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)

  • Having worked at Board level in Marketing roles for many years I would agree with the findings. However, there is also a responsibility of the CMO to be clear with the CEO/Board around the role and objectives of the Marketing function, strategy and programmes. If the outcomes of the investment are clear, agreed and measurable then the Marketing programmes should align with those objectives and definitely deliver an ROI.

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  • That is sad yet very true, and there are several reasons for that.

    First, old marketing approaches are dead. Viva la revolution. It have been used constantly due to "tradition", but it is now fading out.
    Marketers should understand and "reinvent".

    Second, the comment CEOs made about social media are probably a result of a marketer that could not link, tie or explain how social media marketing is an integral part of their marketing strategy, and how it effect the bottom line.

    To sum it up: Inbound, Online and Social Media marketing, are the future, and everything that the CEOs expect, can be achieved using the following tools.

    Now, it's up to the marketers...

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  • All of this is purely from the point of view of Campaigns run & money spent, which is one function of Marketing. When was the last time the CEO's have taken marketing inputs when making a product, packaging it and pricing it. All of this is marketing. Marketing is the repository of knowledge, if it is not in these CEOs companies then they should aim to build it as one. The ROI is not merely on the marketing spend on campaigns it is a complete balance sheet at the end of the year showing P & L.

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  • In my view, CEOs ARE marketers - in that they run a business aimed at 'anticipating customers' needs and fulfilling them profitably'.
    Surely the onus is on them to ensure their the teams responsible for the promotion/communication/campaign elements of the marketing mix have the appropriate direction, and are aware of what the goals are - just as they would with sales, buying, fulfilment, finance... teams.

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  • Perhaps 70% of marketers have lost trust in their CEO?

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  • I've worked for a large multinational plc who demanded ROI stats but were unwilling to invest in the systems and resourcing that allowed that level of data. If you want tracking and analysis you can't just ask the marketing assistant to knock something up in Excel.

    But the boards and senior management of these companies don't like to spend money on systems as they cost money and affect profitability.

    Maybe it is a generational thing, when the current CXOs are replaced by people we'll see a shift, after all how many of the CEOs have always thought marketing was about mailshots, print advertising and TV adverts?

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  • Maybe CEOs lost their trust in Marketing Research because we are still facing a global crisis - even if is an economic, food or health crisis. We are facing hard times, but many this is the point, to create and to understand the economical environment when it changes.

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  • Would be interested to know what sector(s) the CEO's were from. As an FS marketer I've probably spent half my professional life crunching numbers to justify the spend and the other half crunching the results...

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  • There are two types of marketing degrees available, Bachelors of Science and Liberal Arts. If you want more of an ROI focus marketing manager, make sure they have the business focused marketing degree and not the communications focused one.

    There is so much more I could say about this, but I don't have time to write a novel.

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  • Lets first define ROI. And lets do it from the lens of the CEO and what keeps her/him up at night. Its about the KPIS that matter most to them - such as revenue, revenue growth, margin, EBITA, etc. Then we, as marketers, need to demonstrate the incremental return from marketing "I" contributes to the overall enterprise KPIs, as outlined above. Absent of having the language of the boardroom, which is quantitative, we end up in the boiler room.

    Last time I checked, no CEO wakes up in the middle of the night and say, " I need more likes, re-tweets, higher sentiment, more open rates, or even more MQLs"

    Marketing-driven revenue to the business is the thread that leads to a meaningful conversation. And I suggest we stay away from campaign ROI language.

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