"How can I help my marketing team as a CEO?" is a question we should hear more. It's not uncommon for CEOs to take a hands-off approach to their marketing. They delegate marketing efforts to a CMO or agency and then excitedly wait for leads and sales to roll in. Here's the hard truth: it's a mistake for a CEO to sit on the marketing sidelines.
Why is it so important for your CEO to be involved?
1. The CEO knows the business inside out.
The CEO is an in-house industry expert. Marketers can extract amazing insight and intelligence by extracting their domain knowledge. You should leverage your CEO to access a huge experience and expertise database.
2. Marketing comes from more than the marketing team.
It comes from HR, sales, customer success, and product development. The CEO ensures everyone's voices are heard and valued. Acting as an orchestra's conductor, they ensure different teams are playing correctly and together.
Everyone should feel they can make a meaningful and positive contribution. They should have the freedom and motivation to offer ideas, suggestions, feedback, and content. Then, the CEO and the head of marketing can make informed strategic and tactical decisions.
3. Everyone has to be on the same page.
While the CEO should encourage and inspire their team, it's important that they course-correct when marketing goes astray. Everyone should be marching in a straight line.
Of course, things change. If the corporate goal is raising capital, marketing needs to know so they can tailor their efforts accordingly. For example, the goal of marketing could be increasing brand awareness and media coverage. If marketing knows they're on the right path strategically and tactically, it allows them to execute more confidently.
It's always important for CEOs to be involved in marketing, but their level of engagement can vary.
Early Stage Company CEOs:
- Their involvement is important. In some respects, they are the marketing team or, at least, the marketing leader.
- CEOs determine who to hire, how much to spend, and who to target. They make the key strategic and tactical decisions.
Late Stage Company CEOs:
- The CEO is usually less involved with marketing. While contributing behind the scenes, their biggest role may be driving brand awareness via public speaking, podcasts, media interviews, forums, and events.
- They oversee operations, but company alignment is more important.
PS: I learned first-hand the importance of an engaged CEO while the VP of Marketing at a VC-based software company. I was consulting for the company and accepted a full-time position because the CEO was excited about marketing, and we collaborated closely.
But after I came on board, sales became the priority, and marketing was put in the back seat. And when I developed marketing campaigns and content, the CEO complained that it didn't align with his vision. It was a no-win situation.
If you're marketing isn't driving brand awareness, leads, and sales, we should talk. My 90-marketing sprint is designed to jump-start our strategy and tactics.