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How to show marketing’s value to senior management

How to show marketing’s value to senior management

By Stuart Wheldon, Director Client Services, EMEA and Asia Pacific, Eloqua (

At a time when every aspect of business is becoming automated and each department is becoming more accountable for its budget spend, how can marketers demonstrate genuine value to senior management? 

Stuart Wheldon discusses the ten biggest mistakes that marketers make.   
1. Handing off leads to sales and then forgetting about them

Too many marketers think their job is done when they deliver a stack of leads to the sales group but unless you agree on what constitutes a qualified lead and help sales manage the lead pipeline (including moving potential customers toward done deals), you can’t turn prospects into customers.
2. Failing to speak the language of business

Strengthening brand awareness or increasing click-through on your web-site banner ads is all well and good but unless you translate those achievements into business language used by top management, senior executives won’t make the connection between your marketing efforts and cash flowing into the company.

For example, don’t say “We’ve increased webinars in our online marketing campaigns.” Say, “By incorporating webinars into our Q1 marketing plan we increased the number of qualified leads passed to sales by 25% over the previous quarter ,” an achievement that will spell financial results to any executive.
3. Using metrics that don’t matter to senior management

Your mastery of business language isn’t complete until you define and track performance metrics that matter to your executive team. That means identifying your firm’s cash sources (such as new customers) and dominant business model (for example, margin, velocity, or leverage) and demonstrating how each of your marketing activities ultimately affects these.
4. Living in the marketing silo

When managers from different parts of the business don’t communicate, they start working at cross purposes and treating customers inconsistently. The result is that frustrated customers defect to rival companies that will give them a seamless experience.

To retain customers and turn their loyalty into profits you need to replace silos with collaborative links spanning your company’s functions. The best way to achieve this is to bring a solid understanding of your customers inside the company.
5. Using ad-hoc marketing processes

There are many ways to carry out marketing processes, such as building brands and segmenting markets. But if you don’t select a consistent and transparent approach for each process and communicate that approach to peers throughout your organisation you’ll never be recognised as reliable and professional, like finance and operations.
6. Letting R&D shoulder all the risk

Developing new products and services is risky business: Companies invest hugely in R&D yet a disturbing number of new offerings fail. Boost your company’s chances of launching money-making hits by helping to reduce the R&D team’s risk through innovation and more marginal product line extensions. Secrets include assisting R&D in targeting the most promising markets and identifying products that offer unique value and desired benefits to consumers.
7. Ignoring your company’s business model

Companies use different business models as ways to bring in cash. By identifying the business model your firm uses, you can more easily develop marketing strategies that support the model.

For example, if the dominant model used in your organisation is velocity – rapid turnover of inventory – then your marketing strategies will probably include low pricing and aggressive promotions.
8. Swallowing fads without gauging their cash-flow potential

New opportunities in the form of new media technologies and corporate best practices may look enticing. But if they don’t help you generate more cash for your company, you may end up wasting a lot of money.

Evaluate each opportunity through a cash-flow lens asking, “How will this new solution help us increase our cash flow or more accurately determine marketing’s impact on cash?”
9. Failing to market marketing inside your organisation

As a marketer, you regularly cultivate your company’s brand so customers know what the firm and its products and services stand for. You can (and must) draw on these same skills to build a brand for marketing inside your organisation.

Identify and promote what makes marketing unlike any other function, what makes marketing relevant to the goal of the organisation, and what makes marketing’s value sustainable.
10. Failing to be a business leader

True business or cash-flow leaders do more than just enhance the cash streaming into their company and helping others throughout their organisation see the connection between marketing and cash.

They influence other parts of the organisation to think in terms of cash flow to achieve the firm’s financial goals. In the short term, they have responsibility not only for revenue goals but also cost targets making them accountable for profitability.

In the long term, they use their understanding of the big picture in which their firm operates and their identification of the most promising customer segments to set a strategic direction for growth that the rest of their firm follows.

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