In the 1990 film Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts’ character finds herself in uncharted territory at a business dinner in which she is served escargot. She attempts to eat one, but accidentally flings the snail into the air to be caught by a waiter standing nearby. She laughs nervously and says, “slippery little suckers.”
B2B CMOs often share the same sentiment when they’re expected to articulate marketing’s value in a holistic and succinct way. We often hear about this challenge in our conversations with our clients across all regions. This came up last week, when I had the opportunity to participate in a CMO roundtable in Singapore with more than 30 CMOs and marketing leaders across the APAC region. As one participant put it, “How can we stop marketing from being one of the first areas where money is cut?”
Despite the availability of more marketing performance data, this challenge is exacerbated by how marketing is perceived within the organization. Many B2B organizations still consider marketing – in the worst-case scenario – as a cost center or a “cocktails and canapes” function. In the best-case scenario, a decade-long focus on demand-marketing, fueled also by marketing technology, has labeled marketing functions as “the leads and pipeline machine.” In this case, marketing’s perceived value has been reduced to leads and pipeline contribution. But that’s not all what marketing does. How often is marketing perceived as a truly strategic growth engine function within a B2B organization?
That’s a pretty one-sided picture of how marketing creates value for the business. But fear not! I have good news for you. I believe B2B CMOs/marketing leaders have a tremendous opportunity to create value for the organization. In one of my past blog posts (“CMOs and Marketing Leaders: Out With the Old and in With the New”), I wrote about how the B2B CMO role is evolving. Alongside that evolution, B2B CMOs have the opportunity to reshape their conversations about the value marketing delivers to the business. Here are a few tips:
- Audit the set of metrics you are currently tracking. Are you over-rotating toward activity metrics? Are you failing to track readiness metrics? Are you connecting how marketing’s work shapes impact metrics that are related to the business performance metrics your organization cares about?
- De-clutter your CMO-level dashboard. Make sure it focuses on impact, summary output and readiness metrics.
- Expand your CMO dashboard. Incorporate metrics that go beyond demand generation. Include sections on reputation, sales enablement and priority programs that demonstrate marketing’s impact.
All the above represent areas where myself and my colleagues spend a lot of our time helping clients.
Our new SiriusDecisions B2B Marketing Value Model supports marketing leaders by expressing the full spectrum key jobs that marketing does, as well as how marketing delivers value to the business. For example, if your organization is lead-focused, it can help you show all the other areas where marketing adds value in a credible way. If you are creating a cohesive marketing organization for the first time, it can help you set a standard for what constitutes marketing value. My two esteemed colleagues – Craig Moore and Erin Provey – will unveil this new model at their session “Defining the Full Potential of the B2B Marketing Function” at our U.S. Summit, May 5-8 in Austin. The SiriusDecisions B2B Marketing Value Model will become a powerful tool CMOs/marketing leaders can use to expand and tailor their discussions with leaders and members of the executive team to articulate a fuller picture of how marketing supports the business. It can help ensure that marketing value discussions cease to be slippery little suckers!