Are MARCOM Professionals Out of Touch? CEOs Think So, and I Tend to Agree.

Newsflash: according to a recent survey from Fournaise Marketing Group, 70% of the CEOs surveyed said that marketers and communicators are disconnected from business results and living “too much in their creative and social media bubble.”

Now, I appreciate the numbers being tied to this reported sentiment, and I do love surveys, but as a marketing communications (MARCOM) professional for a number of years I have to say that this is not really shocking information. Those of us in MARCOM know this; we’ve known it for a long time. Ironically, though, too few of us take steps to counter these quite valid concerns. Or, if we do, we tend to focus on “making them understand us.” Guess what? That’s folly.

What should we be doing? Working to understand them. Most importantly, we need to work on thinking like them, communicating with them in their language and focusing on bottom-line impacts not marketing “fluff.”

  • CEOs don’t care about clever copy or great graphics–they care about the results your copy and graphics generate and you’d better be able to point to those results.
  • CEOs don’t care about how many followers you have–not unless those followers are doing something meaningful that you can demonstrate impact from.
  • CEOs don’t care about how many times you’ve been mentioned in the media–unless you can show how those mentions impacted the beliefs of some important constituency in a meaningful way.

We’re not doing that though. Fournaise compared these results to the results of a survey with Spencer Stuart on what is on the minds of CCOs (chief communications officers).

It’s not just MARCOM professionals that struggle with credibility among the C-suite. Other non-P&L (profit and loss) contributors in organizations face the same issue. Human resources, for instance. What you do really doesn’t matter unless you can prove that it matters in language that resonates with the C-suite. Not hits, not tweets, not followers or friends–but customers, sales, revenue and results.

Importantly, in Fournaise’s survey of CEOs 80% said they do not really trust and are not impressed by the work done by marketers (ouch!), but 90% of the same CEOs said they do trust and value the opinion and work of CFOs and CIOs. What do those groups deliver? Real numbers. Real results.

The bottom line: we really need to stop thinking like us and start thinking like them if we want to be taken seriously.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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