Marketing’s Role Continues to Evolve, But Many Are Still Not Changing

By December 12, 2014Marketing Tips

The Life of the Marketer in 2010

In 2010, I spoke with over 150 CMOs and heads of marketing. For many, it was not a fun time to be in that role. They were all feeling some degree of pressure in these four areas:

1. Due to budget cuts and decreasing staff they felt they were more reactive than proactive when it came to marketing.

2. They often felt like an outsider with no “seat at the table.” They felt that their CEOs saw them more as necessary evil than a true contributor to the future success of their organization.

3. They felt significant tension with sales and did not consider themselves aligned with each other at all.

4. Most were not measuring results of their marketing efforts and/or they were unable to see into the sales pipeline to allow them to show ROI.

Over 90% of the CMOs I spoke to said they would have classified this as a difficult time for heads of marketing. They were frustrated and fearful that their days were numbered, as the average tenure was 26 months so that felt very real to them.

So fast forward four years and what am I seeing? Things are definitely improving but surprisingly most of the five struggles are still dilemmas for heads of marketing today.

Today Things are Looking Up…Slightly

  • Most Marketing and Sales Teams Are STILL Not Aligned

Where we have seen success in breaking down these silos is when marketing is willing to lead the way to begin doing things dramatically different than they have done in the past. But we are reaching a point where we need someone within a company to champion this (because it is not happening in the way it needs to at all — not even close.) A recent study by Forrester Research found only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. That means that 92% of organizations still have a marketing and sales alignment problem. How can that be? We have all been talking about this for what feels like forever (well at least 4 years and that is practically forever in the world of marketing)! Enough already—really—I am serious. Whoever is reading this blog—marketing, CEO, sales, intern who wants to make a major impact—if your company is one of the 92%, make this your #1 New Year’s resolution to not be what the Aberdeen Group calls a laggard. According to a study they did, highly aligned marketing and sales organizations achieved an average of 32% year over year revenue growth, while their less-aligned competitors (laggards) saw a 7% decrease in revenue.

If your sales and marketing teams are not aligned (working toward the same goals, understanding each other’s roles to drive revenue) your organization is missing out on the opportunity to increase revenue. Enough said.

  • Many Marketers Say They’re Still Reactionary

Four years later, we still feel the impact of 2008 where budgets were cut and teams were downsized. Despite these challenges, marketing need to find ways to allow themselves and their teams to breathe and move from the reactionary hamster wheel to provide “air time” to think, be creative and innovative. To truly have strategic impact, there needs to be space to allow creative and strategic thinking to take place.  Without this, marketing teams will be seen as implementers and not strategic, creative and innovative thinkers that can drive an increase in revenue and have a seat at the leadership table. The companies that we have worked with that are doing this well actually schedule time in their calendars and hold those times as sacred knowing that the overall team will be better for it. Not only does their marketing get better, they have found that people enjoy their work more as well. Let’s face it—those of us in marketing didn’t dream of having our days filled with putting fires out day in and day out. We got into marketing to be smart, creative and innovative thinkers. So we need to honor that time and allow our teams the space to think. Forrester found 78% of CMOs are saying that marketing’s influence on corporate strategy is greater today, and that company and business unit leaders are seeking out marketing like never before for data and their insights to strategize and set objectives. This is an improvement over 2010 and will only continue if marketing is able to step off the hamster wheel from time to time.


  • Measuring ROI is Still Elusive for Most

The challenge of showing marketing’s ROI is still hounding CMOs and is still a top key concern for them this year. A CMO survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business showed that only 37% of CMOs reported that they’re able to prove the short-term impact of marketing spending quantitatively, while 44% have a good qualitative sense, but not a quantitative one. On a positive note, they appear to be getting slightly more confident in their ability to measure the long-term impact of their efforts. CEOs are more concerned than ever about driving down costs and increasing revenue. As Forrester found out, those who connect marketing activity to business results are gaining a seat at the leadership roundtable, which is a key improvement we saw CMOs seeking in 2010.

The Time is Now

So while I do see some movement in the right direction, the changes in marketing are moving fast and the choice to evolve or not is really no longer an option. Innovative companies with aggressive growth goals will need a marketing leader who is a change agent and knows how to evolve.

Wonder how you are doing evolving? Review the Forrester tables to see where your role falls.