Another edition of the bi-annual survey of CMOs published by Christine Moorman, a professor at the business school at Duke University, was published at the end of August. I’ve read and written about the survey since about 2013 and have found it to be an interesting indicator of industry benchmarks.
This time around survey polled 341 senior marketers – 95% of which hold the title of vice president or higher – to produce the survey. About 34% of respondents identified themselves as employed by B2B product companies, while another 31% said B2B services, so overall about 60% of respondents are senior leaders in B2B marketing organizations.
Here are some of the findings that stood out for me:
1) Senior marketers expect budgets to grow.
Overall, most marketers expect their budgets to grow by 8.7% over the next 12 months. For B2B product companies that number came in at 7.1% and for B2B services it was 10.1%.
Actual budgets have grown by 6.3% in the last 12 months. For B2B product companies, that reality has been much lower at 3.2% while B2B services companies have gleaned 8.3%.
In terms of the overall company-wide budget, marketing accounts for about 12%. That average gets some help from the B2C side because specific numbers for B2B product come in at 10.3% and for B2B Services it was 11.0%.
2) Where marketers are spending their budget.
How are they spending that budget today?
“Companies prioritize print, search engine optimization, and other paid digital media (including trade shows and partnerships) among all paid media options,” according to the report.
Indeed, the survey says marketing spends 15.9% of the marketing budget on print. That figure was higher among B2B product companies at 22.1% and lower for B2B services at 9%.
Other spending benchmarks break down this way:
- 6% of budget is spent on paid search (think pay-per-click or PPC);
- 4% of budget is spent on display (including programmatic);
- 8% of budget is spent on paid social;
The survey also show a whopping 40% is spent on paid other. “When asked to clarify which ‘paid other’ media they meant, respondents most frequently noted trade shows, sponsorships, and direct mail,” according to the report.
3) Marketing investment in T&D peaks.
Marketing spend on training and development (T&D) has reached the highest level in 5 years, at 5.8% overall. B2B product companies are spending about 6.4% of budget on T&D while B2B services organizations are investing 5.6%.
In my assessment, the money going to T&D reflects the current economic climate. The economy is still growing, and unemployment is low. Training is one way to develop skills in people you already have and can’t find on the market – and it doubles as a retention tool.
The next time a career or salary survey comes out in your vertical, take a look and you’ll see that salary is important to retention, but so too is growth and development.
4) Do employees trust their brand?
The survey asked senior marketers, “How well do your company employees trust your company’s brand?” Overwhelmingly, marketing leaders indicated they thought they did. On a scale of 1 through 7, where seven was best, about 68% gave themselves a 6 or a 7.
I’d challenge senior marketers to test their assumptions and pose that question directly to your employees with your own internal survey. Why? In this politicized environment, marketing rightly keeps a pulse on customers but might forget about employees (here is an outstanding post on that point). The CMO that assumes they know the answer is risks getting blindsided by this on an otherwise idle Tuesday.
You’re going to be drawn into the process for addressing the issue – it’s better to get ahead of it now. More importantly, a survey is a good way to start a conversation with employees, communications breeds trust, which will help an organization navigate contentious issues more smoothly.
5) Technology isn’t replacing marketers yet.
A similarly structured question address technology and marketing roles. The survey asked, “To what extent are new technologies replacing marketing employees in your company?” More than three-quarters (76%) gave it a 1 or a 2, again on a 7-point scale, which indicated that technology isn’t replacing marketing employees.
The numbers move a little bit when asked if this will happen over the next three years, but not enough to suggest anyone in marketing is hitting the alarm button. So, no, martech is not marketing and we’ve seen historically, that technology augments and shifts requisition requirements, rather than eliminates them.
Indeed, a follow-up question under the “marketing organization” section of the report shows about 60% of senior marketers do believe technology has “strengthened importance of marketing” at least to some degree. Answers to this question ranged on a 14-point scale from -7 to +7, where the average landed at 2.75.
That strength is likely due to analytics and the ability to prove the value marketing in a way that was not possible in a pre-digital world. The report notes that “budget spent on marketing analytics has grown steadily over the last three years” and that “marketing analytics contributes more to company performance than social media, mobile.”
6) More, but not most, senior marketers inclined to mix brand and politics.
About 27% of senior marketers survey said they were “brands to take a stance on politically-charged issues than in years past.” While the vast majority – 73% – are not inclined to mix brand and politics. However, the minority that is willing has inched up over time – and that has dominated the narrative – and the survey organizers were pushing this angle in their pitch.
It’s very risky for any marketer to conclude this means their brand should get political. Like mama, always said, “Would you jump off a cliff if 27% of your peers did?”
My own primary research shows there are many variables, nuance, and context – not to mention longstanding marketing factors like loyalty, quality, convenience, and price – all have an effect. Getting involved requires careful research and consideration and if after completing that process you feel your brand is still obligated, then consider how your brand might bring people together rather than picking a side.
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