Study finds disconnect between CMOs, C-Suite over marketing priorities

CMOs feel constrained because others fail to view marketing as strategic

A new global study uncovers a lack of consensus in many organizations between chief marketing officers (CMOs) and the rest of the C-suite over the value marketing provides to the company. The Economist Intelligence Unit report, Outside Looking In: The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-Suite, was sponsored by business analytics software vendor SAS, a leader in customer analytics.

According to the survey, nonmarketing executives – CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and other functional heads and board members – prioritize driving revenue over acquiring new customers (30 percent to 19 percent). For CMOs, however, marketing priorities are new products/services creation and customer acquisition; driving revenue ranks third.

This is not the only disconnect. CMOs and other C-suite executives also disagree on what metrics best track return on marketing investment, whether the company clearly understands customer tastes and needs, who represents the voice of the customer within the organization, and which channel is most effective for customer engagement. These fundamental differences may explain why an alarming one-fifth of CMOs say they are only consulted on marketing strategy, but don't take the lead (3 percent report playing no role at all).

The findings illustrate a dilemma. While 28 percent of CMOs blame their inability to deliver more value on a lack of senior management support for marketing investments, only 17 percent of other C-suite executives agree.

Half of CMOs say their ability to be more strategic is stymied by a shortage of marketing talent and challenges in clearly demonstrating return on investment (ROI). And nearly half report disagreement over what marketing should be delivering.

These results indicate that CMOs are not convincing C-suite colleagues that marketing significantly contributes business value. CMOs stand a better chance of increasing their internal influence – and changing lingering doubts about marketing's strategic contribution to the business – if marketing can consistently deliver insights and capabilities that benefit others across the organization, including salespeople, call center agents and merchandising teams.

Applying analytics to the wealth of customer, operational and financial data within an organization and using the resulting intelligence to drive business performance will help. With this big data, CMOs tie customer insights to strategic outcomes across all channels and business functions not only have a meaningful effect on customer experience, engagement, loyalty and marketing performance, but can also prove ROI – and thrive.

About SAS

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