Whether you are a CMO or not, if your work is related to marketing, then the challenges and opportunities facing the CMO are also yours. This is true whether you are in-house or work for an agency.
We all have a responsibility to support the CMO with the inputs from our piece of the puzzle to develop a sound marketing strategy. Similarly, we also are responsible for helping the CMO carry it out – to execute that strategy, iterate, measure and improve.
At the same time, it’s worth recognizing that “Behind every great CMO is a bunch of great people,” as one study in this week’s Unscripted Marketing Links (UML) points out. As it is on the occasional Saturday, the UML is where I round up three ideas – in this case three fairly substantive studies – and present them for your perusal.
1) What CMOs that outperform peers do differently.
Accenture surveyed about 935 CMOs and 564 CEOs around the world and found 17% of respondents said, “they have been extremely successful at delivering highly relevant customer experiences.” Next, the firm examined what CMOs in that cohort of 17%, which they call “pioneering” were doing differently and boiled down the results to three key areas:
a) CMOs that outperform peers continuously look for new ways to drive revenue. “For example, they’re much more likely than peers to be tapping into data monetization initiatives or new ventures.”
b) CMOs that outperform peers challenge the status quo. The report says, “They’re looking inwards in recognition that to enable their organization to flow around the customer, they must challenge business as usual and inspire change.”
c) CMOs that outperform peers challenge. “They recognize that a crucial means to unlocking growth is by breaking barriers: whether that’s silos within their marketing organizations, dissonance between their marketing organizations and the rest of the company, or unrealized opportunities among their agencies and ecosystem partners.”
Statistics that stood out:
- 26% more likely than peers to claim ownership of the customer journey from the first contact through to sales and service – and “benefit from the insights derived from that data.”
- “29% more likely than their peers to be in-sourcing new capabilities.”
- “21% more likely than their peers to be experimenting with new and innovative solutions.”
- “17% more likely to be expanding beyond traditional agency partners.”
- “18% more likely to be engaged with the possibilities offered by digital platforms.”
Comment: The survey data about engagement in digital reflects my experience over the course of my career. Marketing leaders that are half-interested (or less) in digital have teams that half involved in digital.
Full report: Way Beyond Marketing: The Rise of the Hyper-relevant CMO (opens in PDF).
- Study: Small percent of CMOs are driving transformation
- The Changing Role Of The CMO In The Age Of Customer Experience
- Your Marketing Predecessor was Probably a Hot Mess
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2) Communicating the financial impact of marketing to the C-Suite.
Connecting marketing effort to financial impact is the top “C-suite communication challenge” facing the CMO according to the latest survey of CMOs out of Duke University. The bi-annual study of VP-level marketers and above polled 323 respondents for its most recent edition.
When asked to rank the “following marketing leadership activities” challenges, here’s how the answers stacked up:
- 64% said demonstrating impact on financial outcomes;
- 39% said infusing the customer’s point of view in business decisions;
- 37% said communicating the role of the brand in business decisions;
- 36% said linking marketing investments to important business objectives;
- 35% said securing cross-functional support for new marketing investments;
- 13% said using business terminology that resonates outside of the marketing function; and
- 38% say the top challenge is driving growth; the next closest was cutting through the clutter with 14%.
Interestingly, the survey also found just one in every three CEOs have experience in marketing.
The study also found that some of the ways marketing is investing are changing. For example, more companies are returning to “channel partners to go-to-market in 2019” after a dip of about two years.
Businesses are also doubling down marketing investment on existing offerings, rather than trying to develop new ones. The marketing spend on domestic markets has steadily increased – by 10% since 2012.
Statistics that stood out:
- With the exception of B2B product companies (7%), marketing budget growth slowed to 5% where it’s been ruining at 6% or better since August of 2016. However, most chief marketers expect the budget to see growth rebound to 8% over the next 12 months.
- Marketing hiring slowed slightly to 5% but it spent 5% of the budget on training and development – the highest level in five years.
- Social media spending dropped for the first time since August 2017 from 13.8% of the budget to 11.4%. Even so, senior marketers forecast social media spending to rise to 19.7% in the next 12 months. B2B product companies spend 8.7% of the budget on social.
