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The Five: Reporting to the CEO

The Five from Exit Five

Thanks to the 2023 Exit Five presenting sponsors Jasper (AI), Demandwell (SEO)and Zapier (Automation).

This is a new recurring series that we're doing here at Exit Five called The Five where we'll share five lessons or learnings about B2B marketing. 

These insights will be powered by the 3,500 Exit Five community members aka the hive mind for B2B marketers. It's been amazing to watch the community grow and we're lucky to be able to recap and share some of the wisdom of the crowd to share with you in this free newsletter.

This Week's Topic: Reporting to the CEO

Jason Lemkin of SaaStr recently said: "Working directly for a CEO for the first time? Be ready. It's different."

And that got me thinking about reporting to the CEO in marketing for the first time, so I turned to the Exit Five community this week and asked for people to share their first-hand learnings.

Here's a recap of key five themes:

1. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll be given one.

What’s the saying about a failure to plan? This is true for working the CEO. If you are not proactive, managing up, and owning the “plan” you will be given one. It’s almost ways better to come with the plan first. The plan for hiring, the plan for strategy, the plan for that new idea. You need to bring it or else it will be brought to you…

2. Solutions, not problems.

The CEO’s job is to manage problems. All day. She’s managing problems across finance, investors, partners, product. She doesn’t want more problems. She doesn’t have time for more problems. Bring her ideas for solutions. Even if the solution is not perfect bringing solutions allows you to operate from a proactive position and getting the CEO to help you find the right solution vs. reacting to a problem and being given a blank page. You will get more help (and make more progress on almost anything you’re working on) if you come with solutions not problems. Solutions > problems even if you aren’t sure of the answer, a plan forces action because it gives something for the CEO to react to.

3. Optimism.

As one former VP Marketing said: “ CEO’s look to marketing for optimism and finance for pessimism. If marketing is pessimistic, its usually not a good mix.”

4. Proactive weekly updates.

The CEO should never have to ask for the update from Marketing. Marketing should be sending her the update weekly covering only the top items that directly impact the company’s revenue. Include results, wins, what the team did last week, what the team is doing this week, where you’re at vs. set goals, any lessons/learnings, and a callout for where you might be stuck.

5. Share bad news fast.

There will be bad news. And when there is, the best path is to be direct and share it fast. The quicker you can share the bad news the closer you are to working on the problem. And, given the nature of the job, the CEO will be used to bad news. The CEO is dealing with bad news frequently. Don’t hurt the company or put other things at risk by holding onto bad news longer than necessary. Take a big deep breath and tell her. The quicker the better, and the reaction is often better than you might expect.

What would you add to this list? Reply back and let me know. See you next week with a new Five.

- Dave

PS. Burnout and stress in marketing roles are HIGH right now. Like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and Willie Nelson levels of HIGH.

You're watching teammates get laid off, budget get cut, and you're being asked to do more with less (and do it all during a time of uncertainty inside of the company).

This week on our podcast Hana Jacover (marketer turned exec coach) joins to talk about managing burnout, how to get unstuck in your career, fighting the voice of imposter syndrome in your head, how to be a better teammate and co-worker, and using nonviolent communication.

There's no ABM, MQLs, SQLs, or conversion rates in this episode. This one is all about you and your mental health and career.

Check out Exit Five podcast Episode #66 wherever you listen.

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