Marketing teams scored highly in a rating of 2020 performance, and most senior executives report a close level of collaboration and alignment with the marketing organization in their different areas of responsibility and functional focus. Not surprisingly, management in large and smaller enterprises differ in their views of marketing development needs, operational requirements, role and value in their organizations.
The findings were based on a 2021 survey fielded by the CMO Council in partnership with the C-Suite Network, Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, and a Harvard Business School alumni association. Underwriting for the project came from Chief Outsiders, a leading fractional CMO service provider.
Survey participants (120) included a mix of senior management executives across companies of all sizes, industry sectors and diverse leadership roles. Nearly 40 percent of respondents were in companies of more than $1 billion in annual revenue and an additional 21 percent were drawn from mid-sized companies with revenues of $100 million to $1 billion. The balance of survey takers (39 percent) came from companies with less than $100 million in annual sales.
The Business Leader Scorecard of Marketing reveals:
- Revenue and sales growth is the top deliverable for marketing report 80 percent of survey respondents with customer acquisition and profitability a close second (71%)
- 69 percent of business executives are extremely or moderately confident in marketing’s ability to lead growth recovery in 2021
- 84 percent are closely, regularly, or increasingly interacting with marketing team
- 46 percent rate marketing team performance as very good or exceptional in 2020; a further 45 percent say it was moderate
- Collaboration and alignment between lines of business, functional areas and marketing is viewed as close, balanced, effective and well-integrated by 37 percent of respondents; the same percentage say it is getting better all the time
“Business leaders appear to have more confidence in marketing leadership with 62 percent of survey respondents considering the essential role of the CMO as ‘customer experience advocate and champion’ in their organization,” notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, which has 16,000 members in 10,000 companies worldwide. “The fact that the secondary view of CMOs is ‘digital transformation/marketing automation leader’ is also a real plus give the modernization mandate in a digitally connected world.”
On the other hand, business leaders are looking for marketing to step up in five key areas of performance and value creation. Most notably, marketing needs to strengthen and improve:
- Demand generation and sales pipeline development
- Campaign ideation, execution and impact
- Customer journey, acquisition and conversion
- Marketing planning to support digital growth strategies
- Actioning on customer data insight
When asked about leadership gaps and holes in their marketing organizations, business executives listed the primary areas where they see a need for more skills, proficiency and capability. This includes:
- Modernization of marketing organization, systems and operation
- Proficient, technically savvy managers in key digital roles
- Greater customer knowledge and market understanding
- Adaptive, informed decision making based on good data
- Ability to make a business case for marketing spend
According to Chief Outsiders, a nationwide "Executives-as-a-Service" firm, demand for part-time, or fractional, chief marketing officers has never been higher in large enterprises where immediate resources might be needed triggered by competitive market conditions, diversification, restructuring, acquisition, growth, or a changing digital business model.
“Enterprise organizations are finding our “plug and play” model increasingly appealing,” notes Art Saxby, co-founder and CEO of Chief Outsiders, who points to the time it takes to onboard senior talent and establish credibility in the organization. “More and more large organization are tapping our veterans who are available on-demand with the domain expertise and experience to assume whatever role required for as short or long as they are needed,” he adds.
The C-Suite Scorecard findings attest to his point-of-view. Business executives believe interim or fractional marketing leaders can add value in the top five ways:
- Inject new thinking, ideas and innovations
- Offer objective perspectives and assessments
- Introduce proven methodologies and practices
- Strengthen leadership and depth in senior roles
- Act as change agents and/or pace setters
In addition, research results show distinct variations in responses from business leaders at companies with more than $500M versus those with less than $500M:
- In large enterprises the CMO is overwhelmingly seen as the “customer experience advocate and champion” (82%) in contrast to “brand reputation custodian and value creator” in smaller enterprises (56%)
- There is more extensive management interaction with marketing in companies of $500M or less
- Management is less satisfied with marketing team performance in larger companies
- Marketing organization gaps in large companies are centered on modernization and automation of marketing versus acquiring more technical savvy, digital talent and making better data-driven decisions in smaller companies
- Business leaders in large enterprises are less satisfied with the level of collaboration and alignment with marketing
- There is a higher level of confidence in marketing’s ability to lead growth and recovery in smaller enterprises