Here’s Why Marketers are becoming CEOs


Why marketers are becoming first choice as CEOs

As you know, senior marketers have a long list of responsibilities. The downsides to this are long hours, hard slog and a fair bit of stress. But the upside is that you probably know more about your business than anyone else.

This knowledge seems to be driving a new and exciting trend amongst senior marketers: a move to the position of CEO.

Here are some examples

The most recent example of this is Alice Mrongovius. A marketer who joined the SEO team at online takeaway food ordering platform, Hungryhouse, and who has just been named as its CEO.

Others include:

  • Dave Lewis. The former Unilever marketer who Tesco made its chief executive;
  • Nick Varney. A former head of marketing at Alton Towers and now CEO at Merlin Entertainments;
  • Carolyn McCall. The former president of Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL) who became the CEO of EasyJet; and
  • Steve Easterbrook. The former chief brand officer of McDonald’s who now serves as its CEO.

So, what do you really know about running businesses?

As a marketer you will no doubt spearhead the creation of messages and communications that give your brand a differentiated market position; something that ultimately brings in profitable customers. And to do that, you need to know almost everything about your customers. From their age, location and disposable income to their reading / viewing habits, aspirations and where they sit on the Rogers Innovation / Adoption Curve.

And if you are in B2B you will have equally well developed information.

But it doesn’t stop there.

You will also know an awful lot about your competition and how to position your products / services to exploit their weakness or to take advantages of any market gaps.

And if that’s not enough, you more than likely get involved in every department in your business, for instance:

  • Customer services: How satisfied are your customers and which metrics are you using to judge this satisfaction: SERVQUAL, RATER, Net Promoter Scores or any of the others available? Is the number of complaints increasing or declining? Are the complaints handled well and does the business learn from them?
  • IT: Is your CRM system helping your customer experience and creating sales opportunities? What do the latest digital analytics look like? Are you using the best email marketing programme and can you improve results? How are your Apps performing? What technologies are being considered for marketing automation?
  • Finance: Managing your promotional budgets and calculating the exact marketing cost of new customers. Evaluating the best marketing channel for return on investment.  Understanding profitability and analysing the lifetime value of your clients to ensure that they are as profitable as possible. Making sure that your accountants understand that marketing spend is an investment not an expense.
  • Human Resources: You know that people want to work with a company that boasts a good reputation and has a strong mission and vision: two things heavily influenced by marketing. Internal communications which help staff engagement are usually managed by marketing. And according to concepts such as The Service Profit Chain by James Hesket et al, there is an unshakable link between employee satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability. So canny marketers know that happy people equal higher profits.

Raji Srinivasan, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, looked at 552 CEO appointments over a 15-year period and found that significant marketing experience can be a hefty factor in shaping a firm’s objectives.

One of the strongest findings was that ex-marketers are most likely to be named CEOs at firms where differentiation is a key strategy. The researchers also determined that a firm led by a marketer-turned-CEO is likely to place more emphasis on R&D, business diversity and organic growth: sound building blocks for successful firms. 

As customers’ demands for items such as personalisation, better customer services, increased product performance, 24 hour accessibility and increased control over communications increase; maybe it’s no surprise that marketers are rising to the very top of business.