It has been a long, tough road for marketing since the onset of global financial upheaval in 2008. However, the state of marketing in 2011 is a by-product of an even longer path of transformation as the role, mandate, and function of marketing have shifted. As a result, the actual role of the chief marketing officer has also changed, ushering in a new era for both the function and the office.
More than ever before, marketers are implementing transformational programs to revitalize marketing operations, accelerate customer acquisition and revenue, and predict how to better shape and influence market demand. Even in the face of the growing complexity of mapping and modeling the marketing mix, marketing continues to multiply and add new digital channels that present the opportunity for more targeted, timely, and relevant interactions with customers.
Transformation of strategies is top of mind for senior marketers as they look for more efficient and measurable ways to engage audiences and leverage digital media channels. Key among the themes that will prove to be the hallmarks of the year are integration, alignment, and visibility. Marketers are looking to bind the individual tactical execution elements that have come to represent a host of randomly selected activities into a fully integrated, multichannel strategy around a business goal to drive the business forward.
While ideas like “campaign integration” and “multichannel” dominated throughout 2010, it seemed that marketers actually slipped back to an age of disconnected programs and pilots, creating a disjointed patchwork of executable tasks. These “random acts of marketing” inevitably emerged as the fast-moving digital landscape forced many marketing teams to deploy programs from fan pages to apps, only to realize that few, if any, of these points of engagement were connected. With the pressure to simply keep up in the midst of this digital marketing boom, few took the time to incorporate these elements as part of an overall marketing strategy. For many, transformation is a requirement simply to collect the mass of channels that leapt to life through this digital explosion.
Transformation Or Bust!
As marketers reflect over the past year, they are beginning to consider how they can incorporate their various marketing efforts into one unified, cohesive strategy. Transformation of the processes, strategies, and platforms that enable marketing performance is now particularly important to senior marketers as they look for more efficient and measurable ways to engage audiences and leverage digital media channels. According to the 2011 Marketing Outlook survey, 60 percent of marketers intend to set clear goals and track deliverables to better monitor and control spend while maximizing effectiveness. However, while operations are top of mind for marketers, workflow management and the application of process and workflow management are still distant goals.
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing strategies in the midst of a constantly evolving marketplace requires marketers to re-evaluate their efforts and the needs of their audiences. However, many are not implementing closed-loop systems to monitor acquisition effectiveness, and few are actually gathering and better utilizing Web metrics and performance measures. Interestingly, and perhaps in the spirit of increased product launches as mentioned earlier, survey respondents plan to conduct less testing on new campaigns, even though they expect more frequent product launches.
In the effort to achieve organizational transformation, survey respondents showed a strong preference for several specific projects, including a strong “welcome back” to marketing performance measurement. While in vogue before the economic crash, MPM dashboards that reach across both online and offline measurements are back on the list of transformational projects. And as marketers continue to search for ways to perfect their digital marketing makeovers, 37 percent will look to fully synthesize social media channels into their integrated approaches.
The Changing Role Of The CMO
The sheer breadth of domain required by marketing leaders is staggering, spanning pricing and purchasing to branding and business development. However, for those naysayers who still flaunt the short-tenure headlines, it might be time to retire the banner. Almost three-fourths (70 percent) of respondents do not think their jobs are at risk, so it looks as though CMOs are finally looking to put down some roots and stay awhile.
However, with more explicit mandates from senior management for marketing organizations to drive top-line growth and expand market share, CMOs can no longer focus solely on brand communication. As the expectations evolve, marketing must fill the pipeline with better prospects, optimize customer value, and assume accountability for demand generation and market differentiation.
Consequently, marketers’ success will be increasingly judged by their ability to deliver tangible financial return, clear marketing ROI, predictive performance models, and improved spend allocation and strategy. These expanded expectations require new competencies from marketing leaders in business analytics, database management, digital marketing, and strategic planning. Although many marketing departments might fall short in these areas today, adding marketers with strong management experience and digital skills can begin to bridge that talent gap. Therefore, candidates with more business and digitally oriented backgrounds should be emphasized and sought after.
While survey results clearly demonstrate that, at this point, professional development revolves around customer knowledge and intimacy, many CMOs are looking to get smarter about some of the emerging technologies and tools dominating headlines, such as social media and mobile. With so many responsibilities and expectations falling under the umbrella of marketing leadership, the most successful CMOs could, perhaps, be the executives with the widest breadth of expertise because they will be best-equipped to manage the full spectrum of marketing challenges.
Today, marketing leaders claim renewed commitment to strategic, integrated thinking and a newfound interest in analytical, metrics-based campaigns. This mission should be celebrated. Although challenges certainly lay ahead, the industrywide focus on driving business forward by positively impacting the bottom line suggests marketing’s propensity toward “random acts of marketing” could be a thing of the past--and that the CMO’s future extends for as long as he or she chooses to remain in that position of influence and leadership.