Leadership Matters

Perspectives on the key issues impacting senior leaders and their organizations
January 26, 2023

Five Ways the CEO and CMO Can Align in Difficult Times

In this turbulent market rife with inflation and economic uncertainty, even successful companies are seeing their stock prices suffer. So how can CEOs and boards align with their chief marketing officers to ensure the marketing function can help the organization weather the storm?

In our work with CEOs and CMOs, we’ve identified five areas that can help you diagnose the function’s effectiveness during turbulent periods.

  1. Strategic alignment. Is your marketing function in alignment with the strategic vision laid out by the CEO and the board? Has it developed a marketing plan that supports your ambitions?
  2. Leadership. Does your marketing function have the right leadership team in place? Has your CMO acted swiftly in the face of challenges to rebalance and reinvigorate their team, raising the bar on expectations, and building needed capability? Equally, is marketing partnering effectively with key peers in finance, technology, data, analytics and elsewhere to drive desired outcomes?
  3. Adaptability. As companies try to do more with less, is marketing willing to scrap the old playbook and explore new channels, new messaging and different approaches to improve efficiency?
  4. Embracing insights and data. Is marketing on top of how consumer behavior is evolving? How is the function using first- and third-party data to understand new and emerging needs? Is marketing tying those insights back to pricing, product and messaging changes?
  5. Brand protector, warrior and advocate. When every penny matters, as it does right now, your brand will set you apart by giving consumers an emotional reason to choose you. A down economy is not the time to abandon your brand; it’s actually a time when smart investments can deliver outsized returns in market share and consumer affinity. Is your CMO and the marketing team proving the leadership needed for the long-term health of the business?

Where that leaves us

The uncertainty of today’s consumer market is a clear and present danger for CEOs and their boards, hindering growth in the short term, obscuring forecasting in the long term, and leaving them a limited number of reliable solutions in the interim. In this environment, the CMO must play a crucial role as a partner in ensuring that the company is meeting its needs and expectations.

Examining the five areas above can help you better assess your current marketing posture and determine whether it needs an adjustment.