Accenture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Two pieces of news came out this month on the state of the Chief Marketing Officer. First the good news... according to Advertising Age and Spencer Stuart, CMO tenure has more than doubled from 23 months to 45 months. Now the bad news. A new Accenture study claims that 4 in 10 Chief Marketing Officers say they do not have the right people, tools, and resources to meet their marketing objectives. So, research shows that there is a strong correlation between being unprepared and keeping your job; a real turn of events for marketers that prided themselves on being prepared as they were summarily fired.
The Reality of the CMO
CMO's operate in a complex and accountable environment. Fortunately, all of this responsibility has contributed to a higher level of transparency and importance. Take Facebook as an example. The CEO can now touch the brand by visiting the Facebook page, by watching the Like counts grow and by reading posts that express the true relationship between consumers and the brand. It also demonstrates how the brand and the customer relationship are the responsibility of the entire enterprise, not just the CMO. If that isn't enough, measured media can draw a straight line between revenue and marketing driven sales contribution.
The CMO Challenge
In terms of CMO's feeling unprepared, this is a direct result of the need to improve operational effectiveness and test new marketing channels. The role of the CMO in aggregate hasn't changed much....to deliver and optimize workflows that make a measurable contribution to the business. What has changed dramatically is the number of marketing channels that require unique expertise and a technology investment, not to mention integration with existing systems. The challenge is to validate these channels within a time frame that doesn't test the patience of the Executive Team. With every new channel comes risk for the CMO due to required incremental resources on staff and technology.
Unfortunately, while most marketers see a new channel as the equivalent of giving birth to a baby that requires care and upbringing, the CFO views every channel as an adult that can be judged within the fiscal year. The result of all this is a drop of 5% in the number of CMOs that feel prepared vs. the 2011 Accenture study.
The Case for Marketing Demand Systems
Luckily, there is a solution to the CMO paradox of longevity and being unprepared. Firms like MMB Marketing Demand Systems are offering CMO's fully optimized workflows that can be immediately used to test new marketing channels at a fraction of the cost associated with building internal capabilities. Marketing channels such as social, organic search (and content marketing), paid digital media and CRM can be tested using these types of solutions on a trial basis. Results can be used to justify an in-house investment, or to continue with an outsourced solution.
This type of approach benefits the CMO in several ways including the ability to minimize the size of the internal marketing staff and technology investment while aligning marketing expenses with clear outcomes. It also protects the CMO from being associated with high internal staffing costs during times of organizational change. Answering questions and internal probes become a conversation around where investments were deployed and the associated results.
The new world of the CMO is one where every new channel is tested and optimized outside of the enterprise. Without the burden of staff and technology, the CMO can be nimble in the way they turn on and off various initiatives. Internal costs never become an issue, while external investments are completely aligned with outcomes. This approach will not only help the CMO survive, but once again become prime candidates for CEO.