Marketing chiefs need to get their hands “deeper in the business” if they want to meet their mission to build an organization, not just push out branding messages, according to a new report by the CMO Council, in partnership with Deloitte.
Yet, the report, “The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift,” found a disconnect between increasing demands on marketing to help build revenue in measurable ways and the skills and tools on hand.
“What everybody says and what they do is very different,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, in an interview with CMO.com. Some CMOs have the mandate—but not the ability or the budgets--to deliver on that mandate.
The global survey of CMOs revealed organizations view CMOs as the growth driver and revenue architect; similarly, CMOs believe they have that mandate and will be evaluated on business performance, Neale-May said. About 70% percent of more than 200 top marketers pointed to either a clear mandate or “high level of expectation” among their companies’ C-level managers that marketing should be a growth driver and creator of business value in their organizations.
However, the survey also found marketers felt they are not getting the access to critical areas or the tools to make an impact in the business. Only 8% said they work on finding new ways to re-engage with lost or dormant sales accounts, and the same low percentage said they are auditing and continually improving the customer experience. Even fewer, 7%, said they look for strategic partnerships, alliances, and acquisitions to help drive growth.
“There’s been a lot of lip service to this notion that CMOs are supposed to drive revenue. ... What we find is they’re not anywhere where they should be,” Neale-May said. Marketers want to be involved in strategic areas that can influence revenue, such as product development, sales acceleration, and strategy, but their tenures are still determined by their ability to make the short-term numbers, he explained.
The survey supports the view that marketers need to align better with areas such as sales, product development, customer service, and strategy within their companies. But marketers remain stuck in branding mode, Neale-May said.
Of note, some progress has been made, according to the survey, which found the metrics that marketers are evaluated on are evolving to focus less on areas such as awareness and affinity and more on business-related metrics. More than 73% of the survey participants said they now follow revenue growth; 45% mentioned sales metrics, such as conversion rates; and 43% said market share gains. Less than a quarter cited brand performance benchmarking.
The next year will bring on the advent of what Neale-May called “rev-tech”—big data-driven analytics platforms that look at all facets of the business and find ways to monetize or improve value from different areas of spending, such as data from social media, transactions, and service and support, as opposed to the existing marketing technology that has typically used automation to drive campaign effectiveness and other CRM-related tasks. Those ad-tech applications will be replaced by a new generation of programs focused on revenue and where to realize better margins and lift, Neale-May said.
“Marketing is in varied degrees of readiness of preparedness to take on this role. Their brand is always the default comfort zone for marketers, and they always go back there,” he said. “They don’t get down in the weeds. They don’t deal with the data as well as they should by a long shot, and they don’t get in deeply into the customer and understanding ways to create more customer value. More roots-to-revenue is going to be focus of more planning and strategy for CMOs.”
But this will only happen if they work in organizations where they have the remit to do this; they can’t be “CMOs with the title but no territory,” Neale-May said. They will need closer alignment with CFOs and line-of-business leaders who may not be looking to marketing to impact their P&L statements. Rather than rush off an ad agency review, a new CMO’s first 100 days should be spent looking at areas where revenue is lagging and marketing could help, he said.
“The fundamental shift in 2017 is getting CMOs to walk the talk,” Neale-May said. “It’s easy to say, ‘We contribute to revenue.’ ... But let’s get down to how you’re impacting.”
CMOs need to make a massive change in how they work, while companies must rethink the kinds of CMOs they bring in. “It’s not somebody who knows how to spend money. It’s somebody who knows how to make money,” data-adept and technology-oriented, rather than a practitioner with agency and media buying-background, Neale-May said.
“CMOs have to get their hands deeper in to the business,” he added. “Their fingerprints have go on a lot more than things that relate to revenue than just the brand.”