18 April 2023

4 ways CEOs can set their marketing team up for success

Clare Methven
Written by Clare Methven

Clare Methven is the Co-Founder of The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. She has over 25 years’ experience working in PR and marketing agencies focussed on construction, financial services and travel companies.

The success or failure of a marketing team has just as much to do with the MD or CEO as it does the marketing team. The business leader has to create the right conditions for success. If those conditions aren’t there, your marketing will always struggle.

So what can the MD or CEO do to help? Over the 12 years we’ve been in business, we’ve worked with over 1,500 business leaders. And time and time again we’ve seen that there are a few key leadership decisions that have a massive impact on marketing performance:

  • Prioritising strategy over tactics
  • Building the team you need to execute 
  • Thinking long-term 
  • Appointing the right person to lead your marketing team

This post will explore each of these in more detail. If you’re looking for more information, as well as our point-of-view on how to get it right, check out our Marketing Manifesto

Prioritising strategy over tactics

The most surefire way to burn through your marketing budget with nothing to show for it is to start ‘doing stuff’ without a proper plan. Or without a proper understanding of what marketing is and how it works. This is an area where the MD or CEO can have a massive influence. 

You don’t need to develop the marketing strategy yourself - in fact, we advise against that (you’re busy enough, right?). But you should champion the importance of strategy over tactics and push your team to develop a proper annual marketing plan and stick to it. Without this, it’s all too easy for the team to get swept up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Strategy is ultimately a leadership issue. Not only developing one for the business but encouraging the rest of the business to think and act strategically. As we’ve written about before, without a plan in place, you’re almost guaranteed to end up wasting money on in ‘random acts of marketing’

Building the team you need to execute

When we start working with a new business, we often find junior marketers who are in over their heads. Being asked to do complex tasks like define the marketing strategy or rebuild the company website, without understanding how they fit into the business plan.

Marketing managers are great for handling day-to-day tasks, but they will need strategic support to keep them focused on the work that matters. And specialist support to do things like copywriting, design and web development. 

The MD or the CEO plays a crucial role in sense-checking whether the business has the skills and experience it needs. And deciding when and where it needs to invest in specialist support in the form of consultants, freelancers or agencies.  

Our experience has almost always been that trying to save money by doing everything in-house quickly becomes a false economy. The work either never gets finished, or the end product isn’t good enough. If these things sound familiar, that’s a good indicator that you could do with outside support.

Thinking long-term enough

Something we often hear when we speak to business leaders who are struggling with their marketing is they feel like they’re switching from one thing to the next. Every six months or so there’s a new agency in town, or a new tool, or a new channel to try out.

It’s easy to end up in this cycle, but it’s important to break out of it. Good marketing is so rarely the result of ‘quick wins’ or cycling through tactics. It’s usually a long-term effort that requires commitment from the business leader to see it through.

As we said earlier, the MD or CEO doesn’t need to define the strategy. But they do need to commit to it and focus on long-term strategic growth, instead of hopping from one thing to the next. We consistently deliver growth for our clients - just look at the case studies and testimonials on our website - but it rarely happens overnight. Thinking long-term is absolutely essential.

Appointing the right person to lead the marketing team

Every team needs a leader–and marketing teams are no different. While it can be tempting to run the marketing team yourself, MDs and CEOs very rarely have the headspace to give it the attention it deserves. And, in our experience, most business leaders would much rather focus on running the business.

So what do you do?

Obviously, we’re biased in this regard, but if you can’t afford to hire a full-time Marketing Director (typically £100,000 - £125,000 a year) then it’s worth considering the part-time option. 

A part-time Marketing Director gives you access to top-tier marketing talent on a flexible and affordable basis. You don’t need to commit to anything long-term or deal with the admin of hiring a full-time employee. Best of all, you benefit from their decades of experience growing revenue and improving marketing ROI

Get more information on setting your marketing team up for success

Our Marketing Manifesto will talk you through each of these four leadership decisions and share our point-of-view on why they matter and how we can help. We also share some real-life examples of how we’ve helped our customers.

If you’d like to find out how you can transform your marketing and your business, take our ten-minute marketing maturity score assessment. Or, get in touch.


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Since 2010, we’ve helped business owners make sense of marketing.
To make smarter decisions and make the most of their investment.

So if you’re tired of switching from one thing to the next hoping one will stick, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.