CMO Impact
Achieving Personal & Career Success

Play Polite Politics

December 01, 2014


Synopsis How do you get your innovative ideas embraced, supported and implemented? It’s about cultivating common ground to establish synergistic and positive relationships. Four key actions help you play polite politics and get company buy-in: Clarity, Preparation, Communication and Fortitude. This article share specific tips in each area and includes ideas and examples.

After interviewing leading marketers, five behavior patterns were identified as the underpinnings of marketing genius. This article details Pattern #4: Play Polite Politics in a quick why, what, how format to provide actionable ideas to help enhance your own marketing genius.

 This article is part of a series covering excerpts from “Unlocking The Five Patterns of Marketing Genius” 

  1. Unlocking The Five Patterns Of Marketing Genius (Overview)
  2. Construct Customer-Centricity
  3. Gel Goals and Hone Focus
  4. Cultivate a Creative Culture
  5. Play Polite Politics
  6. Magnify Marketing Mindset

PATTERN #4 OF 5:  Play polite politics 

by Michelle Reeb, Inspired by Taryn Voget

Why. Eureka! Lightning has struck and you’ve just thought of the innovative idea you’ve been searching for. You know your idea is “a winner”, but the only way to turn your vision into reality is through the support of your executive team. How will you achieve the buy-in you need? Play polite politics.

What. The winning game plan is simple. Cultivate common ground to achieve the results you want.

Clarity. Begin with a clear understanding of the goals that you wish to achieve. You might approach it by identifying a problem and showcasing the solution.

Preparation. In the Everyday Genius Institute study, a clear pattern was identified among Genius CMOs for how they would measure success ahead of time. Gain the confidence of executive peers by taking your vision beyond your ‘gut feel’.

Communication. Gaining buy-in before your big meeting is a game of thoughtful persuasion. Work with supporters and opposition to get everyone to vote YES!

Fortitude. Marketers and salespeople often have a reputation for being enthusiastic, but lacking in follow-through. Don’t let your great idea die on the vine. Be persistent in your pursuit to make it happen.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” – William Edward Hickson


1. Clarity:  Gain momentum through clear and consistent goals that get everyone moving in the same direction.

IDEA:  Begin with the end in mind:

Visualize the path you’ll need to take to get your forward-thinking idea to come to life. What will happen if your plan is implemented? Think through the steps: concept -> plan -> implementation -> results. Share your vision with your team. Keep it informal to get their initial thoughts and reactions.

2. Preparation:  “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

IDEA:  Project Business Case:

Lay a solid foundation for your plan by building a project business case. Incorporate the top selling points and details for how your plan will overcome the biggest objections. Include…

  • The Big Idea
  • Reason(s) to proceed
  • How it aligns with overall company objectives
  • What we hope to achieve
  • How we plan to achieve our goal. (What do we need to do? Who is involved? How much will it cost?)
  • Objections: What they are and how we’ll overcome them
  • Measurements of success

3. Communication:  Take your business case to all team members in advance of the meeting for their review and input.


Assess who is for and against the idea:

  • How would each stakeholder vote?
  • What do they like about the idea?
  • What are their concerns?
  • What do you need to do to gain their support?

Embrace the opposition:

They help strengthen your program. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.” Let the struggle of working through objections lead you to a more robust program that ensures your success.

Disarm the Roadblock:

If, after all of your efforts, there is still one person in the way who doesn’t have a valid concern, find a way to disarm them.

The Silver Lining: Remove high-tensions by focusing on something positive about your roadblock. Remember, it isn’t about being right – it’s about getting it right. Find common ground that supports doing what’s right for all involved.

Think like a lawyer: Control everything you can. Gather known objections and have solid solutions. Get buy-in from everyone you can in advance of the meeting. At your presentation, stay calm when objections fly. The roadblock will likely dissipate through your business case logic, preparedness, and support of the team. 

4.  Fortitude:

If you believe in your idea, let nothing stop you from achieving your goal. I’m reminded of the bumper sticker that says, “well-behaved women seldom make history”. This goes for everyone. Fight for what you believe, even if the world thinks it’s a crazy idea. If you’re passionate about your idea and can support the validity of your concept with facts, your team is bound to follow.


  • Ask Yourself This:  Does doing this get us closer to our goal? If yes, then fight for it.
  • Establish a Pattern of Winning Formulas:  The more often you deliver the expected result, the quicker the approval next time.

An Example: Expanding Horizons

Our team successfully employed these strategies for campaigns, promotions, new products and even as an approach to win clients over. In one example, we were in passionate pursuit of a specific large account. The client told us exactly what was needed to win, but their requirements included two things that were costly and revolutionary for our organization to deliver. We knew no other company could do it and we thought we could. We got buy-in from sales, development, manufacturing, finance, distribution, service and tech support. Special bid approval was required up through the Senior VP level. We did it! And used our success as a flagship example to expand our offerings to serve others.




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