Thoughts and ideas from SHAKE Marketing Group

The Key to CEO Buy-In: How to Align Your B2B Marketing Strategy with Business Goals

Aligning to Your Brand Mission

The Confident Marketer Playbook: Step 5

One of the most concerning complaints we hear from CEOs is that they don't believe marketers understand the business. They don't know how to align marketing goals with the company's mission.

And when I read stats like this one — from Planful's Operational Marketing Index — that only 40% of marketers are setting goals based on company objectives, it's no wonder CEOs see a disconnect. It's not their imagination. And that's why so many C-suite execs are reluctant to fund new marketing ideas or fresh campaigns.

Today, we will explore marketing goals and business goals, and learn how to align your marketing goals and strategies to the business mission. But first, let's have a quick refresher on what we've covered thus far.

A Quick Refresh

Now that you've read this far into my Confident Marketer Playbook, you know how to develop personal confidence as a marketing professional. You understand how to create a positive mindset, and you're thinking ahead.

You're also taking action by developing customer profiles and personas to identify your ideal clients and learn ways to reach and satisfy them.

Now, let's ensure you align marketing goals to match your business goals. We call this business alignment.

What Do CEOs Want From the Marketing Department? Business Alignment

More than half of CEOs (58%) believe key issues with low CMO tenure are the lack of speaking the language of the business and using too much marketing jargon.

When CEOs complain that marketers don't speak the language of the business, they are typically referring to a lack of alignment between marketing goals and the company's broader goals. Specifically, they feel marketers are too focused on metrics specific only to marketing, such as click-through rates, social media "likes," or website traffic, without considering how these metrics tie into broader business objectives, like revenue growth or customer acquisition.

In other words, many marketers speak a "language" specific to their area of expertise but don't use the terminology or metrics that resonate with other executive team members or the organization.

To overcome this challenge, marketers must work to align marketing goals and metrics with broader business objectives. Here's how:

Understand What the Business is Trying To Achieve (Right Now)

Every organization is unique, but here are some of the common business goals that you'll see most:

  • Revenue growth: One of the primary business goals of companies is to increase their revenue year over year.
  • Profitability: Companies strive to generate profits by increasing revenue and decreasing expenses.
  • Market share: Some companies aim to gain market share in their industry or sector and may list this as a specific goal.
  • Innovation: Many companies focus on innovation to drive growth and competitive advantage. They may list their R&D initiatives, new product launches, or technological advancements as an area of focus.
  • Customer satisfaction: Companies often aim to improve customer satisfaction levels to retain customers and attract new ones. They may measure customer satisfaction through surveys and feedback, and NPS scores.
  • Employee engagement: Companies recognize that engaged and motivated employees are essential to success. They may list employee engagement programs, training initiatives, or employee benefits programs.
  • Corporate social responsibility: Many companies consider their social and environmental impact a key business goal. They may include information on their sustainability initiatives, philanthropic activities, or community outreach programs.
  • Diversity and inclusion: C-suite execs are learning that diverse teams can tackle problems faster because they have broader worldviews and a more colorful range of personal experiences. Inclusion is a hot topic and will likely remain so.

While revenue growth and profitability are almost always at the top of any company's priorities, an excellent marketer will reassess these topics at least annually.


Align Marketing Goals to Business Goals When Speaking to the C-suite

Looking at the above list, ask yourself, how do your marketing efforts fit in and support the organization's goals?

Imagine you're preparing to pitch a new campaign to the C-suite. You'll need to work some of those angles and prove your efforts will be rewarding to the organization as a whole.

Revenue Goals

Revenue is an obvious first choice. Every organization — even 501(c)(3)s — must meet minimum revenue requirements to stay in the black or scale up. Hard data always helps. Be ready to explain how much revenue a marketing activity will contribute.

Gaining Market Share

This is another powerful point, often high on an organization's list of priorities. You'll need to explain where the company stands today regarding market share. You also need to get insights into your competitors and their positions in the market. Ask yourself, how will you measure this and present these numbers?


The marketing department has little control over things like bulk purchasing costs or shipping rates, which can significantly affect your company's bottom line. But we can find ways to spend less on customer acquisition. It's all about getting the best "bang for your marketing buck" and illustrating that point to the powers that be.


