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Especially now, CEOs need a ‘marketing superhero’

Matthew Valentine’s recent Marketing Week article reported important insight in the management of marketing teams and what that meant during the COVID lockdown

Emma Woods, CEO of Wagamana and Nick Robinson of Kerry Foods were quoted by Valentine.  Both executives agreed that the managing of their marketing teams was a key focus, and a large amount of their time was devoted to keeping them energized and innovative when things did not seem so rosy.

There are different ways to look at a team structure, especially when they are severely harmed by furloughs, reduced hours and even layoffs.  Creativity and culture cannot exist in such a toxic environment.  However, as the noose starts to loosen CEOs are concerned about returning to their former high level of performance from the marketing teams.

Emma Woods says, “When you get to be CEO you realize you need a marketing superhero.”  Both of the CEOs explain why an appreciation of internal comms and a thirst for innovation are important characteristics marketers must possess in the post-pandemic world. Clearly the disruption and suffering of their preexisting team culture may have pulled the rug from under such a possibility.

CEOs are looking for opportunities as the American pent-up demand for everything from shoes to household items to personal needs and wants.  The perfect storm of never-before-seen individual savings, one year of lockdowns being lifted and the aforementioned pent-up demand is about to descend on the marketplace.  To grasp what could be a once in a lifetime tsunami of spending, CEOs are taking a hard look at what their marketing teams are capable of.  Lacking a comfort level many are looking for resources to either supplement their internal teams or to outsource the function altogether.

The later is what marketing and advertising agencies are experiencing as businesses reach out to them for help.

There are a plethora of agencies waiting for the inquiry to be made.  The question CEOs are faced with is how to know which is the best fit.

All agencies have certain niches in which they are more adept.  Others have varying levels of band width to offer the required customer service and involvement.  Even other agencies have limited expertise in the multitude of service lines necessary to employ in a fully integrated marketing campaign.  There are only a handful of marketing companies that have the totality to handle all aspects of a campaign without using remote third parties themselves.  All of the foregoing are considerations that make do diligence problematic.

CEOs should mostly listen when interviewing agencies.  Glib, fast talking sales executives have one job.  To land the account.  Many will offer the moon, extraordinary results that are not backed up by success metrics.  CEOs need to shop for a car with four wheels that have air in them.  Otherwise, they will have a slow and often painful trip that doesn’t get them to the desired destination. You are looking for a partner in the effort and not merely a vendor.  The distance between the two is huge.

So, what would be the criteria CEOs should use in the selection process?  Just like any other strategic partner you need to know about how long and deep their expertise is, what their client base looks like, referrals and recommendations and pricing. To be fair at this point CEOs must be honest with their expectations, what their goal is, how much time will be allowed to gain maximum results.  Be mindful of the relationship going forward.  Are you comfortable with the conversation, does there appear to be a synergistic mindset?

Once you have made your choice, either to assign project work or full campaigns, be prepared to explain your company history, the management style, the level of input you will require and even the culture your company possesses.

The point is you don’t want to miss the opportunity and you must determine how much help, if any, you are going to need to reach your goal.

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Greg Demetriou

Greg Demetriou

The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder of GregsCornerOffice.com and the host of the Ask A CEO video and podcast show. He can be reached at [email protected].To learn more about Greg, read Greg's full bio page.