CEOs question value of marketing

11 July 2012

LONDON: Over 70% of chief executives believe marketers are "disconnected" from business results and focus on the wrong areas, multimarket research by the Fournaise Marketing Group has revealed.

The marketing services provider polled more than 1,200 CEOs and other senior decision-makers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, and found 90% trusted and valued the work of their chief financial officers and chief information officers.

By contrast, 80% of interviewees took the opposite perspective when assessing the activities of marketers, primarily because they were perceived as being "disconnected" from financial imperatives.

More specifically, 78% of respondents reported that marketers "too often lose sight of what their real job is" - namely, to increase demand for goods and services in a quantifiable way.

Some 69% of chief executives from consumer-facing firms asserted that communications teams "live too much in their creative and social media bubble" and emphasised metrics like Facebook "likes" and Twitter buzz, which are difficult to tie to sales.

These parameters are seen as "interesting but not critical" by company leaders, who are typically most concerned with hard data, Fournaise discovered.

In the business-to-business sector, 71% of CEOs agreed marketers prioritised the latest technologies - such as lead management, automation and customer relationship management - but added they were not delivering incremental growth.

Rather, the panel suggested, the broad portfolio of new tools available, and the wide range of industry "jargon" surrounding them, had proved a distraction to marketers.

In keeping with these trends, 75% of interviewees thought marketers misunderstood the definitions of terms like "results", "return on investment" and "performance" in the business context.

Similarly, 74% of the sample wanted their marketing units to focus on tangible payback. For 82% of CEOs in firms dealing directly with consumers, market share, sell-in, sell-out and linking communications spending to gross profit were the key metrics.

In the business-to-business arena, 85% of those questioned emphasised prospect volume and quality rates, and how effective communications were in attracting potential customers.

"Marketers will have to understand that they need to start 'cutting the rubbish' if they are to earn the trust of CEOs and if they want to have a bigger impact in the boardroom," Jerome Fontaine, chief executive of Fournaise, said.

"They will have to transform themselves into true business-driven ROI marketers or forever remain in what 65% of CEOs told us they call 'marketing la-la land.'"

Data sourced from the Fournaise Marketing Group; additional content by Warc staff