CMOs speak: CEOs are undervaluing brand


What do CMOs wish more CEOs understood about marketing?

It’s the big question we ask our guests at the end of each episode, and during the first half of 2023, many answers came back to one core topic: CEOs don’t value brands enough. In this episode, we’re bringing you a compilation of our guests’ answers and biggest shared wish — namely, that more CEOs understand not everything in marketing can be measured.

Ali Fazal, VP of Marketing at Grin

In his episode, Ali unpacked the importance of the creator economy and discussed how brands — yes, even B2B brands — can take advantage of influencer marketing. He described what he calls “the secret sauce” of marketing, which explains how some brands tap into their ideal customer profile (ICP) through brand awareness instead of charts, facts and figures:

“Not all marketing yields leads [or] direct attribution pipeline,” said Ali. “Companies spend so much time, money and manpower on consultants and fancy agencies and analysts to come in and advise them on how to get that next level of growth when they hit a stall. And I promise you the stall is almost always because you’re not letting your head of marketing invest in channels that can’t be proven.”

Palmer Houchins, Head of Marketing at G2

We all know there’s no silver bullet to demonstrable success in marketing. Palmer discusses the challenge of quantifying the intangible, AKA brand, in his episode of SaaS Half Full. According to Palmer, the trick to good marketing is balance, balance, balance.

“It’s about harmony. It’s about creating all of these pieces — whether it’s brand, demand, customer marketing, content marketing — all these pieces have to come together,” said Palmer. “And it can be very specific and very individual to your business, but you’ve gotta figure out what that harmony is.”

Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius

Allyson cautioned leaders against short-term strategies prioritizing the bottom line at the expense of long-term demand-generating initiatives. She also said providing B2B buyers with the sales experiences they crave is essential. (Spoiler alert: overwhelmingly, these experiences resemble those of B2C commerce.)

“I wish [CEOs] understood more of the demand creation piece and the brand piece. I think they understand numbers, so when something doesn’t have a number that ties to the bottom line, it usually gets cut,” said Allyson. “I wish CEOs understood the value of this kind of demand creation and brand and how powerful that can be when thinking about your long-term strategy.”

Tara Pawlak, VP of Demand Generation at Revenue Grid

Perhaps you’ve heard of marketing, the holy grail of sales-marketing alignment. Tara takes marketing one step further, suggesting marketing should be a mission-wide initiative. Furthermore, she said CEOs should be willing to take more chances — after all, the most significant leaps have the best payoff.

“Our CEO is invested in brand and marketing, and I think that can be rare,” said Tara. “I think more CEOs should do that — whether it’s a project or just one [good] idea. They need to be on the ground, in the details, in the weeds.”

“I’ll never forget, we had this great campaign once, and it took our team four and a half months. And there were so many facets of it, and it was so successful, and the response [from leadership] was: ‘Let’s do this again next month,'” said Tara. “I just felt so defeated. I was like, ‘Wow, I did not do a good job of explaining how we got here and got to this many leads and deals,’ because you can’t do that every month.”

Sarah Reynolds, CMO, HiBob

In their episode, Sarah discussed the importance of genuine inclusivity in your marketing initiatives and company mission. Additionally, they described the elusive nature of successful marketing fantastically: “It’s just vibes.”

“At least 50% — if not more — of marketing is vibes,” said Sarah. “You’re going to get the right answer when you have to tackle marketing challenges that are the art side of marketing versus just the data side. I love making a data-driven decision as much as anyone… But there are so many times when you need to either make data-driven decisions in concert with vibes, or you need to make a gut choice and go with it and commit and see what happens and learn from that experience.”

Listen to Episode 353 of SaaS Half Full for more of our guest’s insights.

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