What Executives and Board Members Forget

After doing marketing for 15+ years and eventually being CMO of a team of 100+ marketers, I think I know something about marketing. In my current role as board member, advisor and investor, I often talk to companies about their marketing. We brainstorm ideas, review metrics, and put plans in place. It is really easy to walk into those meetings, look at the numbers and come up with some ideas for what the strategy should be, and then walk out and say “great, this should be easy — they just have to do the things we talked about.” In fact, I did that recently myself.

But then today I was a speaker on the webinar that was part of the marketing plan we discussed. And the webinar system we used crashed at the start of the webinar. There we were with two C-level speakers logged into the system taking time out of their days to present, but none of the people attending the webinar could hear us. The marketing team freaked out and scrambled to fix things, but could not make it work, so we rescheduled the webinar for a new time a couple weeks from now. We went from something that should have been simple — and now it will take 3x more time and effort to complete.

Here’s the lesson: Strategy is easy, but execution is hard. The details are hard. Things never go as you plan. Things break at the worst times. Simple things that should take an hour end up taking a whole day because things don’t go right. If you are an executive, board member or investor, make sure you never forget that.
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