion of the latest and greatest in content creation and inbound marketing.

Instead, present reports that show how marketing directly contributes to the company’s bottom line. For example, the Marketing Generated $ Sales Pipeline report reveals how much of the current sales pipeline is derived from leads. Marketing VPs can drone on ad nauseum about how various marketing efforts and campaigns have beefed up the sales pipeline in recent months. However, actually demonstrating the proof in the pudding with this report, which directly tracks the relationship between the historical pipeline and marketing efforts is a much more effective way to sway the CEO on the merits of marketing. [image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”32585″ lightbox=”true” title=”Marketing Generated Pipeline” alt=”Marketing Generated Pipeline” width=”601″ height=”401″ quality=”100″]

Similarly, the Marketing Generated $ Sales Revenue report will speak directly to a CEO’s heart. This report looks at how bookings – filtered to include only lead marketing qualified bookings – are trending over time, both in terms of total value and total number of deals. If you really want to convince your CEO that a new marketing strategy is working, showing such a report, with a line curve that is trending in the right direction, will be much more effective than talking about nitty-gritty marketing tactics. [image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”32586″ lightbox=”true” title=”Marketing Generated Revenue” alt=”Marketing Generated Revenue” width=”605″ height=”363″ quality=”100″]

That’s not to say that Marketing VPs should ignore all their brass tacks responsibilities altogether. Far from it, in fact. It is critical that Marketing VPs track how many leads come from each source – it’s just not that important that they talk about these leads and lead sources with their CEOs. Identifying which lead sources are more valuable in terms of producing leads-to-opportunities and opportunities-to-deals will allow Marketing VPs to better spend marketing resources. Another way to convince CEOs of the merits of marketing is to present high – and increasing – returns on investment on all marketing efforts, especially on specific lead sources. This Lead Sources report can specify the ROI for each individual source.


Selling marketing to CEOs is all about focusing on the right KPIs. The quickest way to lose a CEO’s interest – not to mention faith and confidence – is to bog him or her down with unnecessary details and irrelevant metrics. Present the right KPIs, however, and your CEO will be more than happy to keep supporting you in your marketing endeavors.

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