How Marketing Leaders Can Secure a Seat in the C-Suite

"CEOs are from Mars; CMOs are from Venus." That is one of my favorite lines from the former CEO of Eloqua, Joe Payne.

And ten years after the birth of marketing automation, there is still plenty CMO turmoil and distrust in the executive suite. The abundance of data, coupled with the accessibility of data, only makes things worse for marketing leaders.

What can you do to earn your stripes in the C-suite? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Recognize that data is the new black. Just 10 years ago, decisions were driven by the hunches of "the smartest folks in the room." Today, you can do the same thing, but you must play your hunches and test your assumptions. As a marketing leader, you need to augment your intuition and years of experience by digging for root cause for the problems you're facing, gather benchmarks, and scan industry data to support your position.
  2. Stop using "marketing speak." Think about it. Your CFO and the VP of Sales report on pipeline, revenue, backlog, and return on investment. Often, when attending board meetings, marketing uses different language, such as campaigns, lead scoring, social media, and event planning. This causes dissonance. Dissonance can lead to misunderstandings, and misunderstandings can lead to mistrust.
  3. Get in sync with the reporting cadence of the rest of the organization. Most organizations follow a reporting cadence that is weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. During staff meetings, the VP of Sales reports how you are tracking against forecast. The CFO reports on how earnings, revenues and renewals compare to previous quarters. The milestones don't change at random intervals. Conversely, the VP of Marketing may report on the latest Twitter campaign results at one meeting, and the number of leads from a big trade show at the next. This is downright career-limiting.

If you are lacking data to support your gut instincts, speaking your own language, or are following a different reporting cadence than the rest of your company, then you are swimming against the current within your organization. In my book, The Mindful Marketer, you will find practical strategies to help you secure your seat in the power circle without needing a life preserver.

What are your experiences in this area?