73% of CEOs say marketers lack credibility

Three-quarters (73%) of CEOs think marketers lack business credibility because they fail to quantify the success of their campaigns, according to a report.


CEOs feel marketers talk too much about about brand values and brand equity as their parameters, rather than the results that “really matter”, which top management believe to be revenue, sales, EBIT and market valuation.

About 74% of CEOs also say marketers focus too much on the latest trends, such as social media, but can rarely demonstrate how these trends can help to generate more business for the company.

Marketers also fail to understand what it means to increase their marketing ROI and tend to comprehend the term as cost-cutting rather than the generation of more revenue, sales, prospects or customers, according to 73% of CEOs.

The report says marketers are “bombarding” their stakeholders with marketing data that barely relates to the profit and loss of the company and focus too much on the “arty and fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on its business science.

Jerome Fontaine, CEO and chief tracker of Fournaise, the marketing group that created the report, says: “Until marketers start speaking the P&L language of their CEOs and stakeholders, and until they start tracking the business effectiveness of all their strategies and campaigns to prove they generate incremental customer demand, they will continue to lack credibility in the eyes of their CEOs and will continue to be seen as more as a cost centre than an asset.”

The disconnect between marketers and CEOS is also further demonstrated by 69% of marketers believing their strategies and campaigns do make an impact on their companies, although they cannot always precisely quantify or prove it.

The Fournaise Marketing Group analysed the findings from a series of interviews with more than 600 CEOs from large corporates to SMBs in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney says that marketers are becoming too siloed to become well-rounded chief executives.

He says: “There are very few marketers below the senior level who get to see the whole picture. And even at a senior level, few marketers carry the responsibility for profit and loss.”

Readers' comments (11)

  • I think that the issue is broader than this.

    What happens when you are a numerate, analytical commercial marketer who clearly demonstrates the ROI, sales and profit impact of your team's activities, yet the organisation tries to reduce everything you do to an over simplified binary analysis?

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  • This is probably the most important report any one has ever conducted. About time someone actually pointed out the shortcomings of most people who are employed in marketing roles. With the real irony being that these people can pull together a set of facts and figures that does validate their position withing a company. I have spent 20 odd years woking for various agencies and retailers and have yet to be impressed, with the exclusion of Andrew at DFS. Pehaps there are a few folk out there that should take the advice of Bill Hicks, ''By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now.

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  • It is always lovely to read a piece of research that validates what one has known and worked by for years. It is only a shame that it takes spending serious amounts of money carrying out the research to pointing out the obvious. At Ogilvy Primary Contact a specialist B2B agency for over 20yrs we would not be a flourishing business if we did not talk the same language as our clients c-suite or indeed their clients. B2C marketers could learn a lot from this.
    However I do believe that business needs to embrass and experiment with new channels such as social media even if the ROI is harder to calculate, as we may loose out on valuable learning and ultimately a valuable resource which supports the pipeline.

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  • This report could have been written 10 years ago. Surely things have changed since then? I am positive that most marketers now have a focus on RoI and should be able to demonstrate the impact of their work. And CEOs cannot be as blinkered as this survey suggests otherwise they wouldn't sign off the marketing budgets. Methinks the survey doesn't tell the whole story.

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  • I can and I do demonstrate results with my reports and with the old-bored-square results some CEO's want.
    The CEO's consulted must reconsider their marketing staff, maybe being young with a FB account do not mean market knowledge.

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  • This research illustrates the natural tendency for corporations to become more quantitative during downturns. CFOs play a bigger role during economic contractions and place enormous pressures on every department to cut costs and focus on the numbers.

    We’ve seen this throughout the 2008 recession and the current recovery. Despite the recent spate of IPOs in the Valley (LinkedIn + Pandora), companies are expecting their marketing departments go beyond “generating leads.” Our recent projects challenged the notion that marketing cannot generate revenues. To the contrary, we restructured marketing to become more data-driven and work closely with sales. Our client experienced enormous success.

    The key drivers for marketers in the future are to have more direct impact on revenues and to leverage their data effectively. You need the right tools to achieve that goal.

    Our sales engines include the following:
    - Marketing Automation – Eloqua
    - Business Intelligence + Reporting: Good Data
    - CMS – Drupal / Acquia
    - Web Analytics – Adobe SiteCatalyst / Test + Target
    - Data Integration – SnapLogic
    - CRM – Salesforce

    Companies can reduce headcount and yield higher revenues. With this combination, Marketing can speak the same business language as the CEO + CFO.

    This is how marketing can change the conversation to 73% Of CEOs Say Marketers "Have" Credibility

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  • When will someone issue a similarly candid report about Human Resources?

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  • The “CEOs don’t get marketing” versus “Marketing Directors don’t get business” debate has raged for years. So, in a sense, it’s astonishing that it still makes headlines.

    In fact, should we care? Is every Marketing Director around the world crying into his or her cappuccino, whilst berating themselves for their own inadequacy?...

    Read the full blog post at www.ebiquityopinion.com

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  • Astonishing without being surprising. Our research, which includes the analysis of over $2.5B in assignment briefs to agencies, indicates that over 60% of all marketing spend is done without even a clear marketing objective clearly articulated. This being the case, how can CEOs take CMOs OR the agencies that serve them seriously?

    More articles on AdAge and AdWeek to validate this at www.brieflogic.com/media

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  • There appears to be redundancy in Tips, 3, 8, and 9 all saying the same thing (being customer-centric and the need for data/research to get you there). It also speaks about Financial and Brand stewardship and the importance of business acumen. The article takes the position that CEO’s are not getting this from their current CMO's. Further, their interviews are with former marketing leads or recruiters.
    Currently in the throes of our 4th Annual CMO's Agenda, our interviews are skewing quite differently. Albeit, the senior marketers we are talking to are with successful companies across all industries and lifecycles.

    I’d posit that the CEO needs to foster a culture receptive to the value that can be brought to the organization across all of these tenets as delivered by marketing. Moreover, coming off and still experiencing this historical economic shift has, in fact, ratcheted up the status of the CMO by sheer need; those who have weathered the storm have been given the opportunity to advance their status and heightened the exposure of their value contribution among the senior team.
    The perception of how the CMO is delivering is based on the direction of the company. So both perspectives – CMOs aren’t delivering and CMOs are delivering are correct and accurate – it just depends on the status of the individual company being evaluated.
    I also believe that the CEO Top 10 list is
    intending to say – CEOs are expecting CMOs be a master of the “Art & Science” of marketing. Meaning they have the art to innovate and create, to have the touch to understand and affect customers, know their needs and the science to deliver measurable results that are meaningful to long long profitability/sustainability of the business.

    The culture needs to be fostered, with a component of that being the CEO understanding the potential business benefit strategic marketing should be delivering – and the need for a collaborative organization to enable that delivery and then setting performance expectations accordingly across the company.

    Our survey of business leaders in 2009 documented that as well: http://cmgpartners.com/userfiles/file/ipPDFs/CMGP_ConnectingTheDots_MarketingManagement.pdf

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