A Note to the 73%

October 27, 2011

I just received an email from HubSpot.  It started with:

“73% of CEOs believe marketing has little effect on increasing their organizations’ top line.”

This note is for you if you are part of the 73%:

Funding sales is easy.

You know what it costs to hire a salesperson and you can easily see the results of their efforts.  If they sell a lot more than they cost, you get a positive ROI.

It is also relatively easy to fund your product development group.

You get the idea that you need to have a competitive product and you have a pretty good sense of what you need to do.  You have an intuitive feeling that adding a good developer will increase your output, so it makes sense to fund them.

You also understand customer service and are ready to fund it.

Someone needs to address the phone calls and emails that are coming in and respond to the social medial chatter, so you fund it.

So what’s stopping you from understanding the value of marketing?

My sense is that you probably don’t have a market strategy, so you can’t follow the progress of your marketing department against that strategy.  If you had a market strategy, you would understand your market targets, the goals that you have for those market targets, the marketing tactics that are being used to improve against the goals, and the actual results that your marketing department is delivering.  Ultimately, you would maximize your market clarity and you wouldn’t be in the 73%.  Just like the other functions, there is a clear management system that could be developed, but you don’t develop it.

Unfortunately for you, there are very few marketers that have the experience to build and execute a market strategy effectively and efficiently and most of the time the CEO needs to be driving the effort.  But if you are in the 73%, then you are most likely ignoring it.

You are destined to stay in that percentile until you truly understand how marketing supports the product development and sales efforts. Marketing can be the connection point that identifies and connects the best target customers to your company and then helps to optimize that connection.

How to be part of the 27%

There are a lot of important marketing roles, but there are two in particular that you can start with to give you the greatest probability of success — and ultimately should make you part of the 27%.  The first is a really great product manager, who ultimately is responsible for designing and delivering the best products.  The second is a really great product marketer, who ultimately is responsible for designing and delivering the best go-to-market strategy and execution.

If you don’t have those roles in your company, go find out who the best product managers and product marketers are in your market and ask them to help you understand what they do and the effects that their work has on companies.  Even better, ask around for the most experienced marketing heads for technology companies and find the one or two of them to become advisors for you.

Perhaps you will even wake up to the value of marketing and ask them to join your company?

Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.