70% of CEOs have lost trust in marketers

The majority (70 per cent) of CEOs have lost trust in marketers’ ability to deliver growth after becoming frustrated by what they see as an inability to prove ROI on campaigns, according to a new report.


More than a third (69%) of CEOs say they have stopped enforcing key business objectives and indicators on marketers because they have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies and campaigns delivered business growth.

The report says that many CEOs have marketing departments “purely out of tradition” and have “made the conscious decision not to expect more from marketing than branding, look/feel good ads and promotions”.

CEOs feel marketers “live too much in the brand, creative and social media bubble”. They would like marketers to be more ROI focused and able to account for very pound spent and measure its positive impact on P&L.

Just 20 per cent of CEOs consider their top marketers to be ROI marketers but those that do believe they have a “solid influence” within the organisation and could go on to senior management.

The report by Fournaise Marketing Group is a follow up to a previous report earlier this summer which identified that 73 per cent of CEOs believe marketers lack credibility because they cannot prove the business impact of marketing.

However, of these CEOs, 70 per cent admit that their own lack of trust and attitude is to blame for the poor reputation of marketers.

Jerome Fontaine, Fournaise’s global CEO and chief tracker, says: “Whether we like it or not, what CEOs are telling us is clear cut: they don’t trust traditional marketers, they don’t expect much from them. CEOs have to deliver shareholder value. Period. So they want no-nonsense ROI Marketers, they want business performance, they want results.

“At the end of the day, Marketers have to stop whining about being misunderstood by CEOs, and have to start remembering that their job is to generate customer demand and to deliver performance. This is business. When is the last time you heard CFOs whine about being misunderstood by CEOs?”

The findings are part of the Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which has interviewed more than 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Readers' comments (68)

  • Hate to say it but I pretty much agree. As marketers we don't demonstrate ROI enough and are obsessed with advertising, promotions and social media. Academics have been saying for some time that marketing is dead and needs a new paradigm so this kind of ties up with the CEOs' view. Shocking though.

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  • I am a marketing manager in the public sector and every part of my marketing camaopign is based on ROI - as it would not be viable to spend the budgeted expenditure I have. As the income generated is linked closely to how much we can support the people we help ROI is veryu important. Inthe commercial/private sector emphasis is on reach of voice but for the thitd sector orghanisation I work in this is can only be deemed successful if the is growthof the core supporter file, increased donations and improving ROI's.

    Therefore my CEO has contstant faith in marketing as in our oprganisations performance is simple for every pound spent raise x.

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  • Ah well, it's back to the days of, "and this is the colouring-in department". Looks like I may have to retrain as something with a bit of credibility like a banker...oh hang on.

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  • It is vital that campaign planning sets out very definite goals and targets for each campaign (such as a specific number of leads). If this is achieved then it can be measured and deemed a success or failure by those above.

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  • Is apple's market success due to marketing or product planning? Be honest. Now take Ford, the marque as we know it today then ask the same question, Then compare with Land Rover, once owned by Ford, select Evoque & note the success of the Car Product Planner. Food for thought amigos? Here's my take. If the Marketing team is respected & thus included in the mix of forward corporate development, you build a strong machine, with each unit feeding the other. That drives success & growth, as in apple.

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  • One has to admit, that whilst uncomfortable reading, we cannot be that surprised.

    Over recent years, and indeed decades, there has been something of a disconnect between traditional marketing functions and those presented by the digital arena, in turn, this has, in parts, led to a wider, and more alarming disconnect with businesses and their marketing departments.

    Having worked as both a consultant and a Marketing manager, it has become an all to familiar site to come across companies and departments who cannot provide the basic objectives of their campaigns and strategies.

    The marketing world has moved at such a pace, that in some parts this is somewhat expected, however, we must remember our role within businesses; there is a very good reason that marketing departments often sit within the overall remit of commercial teams.

    We are here to drive profit, yes there are obvious exceptions, but driving numbers is what pays for our bums on seats.

    We should be taking the lead. Traditional and Digital channels, especially social ones, may be hard to measure in terms of ROI, but there are ways to achieve this, but it comes down to the fundamentals; what are we trying to achieve?

    If we always start with this nucleus; if we can start with a question or a purpose, then we can demonstrate to our CEO's, and anyone else for that matter, exactly where the ROI is generated and what we are working towards.

    We wont always be setting the world alight, so expectations must be set, and granted, in a tough climate, this can be more difficult. However, failure to do so will result in that rod we are inserting down our own backs, becoming a stick with which to beat us, as indeed, we see here in this article.

    It's time to revisit the basics and start asking "Why?".

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  • Its very easy to target Marketing for company problems. On the other hand, i cant imagine ill do any kind of mkt activity without measurable profit.
    Those 70% CEO should first ask yourselfs if they allow marketers to do they job.

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  • I am a marketeer myself and I do agree that there're a lot of incompetent people in our cohort. But the problem is bigger. If an organisation sees marketing as a "creative supplement" to its marvellous and super-great products/services and, in particular, it's seen as a cost by CFO and CEO, then I feel sorry for that organisation and no wonder what kind of marketeers they hire (incompetent/no leadership) and their inability to deliver ROMI. Also, looking at things from slightly another perspective, what is the added value of Finance folk? I have no doubt companies like Panasonic or Sony still have very well-paid and "credible" Finance personnel counting their enormous losses year after year. I personally believe the problems of Panasonic and Sony (and other similar complacent companies) stem from their attitude to Marketing - not a captain of the business but a mere advertising supplement of their wonderful products/services which will be selling in the future as well as they have been in the past.

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  • Forgive me if I’m wrong but surely the role of a traditional marketeer is to create stunning marketing pieces to drive enquiries/sales? It’s then up to the sales departments (whether it be online or in store) to convert these to sales. I’ve been tempted into several stores and products recently because of strong marketing messages only to be let down by poor sales staff, inadequate in store help and poor communications from customer services. Many marketeers already wear several hats (content/SEO/social/marketing) so it’s time for sales and support staff to also pull their weight.

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  • Great comments.
    One fundamental thing I would like to add. As Marketing people we need to show and act the real meaning of our discipline. We are not just communicators, that comes second. We need to lead how the company defines its strategy based on good customer and market understanding. If we are the customers´voice within the company and manage to influence strategy we will certainly be adding value to the CEO.

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