What to ask your CEO to gain her support on starting up the marketing department ?

If I were the new head of marketing with the challenging and tough mission of starting a marketing function at a SME, and for what the CEO and Directors were not aware of its importance nor sensible for its positive impact, I would probably start by asking a few questions.

So, with an adapted speech and wording toward the company’s marketing literacy, I would ask:

1) What is your mission (main Goal) ?
2) What are your objectives for the next two to three years (sales, financial, R&D, Production…)?
3) What kind of Business Strategy (plan) do you have to achieve the objectives and cope with your mission?
4) Do you have a Business model (how is your business structured, how do you make money)?
5) How do you go to market? (how do you present yourself, sale, interact …)How do you choose your products and customers? (If you choose)
6) How do you define your Sales action plan?

You can ask more questions depending on how the questions are going and the information that you are having, the question should bring not only info but also awareness to the company’s directors and CEO for a need: marketing processes and plan.

Next I would show them how marketing can help with specific examples of what I had done before, what the competition is doing and some trendy and adequate examples for social media and more traditional marketing.

After this introductory meeting I would get a mandate to try something, here is the approach:

Step 1:  settle a brainstorming session with CEO, directors and senior staff to discuss subjects related to sales and “go to market” problems and suggestions pairing them with simple marketing solutions session: a call to action session. I would prepare a set of questions to be asked and subjects to be covered: How do they go from production to market? How do they choose what to produce and why? How do they choose their customers? How do they forecast and define sales plans?

Step 2:  schedule a meeting with directors and CEO discuss all the problems/suggestions/marketing solutions pointed out during the brainstorming in a structured way aligning them with mission and business strategy. Propose the implementation of some quick measures and the definition of a marketing plan (straightforward, some quick wins, easy to understand and implement, intuitive and measurable) within a period (preferably short).

However, I know that implementing a marketing strategy (process or plan) in a small and not-sensible-to-marketing company it is not easy.

Recommendations to take away:

– must be simple
– explained and coherent with the business
– Intelligible
– have some quick wins
– exciting and innovatory (sensing unique)
– results must be set up-front with clear path to achieve them
– don’t forget to coach and do with them
– follow-up and more coaching
– do a meeting every fortnight to control and show practical results (objectives achievement)

Good Luck!