The marketing team needs to learn what customers want/need continually. It's about seeing your customers' pain points and addressing them. From there, you need to spread the word to existing and potential clients that solutions exist. Innovation goes hand-in-hand with increasing market share, and by solving problems, you'll attract new business.

Customer Satisfaction

Once you've onboarded new customers, the communication must continue. It's important to keep them in the loop on product updates and changes, and it's also essential to tackle customer service hiccups immediately. Finally, ongoing customer satisfaction is vital for building Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA.)

Positive Employee Engagement

Know that the company's employees — past, present, and prospective — are out there every day building a personal brand on social media and other outlets, whether they know it or not! If your company craves positive employee reviews, better talent acquisition and retention, and a healthy social or environmental reputation, the marketing department can help. While your efforts in these realms might not affect revenue directly, they will cascade throughout the business reputation, and they do matter a lot!

How To Set Marketing Goals

Tie Marketing Goals to Revenue

As you're aware, revenue is the money regular business operations generate. And there are several ways to grow revenue. For instance, one can use loss leaders to attract new business and boost sales of related products with higher profit margins. On the other hand, sometimes a price increase for an updated product with elevated packaging is in order. These are only two suggestions to consider.

The customer lifecycle is my favorite tool to align marketing goals with business goals.

Determine if you have a solid plan/goal by addressing the following points and asking the critical questions.

  • AWARENESS: Ask yourself how you are helping to drive brand awareness, and how will you measure this? Are you thinking about visitors, total reach, social media followers, PR or media mentions? Does your plan increase current customer awareness or attract new business?
  • DEMAND: How will you create demand for your products and services? Remember, only 3-5% of your prospects are in market to buy today. "Always on" campaigns, educational content, email newsletters, and webinars are great ways to engage and nurture your audience. Plus, you can measure these activities to see if they are trending in the right direction.
  • SALES: If your plan solves a problem, does it lead to one-on-one conversations with the sales team? If so, how will your marketing plan help sales close more deals (faster) through content, internal training, etc? Does your sales force have the marketing materials and knowledge to explain this solution?
  • RETENTION: Beyond onboarding new customers, will your marketing strategy upsell products to current clients? Does it encourage referrals? Will your efforts move prospective customers further through the sales funnel?

Sales Funnel Statistics

Speaking of the sales funnel, here are some fun statistics you can cite in your next meeting with your CEO about why an investment in marketing is not "nice to have." It's a "must-have."

In 2023:

  • 47% of commercial clients say they spend more time researching their B2B purchases than ever.
  • 96% of a website's visitors are not ready to purchase when they first visit a website.
  • 38% of B2B buyers ask a colleague for their opinion before pulling the trigger on a new buy.
  • 79% of B2B buyers say internet search results affect their decision-making process.
  • 50% of B2B customers note that social media affects their choice.
  • And 50% say a white paper, or another deep-diving document, will affect their choice.

Where To Learn More

LinkedIn recently published a thorough report called Brand-and-Demand, The Key Principles of Marketing Growth, which contains tremendous insights for marketing professionals.

To accomplish this, LinkedIn teamed up with IPA, Les Benet, and Peter Field to discover what it takes to maximize marketing growth. They surveyed 3,702 marketers across nine industries, including tech, travel, healthcare, manufacturing, and more.

Their research suggests the following:

  • Marketers should target both current accounts and prospective clients equally. Targeting existing customers only limits your growth potential. Still, ongoing customer satisfaction remains a key sales driver and leads to referrals.
  • 65% of marketers believe their brands grow best by improving customer loyalty, not spending big budgets on acquisition.
  • Positive branding results are challenging to see in the short term, so many marketers look to demand indicators first.
  • And 75% of all marketers run ad campaigns for six months or less.

Ultimately, your marketing mix needs to be about balance. If your organization is revenue-focused at this time (when is it not?), you can still ensure your ad budgets are spent attracting new business and appeasing your current client base.

What's Next?

Grab a cup of coffee and let all this information simmer in your subconscious. We've covered a lot of ground. In the next segment, Module 6, we'll explore how to create a unique message that is relevant, consistent, and measurable, so stay tuned.

← Read Step 4: Ideate Your Best Customers to Develop Customer Profiles

→ Read Step 6: Create a Value Proposition that Matters to your Customers

A compass points to mission, showing the importance of aligning marketing goals with the business mission.