- About one-quarter or 23% of social media activity is handled by outside agencies. Generally, “B2B product companies outsource marketing at 2X the rate of other sectors.”
- An overwhelming 81% of respondents said it is not appropriate for a brand to take a stance on politically-charged issues. This reflects the findings of my own primary research study – Should Brands Take a Public Stand on Politics? – which I conducted in October 2018 after observing some highly reported calls for brands to get political.
Comment: I’m reminded of an anecdote I’ve seen firsthand more than once, were a CEO that complained to CMO because their competitors were ranking in search results. Upon investigation, those “search results” were actually paid ads – PPC – which means those CEOs didn’t understand the difference between paid and organic search.
It’s really hard to have a conversation about marketing impact when the business doesn’t even understand digital marketing 101. CEOs and business leaders, particularly those without marketing experience, have as much of an obligation to maintain a basic working knowledge of modern marketing, as marketing has to learn how to use data and analytics.
There’s value for the overall business to better understand marketing too. A separate study published in the Journal of Marketing showed that when members of the board of directors had marketing experience, those businesses tended to see better revenue growth.
- A CMO Survey Shows Us How Classic 4Ps of Marketing Are Changing
- Want to Boost Revenues By 5.8% with One Easy Fix? Here’s How
- Marketing without Authority is Marketing without Accountability
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3) The CMO Council infographic on CMO priorities.
The CMO Council held “strategic conversations” with about 100 of its members from around the globe. The results provided what the organization labeled an “audit” that produced some interesting statistics that identify the plans top marketers have in for achieving organizational goals and for developing their team in support of those goals.
The Council summarized the findings in four conclusions:
a) “Upgrading digital and go-to-market capabilities – improving proficiency, process and technology to gain both revenue and customer relationship growth.”
b) “Overcoming obstacles to marketing technology deployment – expediting digital transformation by addressing internal skills, competencies and change readiness, as well as data cleanliness and quality.”
c) “Finding smarter ways to more effectively align and collaborate across C-suite by delivering richer, deeper customer insight and market intelligence.” Indeed, 74% expressed a desire for peer sharing knowledge around “C-Suite engagement, relationship building and alignment.”
d) “Developing marketing team acumen and know-how to overcome digital deficiencies and improve talent performance.”
Statistics that stood out:
Among the top priorities CMOs identified were:
- 40% said improving go-to-market processes and digital marketing capabilities;
- 33% said finding new sources of revenue and improving retention or monetization; and
- 29% said generating more customer conversion and lifetime value.
Among the biggest obstacles to marketing technology CMOs identified were:
- 43% said internal skill set, proficiency and predisposition of the organization;
- 40% said unified, clean, complete and accurate data across all marketing systems; and
- 36% said leadership appetite for making investments when a return is not immediately obvious.
Among the plans CMOs identified for their team development included:
- 74% plan to encourage peer engagement and knowledge transfer;
- 67% plan to [encourage their team] to attend relevant conferences, webinars and online course; and
- 60% plan to run regular internal training and development programs.
Full report: There isn’t a report per se, rather the Council published its finding in an infographic, which is embedded below, and published this press release with some background on the audit: Chief marketers identify strategic areas of focus for 2019.
Comment: Some of these statistics are reflective of the previous two studies, but I’m especially interested in the role of the CMO finding new sources of revenue. This is something more than merely driving revenue or aligning with sales – this is the chance for marketing to truly lead the business and to shape the strategic direction of a company.
- Should Marketing Be Held to a Higher Standard? Off Script No. 38: Lacey Ford of insightsoftware
- Marketing as the Center of Knowledge to Help a Company Grow; Off Script No. 37: Cassandra Sherrill of Softgiving
- The Interim CMO as Change Agent; Off Script #19: Sophie Shiatis
(right click infographic an open in a new window, then click on image for higher resolution)
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Top of Mind Among Senior Marketers: Cliff Notes to 3 Significant Surveys of CMOs
Image credit: Unsplash; data images by the respective study.