This lack of credibility is one of the main reasons that marketers often find it difficult to win adequate financial support for important marketing programs and to successfully resist budget cuts whenever CEO's and CFO's are looking to reduce expenses.
If we look at a few of the specific findings in the Fournaise study, it's easy to see that marketers' lack of credibility results primarily from their inability or failure to demonstrate the connection between marketing programs and important business outcomes. For example:
- 77% of interviewees said that marketers talk a lot about brand, brand equity, and other similar concepts that top managers have difficulty linking to results that matter such as sales or profits.
- 74% said that marketers focus on new marketing trends or channels, but can rarely demonstrate how these new tools will generate business for the company.
- 72% said that marketers are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental revenue the increased investment will produce.
The mission of marketing is to generate revenues and drive revenue growth. This is why companies invest in marketing in the first place. Every marketing activity or program is (or should be) linked to the production of revenues. Marketers must understand how each and every marketing program contributes (or will contribute) to revenue generation. Just as important, it's up to marketers to explain this linkage and make it visible and understandable to the CEO and other senior company leaders. This is what I mean by "connecting the dots." Nothing will enhance your credibility as a marketer more than being able to explain, clearly and persuasively, how your marketing efforts are driving revenue growth.
Connecting the dots for senior company leaders is necessary because the impact of a marketing program on revenue is not always apparent. Many marketing activities do not produce revenue directly or immediately. For example, a company blog rarely produces revenue directly for a B2B company. Not many people will read your blog and immediately visit your website or call you up to make a purchase. A blog can, however, be an effective lead generation tool that will contribute to higher revenues. The "equation" looks like this: An effective blog = more sales leads = more qualified sales opportunities = more closed deals = higher revenues. The connection between your blog and your company's top-line revenues may be obvious to you, but it won't necessarily be obvious to your CEO.
Your credibility as a marketer ultimately depends on your ability to deliver results in the form of revenues. But your credibility also depends on your ability to explain why and how what you're doing is working.