Lisa Nirell's Marketing Waves Blog

5 Key Skills to Build Better Board Communications

board communicationsBoard communications and relationships can make or break your success as a marketing leader. 

ForbesCMO just published my article on five CMO competencies to help you communicate effectively with your board, and gain commitment to your key initiatives.

This post on improving board communications comes at an important time for our community of marketing leaders. Soon after we published our 4th annual CMO Innovation Trends study, executive search firm Korn Ferry reported that U.S. CMO job tenure has fallen to 4.1 years (you can find the “related link” to the study below). Boards expect more from marketers than in the past. They no longer take a “nose-in and hands-off” management approach.

To make matters worse, Korn Ferry claims that CMOs have the shortest tenure of any person in the C-suite…CMO tenure is half of the average CEO tenure of 8 years. This has a cascading and deleterious effect on other marketing roles, as well as agency and technology vendor relationships.

It’s unfair to attribute high CMO turnover on one factor. But it’s fair to say that several forces contribute to attrition, misalignments and Board malaise. When you embrace these five competencies, you have the power to change these counterproductive practices:

  1. Business units (and some Board members) don’t always and fully understand the marketing function
  2. Clear lines of responsibility across IT, marketing, sales, and the overall customer experience are blurred, if not disintegrating
  3. Lack of commitment from the Board to invest in long-term brand health, and a tendency to focus on short term wins (the revenue “adrenaline rush” mentality). This is especially endemic in publicly-traded U.S. companies.
  4. The burgeoning number of marketing technology offerings can distract marketers from strategic goals (over 7,000 now available)
  5. Rapidly changing, often unpredictable buyer habits require agility, not 12 month “set it and forget it” budget planning behavior
  6. A growing number of customer buying channels to track and support create marketing program confusion and delays
  7. Trust in marketing messages coming direct from organizations is shifting to outside influencers (and customers). Marketers have limited control over outside influencers and social forum discussions
  8. CMOs face enormous pressure to contribute to revenue—even though many have no formal sales background
  9. Marketing practices a different reporting cadence and speaks a different language than the Board.
  10. Some marketers tend to pick the safe route and stay in a programmatic, “order taker” role. Courage fosters confidence; confidence fosters innovation; innovation fosters Board level respect. THAT will strengthen board communications, too.

Review the five essential competencies in my post here. It also includes comments from our Marketing Leaders of DC™ and Atlanta peer groups and guest speakers.

What board communications competency would you like to personally improve? I’d love to hear in the comments section. We will be sure to incorporate your ideas in our future posts and live events.

Related posts:

Marketing Week: CMOs Have the Shortest Tenure in the C-Suite

4th Annual CMO Innovation Trends Study (free) – download your copy and videos here.

What Six Leaders Learned from their Biggest Mistakes of 2016FastCompany blog

5 Rules For Winning Over The C-Suite – FastCompany


copyright 2017, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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