I recently read an article from McKinsey on Marketing and Sales ‘What a good CEO-CMO relationship looks like’ and it was all about the empowerment of the CMO by the CEO. Agree, agree, agree but I also asked the question HOW does a CEO empower their marketing team?

Our conversations with CEOs tell us the dated perceptions of marketing (brochure producers, website changers etc) are still hanging around. They know marketing should be delivering more, but they don’t know what, and they don’t know how to ask the right questions, and guide the direction of marketing.

It’s too easy for CEOs and executive teams to hang on to old perceptions of marketing – in fact some of those myths we still keep pumping out ourselves. To be empowered, marketing executives need to have the ability to have c-suite conversations: de-bunking the tactical myths, and leading the strategic conversations. We need to help our business leaders understand:

  • What’s the difference between marketing and advertising?
  • What is communications vs marketing?
  • What’s the difference between brand and logo?
  • And all the other myths…

Where do we start? Marketing strategy needs to be connected to business strategy so the relationship between marketing and the boardroom needs to be strong (it doesn’t end there – marketing is an entire business topic – but we have written about that before).

Marketing needs to be connected to the direction of the business, not only connected to it, but driving it – own it like the CEO and the executive team. We find that’s where the problem originates – if a business thinks marketing is about changing the website content, then that is the level of marketing capability they will recruit. In order to drive internal and external communication strategies, marketing needs to be in the executive conversation and have the capability to have that conversation.

When we talk recruitment or direction with our CEOs we tell them 3 things:

  1. Recruit for the future of the business
  2. Recruit and empower the best you can afford
  3. Do not promote your receptionist (sorry receptionists, but you are not marketing specialists)

What’s the message? CEOs must understand the strategic marketing conversation they need to have with the marketing function, and recruit marketing capability for the growth of the business. Marketing – encourage strategic conversations that deserve empowerment.

This is why we developed the 9 Boxes – it not only provides CEOs with a useful self-assessment tool, it also provides the marketing function a common framework and language with which to have strategic conversations with their CEO.  Find out more atwww.9strategic.com.au/9boxes

Debbie Richardson is a Director of 9Strategic and will be be speaking at Marketing Summit on May 28.  Continue the #AMIsummit conversation on Twitter:@9Strategic.