I’ve had the privilege of talking with hundreds of CEOs, presidents, and founders of small and mid-sized businesses over the years. Here’s the one thing I’ve noticed that’s consistent among all the successful ones: they want the big picture, the vision – and quickly. If you want the details, you’ll ask questions. Details are what you have a team for.
The CEO/president/founder is the most visible role in a company. It also makes you the easiest person to find an email for, so you probably get a zillion emails a month from marketing tacticians – people who want to sell you the latest and greatest tactic or tech to make your company “get more leads and increase sales.”
You also get barraged by consultants who want to talk to you about your “strategy” for marketing, sales, sales training, distribution, service, etc., etc., etc. I’m a marketing consultant. I’d love to converse with the CEO of a $10-20 million company about their complete marketing strategy. But most of the time – 90% at least – that isn’t the conversation they want to have with me.
Marketing is still about the 4 P's –
Those P's are details – lots of details.
What does our product/service consist of? How much are you charging for it and what are the policies around that? How are you getting it into the market and servicing your customers? And how are you going to let people know about your offer/product/service?
So, on the rare occasion that a CEO wants to talk with me about marketing, it's usually about promotion.
Their staff has the product/service offering down – it’s what the company does to make money.
Pricing generally is a function of cost or a result of the competitive marketplace. (Though occasionally I get to have a great conversation about value-based pricing.)
Place or route to market is generally well-established in these sized companies with the sales team, or other channels, having a lot of tribal knowledge and experience. And routes to market are difficult to change.
But promotion. Every CEO who wants to talk wants to talk about this. Why? My experience tells me there are 3 reasons:
- Promotional costs are the biggest budget item in the marketing budget (after salaries). A lot of money is spent on advertising, search marketing, the website, SEO, buying lists, doing trade shows, etc.
- All that budget must lead to “something,” and established marketing people are good at massaging the numbers. My conversations with CEOs/presidents/founders generally get to the question, “Are we getting what we should be getting for what we’re spending?” It’s about validation of choice and approach.
- The final reason for the “talk” is FOMO (fear of missing out). As a CEO, you’re always looking at the competitive landscape. Are “they” doing something you should be doing? Are you missing a tactic, a market, a “something”? “What’s your outsider perspective” is a question I frequently hear.
As a marketing consultant and the owner of a marketing agency working with growing businesses that have limited budgets and limited staff, I have a job to do at many levels. For the marketing staff at our clients, we must get into the details and into the weeds on pricing, packaging, messaging product value, differentiation, sales and channel enablement, marketing technology, websites, SEO, and so much more.
For the leadership team, it’s about bringing the four C’s of marketing to them. The 4 C’s? That’s our shorthand for what you’ve told us you want:
- Consistency – Knowing that the marketing “stuff” is getting done on time, on budget, and without you having to think about it or manage the details.
- Conversion – Aka results. You’re working and getting results to help the company reach its goals in sales, awareness, and value. (And if it’s not, where the breakdown is.)
- Control – A plan. One that is predictable in cost, effort, and time.
- Clarity – A regular flow of the right information that will give you the understanding that all this stuff – the tactics, the tech, the messaging, the people – works together and works better than your competitors. Also, clarity that reasons for the decisions align with the plan, and there is alignment between teams and vendors to reach specific goals.
Everyone wants to fall asleep easier at night – not staring at the ceiling wondering what they’re missing or suddenly remembering what they forgot during the day. We may not achieve it every day (we’re human, too), but I want to end my day, every day, thinking our clients have achieved the 5th C of marketing: comfort. Comfort in knowing the details are handled and we’re always out here thinking of what we can do better for them.
Looking for comfort for yourself? Contact us!