5 Strategies Marketers Need to Win Corporate Buy-in for Their Plans

April 16, 2022

According to a study by Russell Reynolds Associates, CMOs think differently than their C-suite colleagues. Senior marketing executives tend to be more “imaginative,” “unconventional” and “willing to test limits” than CFOs, CEOs, CROs, and CIOs. These traits make CMOs great leaders for transformation and growth initiatives, but may also explain some of the relationship challenges they face when working with their peers.

It’s vital to establish alignment amongst the C-Suite on the objectives and corporate vision so the entire organization is moving in unison towards one common goal.

1. Plan and budget strategically and predict revenue performance.

When your CMO sits at the boardroom table, they need to answer tough questions about where marketing is investing, what is the return, and how that impacts revenue. Prepare for these questions by aligning your plan to corporate objectives, allocating actuals to campaigns, and measuring the ROI and revenue impact of your marketing initiatives.

Marketing Performance Management technology, such as Uptempo, enables this level of visibility, giving your CMO and your marketing team real-time insights into your marketing performance. Doing so could save valuable time searching for investment data, allowing your team to spend more time planning, optimizing and measuring your marketing performance to drive more revenue.

2. Deliver insight to the CFO with investment plans and forecasts.

We’re used to discussing the relationship between Marketing and Sales, but there’s another key department Marketing needs to build a better relationship with–Finance. Marketing’s alliance with Finance and the CFO is just as important as its relationship with Sales.

The CMO’s critical role in the organization means the CFO must see Marketing as a strategic lever rather than a cost center. Build trust with the CFO by aligning your actuals to campaigns and objectives so Finance has a breadcrumb trail to follow marketing spend and the impact of those investments. Next, get on the same page about what success looks like and how Marketing Performance will be judged. Finally, loop Finance into the budgeting and planning process.

Finance values predictability over all else. If they have an understanding of how much and where Marketing is spending, they’ll be more comfortable. By managing your spend according to plan, optimizing your investments, and evaluating your results through the same lens, you will inspire confidence from Finance that you’re running the business of marketing.

3. Allow visibility and ensure alignment.

Your CEO’s top priority is providing returns to their shareholders. To do that, they need to acutely understand their industry, set corporate-wide objectives, bring a compelling product to the market, and ultimately drive revenue. Marketing can help by:

  • Showing the CEO that marketing is driving towards the same end goal by speaking the same language (money).
  • Aligning your plan to corporate-wide objectives, providing visibility into Marketing’s investments, and demonstrating how Marketing is driving revenue.
  • Being transparent about what’s working and what’s not, then adapting when necessary to maximize Marketing’s impact on the top line.

4. Own the conversation about how Marketing is driving revenue.

For the modern marketer, it’s important to demonstrate to the C-suite, in particular the Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Sales, how Marketing is helping to drive revenue. Moving past a conversation that hinges solely on leads and MQLs elevates Marketing’s position in the organization as a revenue source rather than a cost center.

First, provide visibility into your plan and revenue forecast, then make sure to track your progress for revenue generated and/or influenced to date. Accountability and proactive actions will position Marketing as a leader in driving revenue.

Susan Vanin, former Director of Global Marketing Operations at Juniper Networks, says her marketing team is keenly attuned to its contribution to the business. What helps this team are technologies like Uptempo that enable them to make data-driven decisions to maximize their impact.

5. Connect your systems in the cloud.

Among your CIO’s top concerns is how your organization’s customer and financial data sources, such as CRM and ERP, integrate while maintaining security and privacy protection. As your marketing team grows and your output increases, marketing will have a greater need for an official system of record to help you run the department efficiently and securely.

Uptempo’s research also found that 57% of companies who expected 25% revenue growth or higher ensure consistent technology integrations. Only 13% of companies expecting flat or negative growth report the same. By integrating technologies, such as an MPM software for marketing investments, CRM tool for customer and prospect information, and ERP for business process management, you can connect the dots and develop a complete picture of your marketing spend (both investment and return).

A word of caution however, make sure the vendors you work with have the proper security certifications and partner with the CIO to integrate the essential components of your organization’s technologies and data sources.

Winning leadership’s buy-in and sponsorship hinges on the CMO being able to speak in C-Suite language about the things that matter the most to the rest of the executive leadership. Whether that’s revenue, corporate objectives, data integration, budgeting processes or insight into marketing data, effective communication is key to building confidence and winning support.

This post was originally published in March 2017, but has been updated and re-shared now because of it’s relevance to our current marketing climate.

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