Marketing-la-la-land: What CEOs Really Think about Marketing Folks Isn’t Pretty

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

loser winnerNothing personal, but most corporate CEOs don’t have a high opinion of their own marketing team. They think operate in a “marketing-la-la-land” and don’t have their shoulders into the heavy lifting of “generating, tracking and boosting customer demand.”

We’d like to hear what you think about this study. How does the working relationship among hospital administrators, CEOs and the healthcare marketing and communications team compare with attitudes of business leaders and decision-makers? The atmosphere may not be as good as you think. In fact, it’s not a pretty picture at all.

Corporate CEOs are largely unimpressed with the work done by marketers, as we read the findings of a study of Global Marketing Effectiveness by The Fournaise Group. The majority (80 percent) of CEOs surveyed “admit they do not really trust and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers.” By comparison, “90 percent of the same CEOs do trust and value the opinion and work of CFOs and CIOs.”

At the heart of the discontent is that, in the mind of the CEO, marketing isn’t on the same page as the boss. Even if you allow that marketers are good in their professional work, it’s a matter of marketers understanding how they are being viewed and support provided to what’s vital to the business. The Fournaise report says, “It’s not a game of data, but rather a game of the ‘right & relevant’ data for the right purpose and the right decision-making, with no fluff around.”


80% – Don’t trust marketing’s work; too disconnected from company financial realities

78% – Marketing often loses sight of their real job of generating measurable customer demand

75% – Marketing misuses the term ROI

71% – Technology is a support tool and doesn’t create demand per se

69% – Marketing lives in a creative and social media bubble; focused on “likes,” “tweets” and other parameters that are CEO-judged “interesting but not critical.”

 If marketers want to earn the trust of CEOs—and have a stronger standing in the boardroom—they need to “cut the rubbish.” Instead, understand and focus on the metrics that are critical to the CEO. Founaise reports, “They will have to transform themselves into true business-driven ROI Marketers or forever remain in what 65 percent of CEOs call Marketing la-la land.”

How would the administration of your hospital or health system come down in a survey like this? Is the CEO mindset about marketing the same as the business leaders in this report? Have you done a critical self-evaluation about trust and delivering on financial realities?

Let us know what you think. Is your situation “no-fluff,” or “marketing-la-la-land?”

Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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