A Guide for the CMO to Showcasing Marketing’s Value

In the ever-changing world of B2B marketing, the CMO plays an important role in guiding their company through the complexities of growth and innovation. Yet, articulating the intrinsic value of marketing to the executive team, particularly to the CEO and CFO, can often feel like navigating a labyrinth.

At Restless Marketing, we know that marketing is not just a cost center but as a vital driver for revenue generation and strategic advantage and should be seen as such.

This post aims to give B2B CMOs suggestions on how to effectively communicate marketing’s value, drawing on our own experiences and lessons from industry thought leaders on how to build a compelling case for marketing within their organizations.

Making the case for marketing's value

Marketing has a unique position within B2B organizations, different from other departments in its ability to impact revenue growth and direction. Understanding these differences and articulating them is crucial for CMOs. Here are the key distinctions that set B2B marketing apart:

  1. Marketing’s potential for incremental revenue lift: Marketing’s ability to generate revenue is not just additive; it’s multiplicative. Unlike other departments, including sales, an increase in marketing investment can lead to a much larger impact on revenues. This multiplier effect stems from marketing’s broad reach, its tactics, and use of marketing automation.

    It’s essential for CMOs to communicate this unique capability of marketing to drive significant multiplied revenue growth, showcasing how strategic marketing investments can yield a higher return compared to increases in spending in other areas.
  1. Marketing shows its returns over time: It is important to keep in mind that the fruits of the various marketing efforts often ripen over time, with current activities impacting revenue over a span of 6 to 18 months. This delayed return can pose challenges within short-term planning cycles prevalent in many organizations, where immediate results are often prioritized.

    CMOs must emphasize the importance of viewing marketing investments through a long-term lens, advocating for a strategic perspective to fully realize the benefits of marketing initiatives. This long-term impact underscores marketing’s role in sustaining and growing the business over time, rather than just contributing to immediate sales targets.
  1. Marketing shows cross-channel synergies: Marketing’s influence extends across various channels, creating synergies that amplify the effectiveness of individual campaigns. For example, a well-executed brand campaign can enhance the performance of subsequent paid search or social media campaigns, even if these activities occur months apart. This cross-channel effect is unique to marketing, where strategic initiatives in one area can bolster results across the board, leading to a cumulative impact greater than the sum of individual efforts.

    While some organizations place a lot of attention on tactic attribution, it is this synergy that has real impact, especially considering that much of the consideration in the buying journey now takes place in what we call the dark funnel. This has also resulted in an increased focus on improving brand awareness and positive brand experiences, with research1,2 showing that if a brand is not in the initial consideration set of prospective buyers, it only has a ~5% chance of success — and that someone else is landing the deal.

    CMOs need to highlight these synergistic and brand building effects to their fellow executives, illustrating how integrated marketing strategies can optimize overall performance and drive greater returns.

What is the Dark Funnel?

The unseen part of a customer’s journey before prospective customers engage directly with a company. It includes all the research, discussions, and content consumption that happens behind the scenes, such as reading reviews, water cooler conversations, watching videos, and asking for recommendations on social media. 

These interactions and touchpoints influence a buyer’s decision but are not visible or trackable by marketing tools hence the name ‘Dark Funnel’.

Bridging the gap with the CFO

The dynamic between the CMO and CFO can significantly influence the success of marketing initiatives. To build a productive partnership, CMOs should:

  1. Speak the language of business: Shift the conversation from marketing metrics to business outcomes. Avoid vanity metrics and focus on how marketing contributes to revenue, profit margins, and overall company growth.
  2. Foster collaboration and transparency: Engage in regular, open dialogues with the CFO to discuss marketing strategies, budget allocations, and expected outcomes. This builds trust and ensures both departments are aligned on objectives.
  3. Highlight long-term value creation: CFOs often face pressure to prioritize short-term metrics, yet the true value creation for shareholders is driven by generating superior growth and return on invested capital over the long term. The brand, as a long-term asset of significant value, should be part of these calculations. Over the past decade, companies with strong brands have seen their total return to shareholders consistently outperform benchmarks by a significant margin. CMOs must challenge the perception of the brand as a “fuzzy” asset by providing hard data on brand worth and investment proposals that build the brand for long-term company health.
  4. Be transparent about risks: When discussing marketing’s potential return with the CFO, it is important for CMOs to be clear and open about the business risks involved. This includes a clear communication of factors that might reduce the level of return and how marketing plans to monitor, report, and act on these risks. This way, CMOs can help CFOs understand the calculated risks involved in marketing investments, aligning both departments towards common goals.

The benefits of a strong partnership

The partnership between the CMO and CFO can transform marketing from a perceived cost center to a strategic asset. This requires a shift in perspective and a commitment to mutual understanding. Here are some suggestions to cultivate this partnership:

  1. Develop a marketing-finance liaison role: Consider creating a position that bridges the gap between marketing and finance, ensuring alignment and facilitating communication.
  2. Operate with clarity and openness: Be transparent about marketing strategies, successes, and failures. This openness fosters trust and encourages a more collaborative approach to budgeting and strategy development.
  3. Educate on the strategic value of marketing: Don’t miss the opportunity to regularly communicate how marketing not only drives immediate sales but also builds brand equity, customer loyalty, and market positioning over the long term.

Closing Thoughts

In today’s competitive B2B landscape, the ability of CMOs to effectively communicate the value of marketing is crucial. By focusing on marketing’s unique ability to drive incremental revenue, understanding the time-shifted nature of marketing outcomes, and highlighting the cross-channel effects of marketing activities, CMOs can build a compelling case for marketing within their executive teams.

Moreover, by emphasizing long-term value creation and transparent risk management, CMOs can build a productive partnership with CFOs, showcasing marketing’s strategic value.

At Restless Marketing, we are here to help you navigate these challenges and elevate the role of marketing within your organization. Connect with us to explore how we can transform your marketing strategy and showcase its true value. We are looking forward to talking with you about this.

Restless Marketing

Stay up to date

Sign up to keep up to date on our latest news and resources.