5 Ways to Sell Digital Marketing to Analog Executives

Jaclyn Crawford Issue 09 - Jan/Feb 2014, Marketing & Sales Leave a Comment

These 5 tips will help CMOs overcome tech skepticism in the C-Suite.

These days, it is hard to imagine life without technology. No matter the industry or application—whether sales or service, media or medicine—technology has become an intricate and inextricable part of every facet of our lives. But however prevalent, one glimpse into many C-Suites across the country reveals evidence of a digital disconnect.

Like other revolutions before it, digital marketing has not taken hold at the executive level, but from the bottom up, originating with 20- and 30-somethings who came of age on the social Web and are now steeped in digital culture and practice. All of which means that, despite the changes in Corporate America, assimilation to the digital culture at the executive level remains incomplete.

Not all Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have been slow to convince their company executives of the importance of digital marketing, but for many others efforts to make digital an integral part of their marketing plan have been less successful. For the latter CMOs, resistance from the executive ranks—born of unfamiliarity, fear or even misperceptions about what digital marketing means for a brand—remains an obstacle to overcome.

Five-Step Solution Process

According to a recent Gartner Inc. report, 70 percent of marketing organizations have a Chief Technologist on payroll reporting to the CMO. By 2015, an estimated 25 percent of companies will have added the role of Chief Digital Officer to their C-Suite.

In order to foster an environment in which digital marketing becomes a driving force behind brand interaction with current and potential customers, today’s CMO needs to toss out the old playbook and look to create new digital experiences and revenue streams. These efforts should engage consumers in both the physical and digital worlds and provide a sufficient return on investment (ROI). Following are five ways to do just that:

  1. Hire smart, digital- and tech-savvy employees, and empower them. Making a case for digital marketing is a tough sell when few share your vision. Bolster support by bringing new voices to the table and then empowering them to address the challenges your brand currently faces with digital-oriented solutions. Watch as resistance from among the executive ranks begins to fade.
  2. Challenge your teams to think beyond what is currently done. Opening the discussion to how digital marketing might fit into your brand’s big picture also opens the door to ingenuity. Once members of your organization see the possibilities digital affords, adopting new strategies will become a logical next step.
  3. Partner with forward-thinkers. Sometimes, an outside perspective is all it takes to fuel an initiative that has been stalled by shortsightedness. To get the most for your investment, be sure to work with an agency that lives and breathes digital marketing—and one that will serve as a complement to the team you already have in place.
  4. Admit what you do not know. Social, mobile and other forms of digital marketing are not new concepts, but when it comes to understanding how to best use these channels to reach an audience, we have only just begun to scratch the surface. As a CMO, admitting you do not have all the answers sheds further light on just how vast and untapped the digital marketing frontier is, and it encourages further discussion as to how to capitalize on the opportunities it presents.
  5. Harness the power of digital metrics to illuminate results. Old-school marketing lives in the world of analog, where measuring the impact of a campaign is an imprecise exercise. With digital, everything is measurable and traceable to its source, allowing you to make real-time adjustments for maximum results. Track, monitor and measure every digital initiative, no matter how small, and let the results speak for themselves.

By creating new digital experiences and revenue streams, today’s CMOs have an unprecedented opportunity to reach and engage with consumers across the physical and digital worlds and draw them into a more intimate relationship with the brand through targeted, contextually relevant experiences and offers. Much like Apple has done with music, Amazon with IT infrastructure and Netflix with movies, digital marketing also enables brands to redefine how value is created and delivered.

For those CMOs who are experiencing a digital disconnect at the executive level, digital marketing will be an inside job at first. However, if you will take the time to follow the five steps outlined here, you will be well on your way to engaging with your customers on an entirely new level—and repeating the benefits as a result.

Will Wiegler is a respected marketing executive that was featured on our blog.

Comments, thoughts, feedback?