Why CEOs Shouldn’t Trust Marketing

trust marketing

By Eric Wittlake, {grow} Contributing Columnist

New research says that 8 in 10 CEOs don’t trust marketing.

As a marketer, that stings. Sadly, the CEO who doesn’t trust marketing today isn’t the CEO who doesn’t get it. As marketers, we aren’t earning trust. Actually, we are actively destroying it.

We grossly exaggerate

Many marketers are like the stereotypical weekend angler. “I caught a fish THIS BIG!” Yeah… no you didn’t. And those marketing performance reports? It’s the same thing.

We keep over-reporting sales. Just because they used a coupon we sent doesn’t mean they bought because of the coupon. Or the Tweet. Or searching our brand name (seriously, they were already looking for us!). But over and over again, we keep claiming responsibility for what would have happened without us!

Digital marketing, because of all of the data that is available, is actually making this worse, not better. Here are four common tactics that keep contributing to this problem.

We talk about the wrong things

How big was that fish again? So how much did you sell that giant for or how many meals are you going to get out of it? That’s cash in your pocket or food on your table. Even someone who doesn’t care about fishing can see the benefit.

Clicks don’t matter. We are the only people that actually like Likes. We even manage to butcher ROI, replacing “investment” with “I” words like innovation or insight. And then we talk about the I, ignore the R and think people should care!

How often do you hear a marketer talk about their impact on gross margin, return on equity, operating income or earnings per share? And do it without grossly exaggerating? Until we start connecting our activity to the metrics that matter to the business, why would the CEO trust that you are driving those metrics?

We are so easily distracted

I take my two year old for walks in our neighborhood most evenings. It is a leisurely evening stroll… until he sees a cat or dog. Suddenly the sidewalk doesn’t matter! He’ll run up onto a stranger’s porch or across the street to see this furry potential new friend. So when we walk, I hold his hand. Tightly.

What are we doing with Snapchat? Look, a parallax infographic! Animated GIFs on Twitter!!

Wow, look at all these brand GIFs on Twitter. Wait, what was I talking about?

It is easy to get distracted in the sea of new and innovative marketing opportunities today but if you can’t stay focused on what you need to accomplish, why would your executive team trust that marketing will actually deliver?

And then we say “but trust me”

At the end of the day, it is difficult to measure the impact of marketing on a business’s bottom line.

So trust us, we are making a difference. Even though we exaggerate our results and don’t seem to care about the metrics the CEO cares about, just trust us. Marketing really is critical to our business.

I’m a marketer too. I’ve seen these challenges first hand and I’ve contributed to the problem. But if we want the CEO to put his or her faith in our marketing, we need to change.

Eric WittlakeEric Wittlake spends his days working with B2B marketers and shares his marketing views on his personal blog, B2B Digital Marketing. You can find him on Twitter (@wittlake) when he isn’t spending time with his three young boys.

photo courtesy of bigstock.com

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