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Building a case for marketing in the boardroom

By Chris Chariton

B2B marketers now face more obstacles than ever before. Between a tough business environment that has led some companies to cut marketing spending, an explosion of digital marketing channels and a heightened focus on analytics, it’s no wonder that today’s average lifespan of a CMO is fewer than four years — nearly half the tenure of other C-level executives.

Within some companies marketing is viewed solely as a cost center, an expense.  As a result, many marketers are faced with resistance when having their budgets approved by finance. 

But marketing is an asset that drives revenue, and is vital to the overall growth of a company — which is why it should be important to your CEO, your executive team and your board of directors. You need to position marketing to your CEO in terms of the revenue it delivers, not the budget and program costs. 

To make this happen you must align your marketing strategy with major company initiatives and have a plan in place that is measurable and can demonstrate an impact on bottom line sales. 

Here are some best practices:

  • Align your plans with company goals With the influx of channels now available to B2B marketers it’s easy to get caught up in the tactics. But doing so is a mistake.  You want to position marketing in a holistic light, demonstrating to your executive team that you are not simply executing a series of separate tactics, but rather, aligning your marketing objectives with company goals. Only after examining and understanding the goals of the business as a whole do you execute a marketing strategy and select the appropriate media channels.
  • Measurement is key Developing and executing a marketing strategy is just one part of the equation.  How do you know it’s successful? Simple: You must be able to demonstrate that what you are doing is moving the needle on company goals. It’s time to embrace the analytics available to B2B marketers today, proving success to executive teams by presenting data (contacts and inquiries, impressions) and results.
  • Become friends with sales It’s the job of the marketing department to make the sales department more successful. Accomplishing this is easier when you have a good relationship. Work together to understand what sales needs — and what marketing can do to help — to help the company meet its goals.
  • Be the voice of the customer As marketers you cannot sit in an ivory tower. You need to have your finger on the pulse of your customers. Understand what your customers are doing, what challenges they are facing and what they need in order to be more successful. Use research, focus groups, conversations and discussions to gain insight and share this knowledge with your executive team. 
  • Market your successes to the C-suite Marketers are great at promoting their companies, products and services. But we often neglect to market our accomplishments internally. Share your successes — this is going to demonstrate not only where your marketing dollars have gone but also how they have helped contribute to the company’s objectives.

CEOs — and your executive team as a whole — have the ability to facilitate the success of your marketing organization. By proving the value and worth of your department you will earn yourself a seat at the table and cement marketing’s role as a contributor to the bottom line. 

Chris Chariton is senior VP of product management & supplier marketing at GlobalSpec. She can be reached at


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Posted Jan 08, 2013 at 10:56 AM

This is an insightful article that aligns with my biggest marketing challenges that I have worked to solve over the last year using the same ideas as stated above. The biggest problem for me still is in the "ownership" of a lead. Does sales or marketing 'own" the lead, when there are so many touchpoints thoughout the customer lifecycle.

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