October 19, 2019

How to Promote Effective Marketing Decision Making


Recently our team had the pleasure of attending the Pros & Content Conference hosted by Knotch Inc. The one-day event was packed with an all-star crew of marketing executives and CMOs from various industries all centered around one topic: content. But, as one panelist mentioned early in the day—what is content, really? It’s everything! So naturally, everything about being a successful modern marketer was covered, including one of our favorite topics covered by Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JP Morgan: how to promote effective marketing decision-making. Let’s unpack that.


Any seasoned marketing executive knows that one of the most difficult parts of being a marketer is getting to a decision (notice the distinction from making a decision). Working in an organization, however large or small, decisions become exponentially complicated as more and more people and opinions are added into the mix. As marketers, some of our best ideas can die by the decision-making process before ever seeing the light of day, so learning to navigate it effectively is one of the most crucial things a marketer can do.

Decision-making is above all a human process, and like anything human, emotion and extreme passion can ultimately confuse otherwise rational processes. We need to be able to effectively embrace our humanity and navigate around emotion to enable our teams to make effective decisions and do their best work.


In the first session of the day, Anda Gansca sat down with Kristin Lemkau who shared some of her best tips and methods for creating an environment where decisions can be made effectively. Leading marketing at an organization of over 250,000 people globally, multiple businesses, and some of the brightest colleagues in management—Kristin knows what she is talking about!

frank costanza banner

1.) Have a Festivus Meeting

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, then you probably remember the holiday that Frank Costanza created called “Festivus” (a great site here that built out all the rules of the fictional holiday). One of the key components of Festivus is “The Airing of Grievances” where every participant tells friends and family all of the instances where they disappointed him or her over the past year.

The best creative people are often challenging to manage, so sometimes a Festivus is exactly what your team needs to get everything out on the table and back on track. Two ground rules to ensure your Festivus is successful:

  1. No one leaves until everything is sorted out. By ensuring that everyone sticks with it until all grievances are aired out and solved for, each team member has a real incentive to contribute and ensure that their voice is heard. These meetings can take some time, so if you expect a longer session plan it for a Saturday (your team will be especially productive and not distracted by a need to rush home).
  2. This is the one meeting. No pre-meetings, post-meetings or other back-channeling. This is your one opportunity to get everything out with everyone.Satellite meetings threaten to create smaller alliances.

2.) No serial extreme convictions.

Extreme convictions can be healthy and productive—it’s important that your team has a strong point of view and passion for what they do, but it’s important to note when someone seems to hold extreme convictions on everything.

If you feel that someone is creating harm to or detracting from team efforts because they hold their convictions too strongly, it may be time to remove that person from decision-making processes.

One important exception: Never ignore convictions that are a matter of ethics or integrity.

3.) Less meetings.

Meetings are soul-sucking and far too often marketers end up spending their entire day in various rooms trying to get decisions made rather than executing all of the different initiatives they work so hard to create with their team.

Instill in your team the need to have a clear agenda and purpose for a meeting before ever sending out an invite, or accepting one. Don’t be afraid to say no, I can’t attend this meeting if there is no defined purpose. No one will be upset that you spent more of your day getting things done!

4.) Establish a decision hierarchy.

Right at the beginning of a meeting, ensure that a clear hierarchy has been defined, putting particular focus on the single decision-maker in the room, contributors and anyone with veto power.

For example, if you’re having a meeting about a web refresh the hierarchy might be as follows:

  • Jane Smith, CMO – decision-maker
  • Bobby Joe, Creative Lead – contributor
  • Sandra Sandy, Writer – contributor
  • Sally Sonheim, CFO – contributor
  • Samantha Stone, CEO – veto power

With this clear hierarchy, meeting attendees know who holds decision-making power/responsibility, who is there to contribute their thoughts, and who can veto the decision-maker. This makes it far easier to prevent any meeting missteps, defuse unproductive extreme conviction holders, and ensure that Highly Paid Personal Opinions (HPPOs) are kept in check.

We had a great time at the Pros & Content Conference and took away so many insights. Thank you to Anda Gansca and the entire Knotch team for a top-notch event! And a special thanks to Kristin Lemkau for sharing her time and insights.

For more information on Pros & Content and to keep the conversation going, visit prosandcontent.co

Subscribe to our newsletter

We value your privacy. We don't spam.