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3 interesting things CMOs revealed about marketing talent in this survey

A poll of 292 marketing leaders finds CMOs attribute success to marketing talent – and they are making the case that growth requires them to hire more

What would you do with an unexpected extra $1 million in the marketing budget?

The CMO Survey polled 292 marketing leaders and asked this question. The number one answer CMOs gave was that they’d invest it in talent (17%) – both hiring and professional development.

Rounding out the top five answers were the following:

  • 17% would invest in hiring and talent development;
  • 10% would invest in more digital ads;
  • 8% would invest in brand building;
  • 7% would invest in AI or automation; and
  • 5% would invest paid media.

I think this number speaks volumes to the state of B2B marketing.

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The tech sector in particular has reported record earnings and then turned around and announced layoffs. Marketing took more than its share, and as companies are rolling out ambitious growth goal, CMOs are sending a clear signal many of them are understaffed.

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1. Marketing talent contributes to growth

The survey asked respondents who outperformed the market what factors contributed to their success. A sound marketing strategy was the top answer by far. Talent was cited in the fourth spot, but there’s an argument to be made that all the top factors revolve around talent.

The survey asked a similar question to underperformers – what caused the underperformance? Most pointed to a lack of budget, but the lack of talent ranks here too.

Looking at the top line on both columns: it is interesting that when a company outperforms the market, marketing is inclined to say they got the strategy right. Yet when a company underperforms, marketing points to a lack of budget.

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2. CMOs are hiring – and may be doing it creatively

The CMOs that responded to this survey indicate they are hiring too. The 4.4% growth rate in hiring is lower than last fall, but higher compared to year-over-year.

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Interestingly the survey showed many B2B companies are reinvigorating their channel sales efforts. Indeed, I’ve seen several new job requisitions of interest to communicators: partner communications and internal communications. In reviewing the listings, these roles seem to me closer to sales enablement for partners, customer marketing and new sales too.

This suggests there’s a lot of resistance to marketing headcount growth – yet CMOs are getting these roles approved by aligning them with sales.

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3. Marketers want to work for organizations that value marketing

The survey asks a question that really stands out for me: Is marketing valued in your organization?

Respondents can answer this question on a seven-point scale where 7 is highly valued and 1 is not valued. B2B product companies average a score of 5.1. If were to change that scale to a letter grade, the average score would be 71 out of 100 – a C-minus.

To me, that sums up the magnitude of the challenge that CMOs in B2B marketing face every day. We know marketing talent is crucial to growth – and the best candidates are going to go where they feel valued. This is probably a good question for CMOs to ask their team periodically. Set it up like an NPS survey and keep an eye on the needle moves and share that with your peers on the executive team.

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The Spring 2024 edition of The CMO Survey is freely available for download. The survey polled 292 marketing leaders. Nine in 10 (94%) hold titles of vice president of marketing or higher. Thirty-eight percent of respondents are from B2B product companies and another 24% are from B2B services companies.

I first read about this particular data point on Marketing Charts: CMOs Credit Strategies and Talent with Market Outperformance

>>> Need an extra pair of hands? Sword and the Script Media can help with B2B marketing, PR and social media.

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Image credit: Unsplash and respective report

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