Are you growing your marketing or growing your business?

How the best CMOs use marketing to drive better business, not just better impressions

One of the biggest challenges marketers face in bringing brilliant ideas to actual real life is in getting buy-in from skeptical executives in other disciplines who are, well, skeptical executives.

The trick? Speaking the language of revenue – not reach – and showing them how marketing can do more than generate marketing outcomes – it can generate business outcomes.

We’ve been talking about this a lot with people in projects we’re working on, which is why we were excited to see a recent CMO Council report which touched on the same thing. The authors of the piece, after interviewing hundreds of Fortune 500 executives, argued that there are generally two types of marketing mindsets: marketers focused on gains, and marketers focused on growth.


CMOs focused on “gains”

  • Embrace the campaign-based model
  • Look to drive transaction
  • Seek to drive the best marketing results
  • Focused on campaigns with transaction-based thinking
  • Success defined by marketing metrics


CMOs focused on “growth”

  • Embrace the organization’s business model
  • Look to drive transformation
  • Seek to drive the best business results
  • Look to drive business impact through marketing
  • On a crusade with transformation-based thinking


The two are intricately connected, and you could argue (we do!) that they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, driving the former often contributes to driving the latter. But while the first category is undeniably marketing’s comfort zone, the second category is marketing’s future.

Here’s the kind of thinking growth-oriented marketers brought to the table (along with their stacks of assorted Award hardware, probably):

  • Get as close to revenue contribution or product development as possible not just through lead generation and calculating customer contribution and lifetime value and analytics reports (though that’s a great start) – but through monetizing content, identifying M&A targets, and/or providing customer insights (think preferences, behaviors, etc.) to the executive team to improve products, operational efficiency and service.
  • Shift your mindset on metrics – think less about impressions and more about impact. Even the fanciest charts and most inflated reach metric won’t impress executives or boards as much as contribution to revenue or demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in investment of resources.
  • Tie campaign-work (i.e. “gains”) to long-term growth strategy (i.e. “growth”) so that campaigns add cumulative value to your organization. (Hint: brands could do worse than to focus on owning their own addressable audience to get a long-term, permission-based marketing relationship established).
  • Measure the business, not just the marketing. Learn the language of finance, operations and IT and treat each like a client of marketing.
    • Can marketing generate revenue through advertising or partnership co-op dollars?
    • How can marketing reduce call center volume and achieve cost savings?
    • Can marketing contribute to more efficient knowledge sharing systems to take the burden off of IT?
    • How can marketing help the organization grow?

Of course, all of this transformation assumes you’re able to build alignment internally. But what better way to build alignment than to demonstrate to your organizational counterparts how you’ll make their lives easier and their departments function better?

Marketing can do more than change your customer’s mind about your business, it can help change your business’s mind about your customer. R


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