Growth Insights for CEOs

The CEO and the 9th Deadly Marketing Sin

Posted by Art Saxby

10 Deadly Sins of Marketing for CEOIn 2004 Philip Kotler wrote quite a good marketing book entitled “Ten Deadly Marketing Sins.” (available in its entirety on Google Books). It does a good job of reminding marketers to go back to the basics of marketing. In doing that, it highlights for a CEO what marketing should be focused on and what the CEO's role in marketing should be. 

Marketing is one of the many jobs that a CEO must understand. In fact, I will go as far as to say that the CEO should be the #1 marketing visionary for the company. Marketing needs to be about leading a company forward and driving business results. Marketing is not about social media, or search engine optimization, or even the voice of the customer. Those are all tools that a marketer can use. But in the same way a cabinet maker is defined by his focus and skills in making cabinets and not on his skills with a saw or chisel, a marketer should be defined by his or her focus on growth and not by an ability to utilize a tool.

That’s why I say Mr. Kotler’s book is quite good. I would say it was very good, or maybe even great, but in my mind he blew it on the 9th deadly sin – Your Company Is Not Well Organized to Carry On Effective and Efficient Marketing. To lead off this chapter Mr. Kotler writes:

An effective Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has three jobs:

  1. To run the marketing department well
  2. To win the confidence of the heads of other departments
  3. To work well with the CEO and deliver on the CEO’s expectations regarding growth and profitability

He has the items listed right, but he has them in exactly the wrong order!  And the order matters.

The number one job of a marketing executive is to align with the CEO’s vision for the future of the company and then help drive that vision to become a reality. Every marketing activity must be based on the company growth strategy. And the company growth strategy must be based on a market focused vision of where to take the company. If marketing is not 100% focused on taking the company where the CEO wants the company to go, then marketing becomes a secondary support function. If marketing is not aligning with the CEO, then no department head should have confidence in marketing and it will not matter how well the disconnected marketing department is run.

The job of the CMO is to be the CEO’s marketing right hand.  His or her three jobs are to:

  1. Help the CEO craft the vision
  2. Articulate the vision is a way that aligns the organization behind a market based growth plan
  3. Oversee the implementation of the growth plan

So while the CEO has a lot more than three jobs, one of them is marketing.  And if marketing at your company is not performing a strategic leadership role, is it that you as the CEO has not fulfilled your marketing role of setting the vision?  Or is it because your marketing team has their priorities reversed? Let me know what you think. 

- Art Saxby, Principal/CMO


Topics: Chief Marketing Officer, CEO Marketing Strategy, Business Leadership and Strategy, Alignment, Business Growth Strategy, Marketing Implementation, CEO Marketing Vision, Strategic Insights