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Why Marketing Should Have A Seat At Your Leadership Table

Why Marketing Should Have A Seat At Your Leadership Table

Christine Pilkington is the CEO and founder of Crisp, a fractional CMO and contract marketing services firm based in Vancouver, Canada.

The other week, I met with a prospective customer – a savvy founder looking to grow the clientele for her physio clinic. “Marketing is the only thing I haven’t been able to delegate,” she lamented. “I’ve managed to hand off operations, our finances, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to delegate marketing.”

A few days later, I spoke to a CEO at the helm of a mid-sized media buying company who echoed a similar sentiment. “In my 15 years in business, I’ve only hired two marketing coordinators. They didn’t last.” He went on to add that he had learned to accept a deep embarrassment over his company’s website and inconsistencies with his brand messaging. The irony that his company was operating in the marketing space was not lost on him.

It’s a familiar refrain—one that you, yourself, might be experiencing as a small business entrepreneur. Despite your keenness and ability to delegate other aspects of your business, marketing remains squarely on your plate.

Here’s my question to these entrepreneurs: Is marketing sitting high enough in your business? If not, you’re likely feeling a deep disconnection that’s leaving you uncertain and wanting to hold onto the marketing seat. This reluctance to delegate marketing is a challenge faced by many small business CEOs, but it’s one that is potentially holding you back in incalculable ways:

• You could be wasting time. When marketing remains disconnected from your strategic business planning, it becomes a time-consuming burden, resulting in fragmented efforts and tactics. This piecemeal approach wastes both your team’s time and your marketing budget as you struggle to find marketing results that stick.

• It’s not scalable. Holding onto marketing hinders scalability and replication because your unique vision and strategic insights, which are essential for driving marketing efforts effectively, are often trapped within the confines of your own mind.

• It can be disempowering. Ineffectively delegating marketing renders your team more reactive than proactive. Because they’re unable to plan or lead the marketing effort, they must rely on your guidance to take action. Consequently, this can give rise to uncertainty regarding the efficacy of strategies and the underlying reasons, as the perspective often becomes overly limited in scope.

To make marketing work effectively, you need marketers who understand your vision, are empowered to create plans that turn goals into actions, and are senior enough to sit at the leadership table and engage in executive-level discussions. But, I get it—handing off your vision is easier said than done. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Exercise Self-Empathy

Your vision is like your baby, nurtured from the very start. Entrusting marketing to someone else feels like passing your dreams and aspirations to unfamiliar hands. It’s not just a matter of handing over tasks; it’s about transferring the soul of the business. Acknowledging that you might feel insecure about handing over the reins might be your first step towards successfully delegating marketing.

2. Hire A Senior Leader

You might be tempted to hire a junior or mid-level marketer. But if this will be your only marketing staff member, these employees, though skilled in their tasks, may lack the strategic depth to fully grasp the company’s vision. You’ll still be on the hook for strategic planning and might be stuck managing a team member making decisions without considering the broader strategic context. This could lead to fragmented and disjointed marketing efforts and a gap between tactics and the company’s vision.

Hire as senior as possible—director level or higher—so you can hold someone accountable for setting the marketing plan and making it a reality.

3. Hire Internally

When I work with small business owners, they often have a small army of contractors and specialists: a web developer on call, a small firm that handles SEO, a social media agency. Because these resources are external to your firm and generally not connected to the day-to-day overarching goals of the business, you’ll still need to communicate and guide them towards your vision. Can’t hire full time? Consider hiring a fractional marketer or a part-time marketer on contract.

4. Add Them To Your C-Suite

Over the past year, my team has selected and configured countless customer management solutions for our clients. To pull this off, it’s critical for the marketing leader to understand all facets of the business, as everyone in the company can benefit from having a single view of the customer. It involves understanding not just how the CRM will integrate with the company’s tech stack, but also how the new system will fit within all of the company’s existing process flows.

I can’t emphasize this point enough: Add a marketer to your leadership team. This way, they’ll be privy to the direction of the company and the nuances of the overall vision. They can have a 360-degree view of everything facing your business and stand a far better chance of making sound decisions without having to drag you into the weeds of the day to day.

The challenge of delegating marketing as a small business CEO is rooted in the profound connection between marketing and the CEO’s vision for the company. It’s a complex task that goes beyond mere delegation of tasks. It requires finding a partner who shares the same vision and can bridge the gap between strategy and execution.

Hiring junior marketers or outsourcing to agencies may not be the ultimate solution. To truly empower your team and streamline your marketing efforts, it’s essential to find someone who can take your vision and make it a reality in the marketing world.

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