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Marketing is what I often like to call the "gluey middle" of an organization. When it connects with multiple other departments, it helps the entire business stay on brand, connect with the customer, and keep all business efforts integrated and aligned on meeting goals.

All too often, however, CEOs see their marketing department as a standalone function focused simply on lead generation, branding, and advertising. That approach severely limits the marketing team's ability to support the overall enterprise. What's worse, it gives rise to gaps in connecting the customers' interests to the rest of the organization.

It's time CEOs recognize the full potential of their marketing team. When functioning at their full potential, marketing departments are advocates for the customers, keepers of the value proposition, and protectors of the brand.

Key Roles CEOs Need on a Top-Notch Marketing Team

Multiple roles comprise a top marketing team; a marketing division with only one specialty can't do it all. Of course, the roles needed for each team vary according to company objectives and size. Even in midsize organizations, there are people who drive branding, people who focus on content, people who collaborate with digital marketing, and people who handle advertising.

The power of marketing happens in the marriage of the message and the medium.

CEOs frequently overlook the marketing roles that plan and create content, but the need for expertise in those roles is no less important than in branding. When those roles are overlooked, the marketing team members often feel as though they are scrambling to keep up with content for emails, websites, social media, and paid campaigns.

On the media side of advertising, smaller organizations often skimp on the role that acquires analytics. They reason that, with the primary work done, measuring results is a luxury.

But the analytics role, whether part of the marketing department or outside of it, is critical to having meaningful feedback on which activities are producing a return on investment. Analytics should guide every decision the advertising division makes.

Skill Sets and Personality Traits That CEOs Should Look for in Their Marketing Team

Marketers have to be master collaborators. They continually pull together the needs of multiple functional areas to deliver strong, creative campaigns that resonate with customers. Expertise in written and spoken communication skills is a must.

Flexibility and the willingness to adapt are other vital traits for the advertising department. Your marketing team should be open to changing tactics based on data and customer feedback. Because digital channels are dominating media buys, it is easier than ever to see whether a campaign is delivering the desired result. If it isn't delivering, a nimble mindset can facilitate a quick pivot.

Your marketing team can also benefit from a good sense of humor and thick skin. Everyone who works in a company is a consumer. Many think they know marketing inside and out, and they are more than willing to share their "brilliant" ideas with the marketing team. Oddly enough, my counterparts in accounting swear they rarely deal with that issue.

In all seriousness: advertising team members receive feedback from every direction, which can be challenging. Clients, customers, other departments, and management all have something to say about their work. They continually function under creative deadlines, and people mercilessly analyze the effectiveness of their creative products.

Because of that, your marketing team needs that rare combination of confidence and humility we call a growth mindset. Only that personality type can make mistake and bounce back from feedback uncrushed.

How CEOs Should Approach Their Marketing Team to Achieve Organizational Goals

For best results, CEOs should include Marketing early in their strategic planning process. That allows the marketing department to facilitate goals, keep plans connected to the customer's needs, and have a voice in budgeting.

Many CEOs have learned the value of approaching the marketing team in that way, but there are others who still limit the team's role to a single task, such as creative contributions or lead generation. Those CEOs are missing out on many opportunities that spring from the synergy that Marketing brings to the strategy table.

Diversity of functional viewpoints always strengthens an executive leadership team. Involving the marketing teams early on keeps initiatives rooted in shared strategy, and it prevents them from devolving into using disjointed tactics.

As a CEO, continue to think broadly while you build opportunities and deliver ROI. Are you asking your marketing team about its recommended growth initiatives? Are you checking back to see what channels are delivering solid returns?

* * *

As you become more deeply connected with your marketing department, you will discover dozens of places to adjust ad spend and find emerging opportunities to engage customers.

If you fill out a well-equipped marketing team and then learn to lean on that team's expertise, it will deliver much more than you ever imagined.

More Resources on Building a Marketing Team

How to Build a Great Marketing Team in 2023: Paul Flaharty on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

How to Build an Outstanding Marketing Team: A Seven-Step 'People Strategy'

Construct a Rocking Marketing Team [Infographic]

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CEOs' Must-Haves for Their Marketing Teams

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image of Julia Fitzgerald

Julia Fitzgerald is the CMO of the American Lung Association and the author of Midsize.

LinkedIn: Julia Fitzgerald