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Stress Less, CEOs: How to Ease the Angst of Marketing Decision-Making

Stress Less, CEOs: How to Ease the Angst of Marketing Decision-Making

Many CEOs I work with say to me: Marketing decision-making should be easy.

My answer? It. Is. Not.

Marketing can drain resources. It often yields tepid results. Plus, it puts you into tension with your CFO who is asking you, “Why did you spend all that money on marketing?” You may even start asking yourself that same question.

So, what happens? Business leaders often throw their hands up in frustration and indecision. But, it doesn’t have to go this way.

A marketing roadmap: the gift that keeps on giving.

There are a few foundational elements that can help you make the right marketing decisions for your business. Because, when it comes to marketing, the investment you're going to make is going to take time, money, and energy. Even the most experienced CEOs know just how much is at stake.

Committing to a living, breathing strategy helps you get off the spin cycle of marketing decision-making — and prevents the stagnation that comes from not knowing how much to spend on marketing, and what to spend it on.

And, it gives you a roadmap you can use to guide your team. That “gift” ensures that your vision for your company has a roadmap that can actually be implemented — not just in products/services and sales, but also in your marketing.

[Related: Young in Sales: Advice From Leaders for Leaders]

Optimize your marketing plan to yield the best outcomes.

Some marketing decisions feel very certain. Some feel very random. And, when creating a plan, that plan is only as good as the outcome it yields. So, there are a few aspects to tackle.

First, the many questions… Which of the many audiences you could market to, should you market to? What's that going to cost? Does your in-house team even have the skills to execute with excellence? How long is it going to take?

A lot of companies wrestle with these decisions, and they suffer from paralysis. They actually end up doing nothing. Other companies actually try to do everything. Unfortunately, that results in one of two outcomes. Either they spread themselves way too thin, and there's not enough to go around; or, they actually overspend and waste their money on marketing that doesn't work.

Hearsay in the marketplace is also very influential. We're around lots of smart-thinking people who have opinions on how to spend marketing dollars wisely.

And of course, there's the competition — always there in the back of our minds. Are we doing what they're doing? Should we be doing what they're doing?

[Related: Create Your Own Version of Success]

Avoid the road to random.

When you have a roadmap to follow, some of the decisions are easier to make. There’s data on past performance and numbers based on revenue expectations. You know what your goals are. You understand your channel strategy. You have clear KPIs.

When all this comes together, you can be more patient, less impulsive. You’re no longer operating only on instinct. With well-defined goals, you can put guard rails up to guide your team against the specific goals you’ve committed to. As one of my coaches says:

You can now see around the corners.

When there is no plan, it's really a road to random. With a plan in place, you have the confidence and the knowledge (and the right team) to move forward.

[Related: Three Ways to Use Storytelling in Your Technical Communications]


Ilene Rosenthal is the CEO of White Space Marketing Group.

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