Transforming Marketing from Cost-Center to Revenue Generator

18 Mar 24

CMOs often find themselves leading a cost-center. Here are three priorities you should focus on to flip that definition and secure your seat at the table.

For many firms, marketing is often relegated as a cost center, and marketing leaders often find themselves competing for a voice at the strategy table. Despite significant investments into MarTech, CMOs often struggle to demonstrate how they contribute to the company’s bottom line, unlike sales. This causes a funding gap between both departments and intense competition for attribution.

Here’s the truth: from an overall leadership point-of-view, it doesn’t matter how and what is done, if it can drive revenue. Instead of competition, CMOs can significantly amplify their voice by collaborating with sales. From discussions with top CMOs, SBI has uncovered three priorities that leaders should focus on when transforming marketing from a cost center to a key revenue generator.

1. Demonstrate How Every Dollar Spent Contributes to ROI

While marketing today has made significant strides towards demonstrating measurable value to a company, it is still often seen as an expense first. Every aspect of an effective marketing campaign contributes to the bottom line, but to amplify marketing’s voice, CMOs should focus on the metrics that reflect their contribution to revenue growth.

  • Avoid using vanity metrics; leverage on the value created by campaigns as a benchmark.
  • Align marketing results with sales motions to demonstrate contribution to pipeline movement.
  • Demonstrate how investments into MarTech empowers your team to capture the company’s desired results


2. Understand Sales Goals and Partner with Key Sales Leaders

While marketing and sales often compete for attribution at the table, they are two sides of the same coin: essential components in a well-oiled revenue engine. By identifying sales goals and partnering with key sales leaders, CMOs get the opportunity to establish shared objectives that are accepted between marketing and sales.

From sales quotas to closing tactics, marketing can demonstrate how their campaigns can drive more qualified leads down the pipeline, allowing sales to secure higher-value deals for the company. Similarly, by understanding what marketing has planned, sales can leverage ongoing campaigns to smoothen deal closings.

With proactive alignment from CMOs, leaders can turn competition into opportunity. Sales may be the one to close the deal, but CMOs can demonstrate how marketing got them there. From a leadership standpoint, this proves that marketing more than just a checkbox to be ticked off, but a critical component of the revenue engine.

3. Set Goals According to Revenue Growth Model

Often, marketers set up campaigns with a long-term milestone in mind, aiming to build up value progressively. But the company’s revenue growth plans may have other priorities, frequently leveraging short-term goals to gain the competitive edge. This conflict in goal setting poses a significant challenge for CMOs, hurting their credibility at the table.

An opportunity for CMOs to avoid this pitfall altogether starts from the first step. Understand the current revenue growth plan, and then use it as a framework for campaigns. Aligning strategies and campaign execution plans around the company’s goals demonstrate that the CMO and their marketing organization is synchronized with the rest of the functions, giving the other leaders confidence to trust the CMO to move ahead.

Did you have similar priorities for transforming marketing into a key revenue generator? Follow our blog for more insights into helping you build credibility at the table.


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