Research on How Organizations Evaluate Marketing Leadership (and Why it Matters)
Today’s marketing leaders have a lot on their plates. Their roles span departments and often serve as the glue that holds different organizational functions together—from sales to research and development. But all those responsibilities have consequences. According to a study about CMO tenure, leaders in those roles only stay for an average of 40 months—a historical low. CEOs typically stay in their roles for double that length of time.
We also uncovered insights into the many roles marketing leaders play in our recent research study—60 percent say they’re directly responsible for contacting sales prospects. While we saw this trend across different business marketer segments from our survey, Accomplished Marketers are most likely to say their in-house marketing team has sales responsibilities.
After conducting the research, three distinct types of marketers emerged.
#1: Accomplished Marketers
These respondents feel their organizations get marketing right. They report high marketing sophistication and rely on in-house expertise to achieve better outcomes.
#2: Anxious Strugglers
This group makes up the largest segment of our survey respondents. These business marketers believe impactful marketing has to start with strategy. They have big ideas, and they believe multi-channel approaches to marketing will garner the most success.
#3: Strategy Believers
This business marketer segment lacks confidence in their organization’s marketing. They worry about staff turnover and identifying and acquiring new customers.
The bottom line is that marketing leaders are expected to do a lot. But it comes at a cost. When leaders are spread so thin, it’s hard to have the time and resources to deliver optimal results.
Sometimes there is an overlap between sales and marketing, and sometimes there is a gap. To determine which is occurring at your organization, first define the sales approach and then clearly articulate how marketing can assist in getting qualified leads. If you have an account-based marketing approach and sales is the focus, marketing is what will strengthen the prospect’s journey through the funnel. If marketing’s function is only to generate leads, then you must have a sales infrastructure that can provide insights to the marketing team so that the lead nurturing process remains strong. The most important thing is to not work in silos. Sales and marketing departments should work together hand in hand.
Our last blog started the conversation about optimizing marketing spend no matter what the budget and marketing leadership evaluation. We’ll dive further into this topic today.
Making the Grade in Marketing Leadership Evaluation
Recent marketing research shows that measuring content marketing performance is a challenge for today’s marketers with a lack of budget and resources (46 percent) and determining ROI (44 percent) being the top two barriers. Most people in marketing would agree that you’re expected to do a lot with a little and that measuring marketing ROI is notoriously difficult yet organizations continue to measure marketing leaders on both these parameters in addition to customer relationship milestones. Check out these interesting findings from our survey:
- 63 percent of respondents say their organizations evaluate them based on the revenue generated by new customers
- 59 percent are measured by the number of new customers they acquire
- 53 percent say their organizations need a specific return on investment from marketing spend
- 31 percent say they’re evaluated based on the degree of spending below budget
It’s clear that marketing leaders are expected to operate within the constraints of what they perceive as a lack of budget and resources. Our research found that these pressure points exist across attitudinal segments.
Anxious Strugglers are significantly less likely than the other two segments to be evaluated on any of the above parameters. But each segment says they’re being evaluated in many ways.
Marketing success also depends on outside factors. There are great ways to evaluate a program’s success and performance, including testing and scaling. As we continue to deal with the challenges of the economic downturn, the question is how do we shift our approach and focus on key accounts and low hanging fruit rather than long-term marketing lead generation? At Avocet, one of our sayings is that if we can’t measure it, it didn’t happen. Focusing on the now, the tangible and the immediate results that have impact is key.
Improving Performance for Marketing Leadership Evaluation
When we zoom out and look at our survey data holistically, we can see that marketing leaders have to operate within budgets that don’t allow for much wiggle room to execute great ideas. They know what needs to happen, but they don’t always have the resources to do it. In addition, they may not have the marketing expertise within their in-house teams to do the work. To compound these challenges, marketing leadership evaluation is based on benchmarks that are difficult to measure and difficult to reach.
Ultimately, marketing leadership needs to make the most out of the budget that’s at their disposal. However, that doesn’t mean opting for initiatives unlikely to work, cutting initiatives that would make an impact, or reaching for expertise that isn’t yet there.
Marketing budgets should be based on past, current, and future goals; KPIs; and objectives and key results (OKRs). Take a look at past successes and decide how to capitalize on them. Look at what’s going on in the current marketing landscape and strategize on how you can benefit from current trends. From there, tie that data, knowledge, and experience into defining your sales goals. All too often people under budget marketing because they budget to meet last year’s sales goals. Ask yourself if your team can achieve faster growth by budgeting to goal versus last year’s revenue.
Marketing budgets hover around 9.5 percent and vary based on what type of company you are or whether a new product launch is involved. Creating efficiency between outsourcing and insourcing solutions is a key component to marketing success today. Ask yourself where your internal team’s shortcomings are and how you can fill the gap with an outside resource such as an agency or boutique firm. An outside perspective is always valuable to an internal team.
Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll talk about the dynamics of our respondents’ in-house marketing teams.
To learn more about each segments’ behaviors and the opportunities they present, check out our entire executive summary and webinar. And to further ignite your own marketing strategy, check out our podcast.