Accenture’s latest CMO Insights Report (pdf link) is an interesting read for anyone focused on the evolution of marketing strategies and practices. 37% of the 400+ respondents were B2C companies, 37% B2B2C and 26% B2B meaning we can take a certain level of confidence in what the results are telling us about the B2C space we are so passionate about.
In an industry synonymous with fast and furious innovation, it’s not surprising that CMOs feel less prepared to meet their marketing objectives in terms of people, tools and resources than they did in 2011. However, the need for growth and efficiency is now deemed more important than the need to cut costs according to the report which will be music to any cash-strapped marketer’s ears. This is a strong marker in our view that the challenges, opportunities and commercial realities of the marketing department are being better understood and supported than they might have been previously. Considering that the report also tells us that attracting and retaining customers to increase sales is getting more difficult, marketers are going to need the support of the rest of the business to continue to deliver.
Looking at how CMOs are going to address these challenges, new strategies deemed important to the respondents include synchronising the customer experience from marketing to sales to service, ensuring agility and relevance, along with incorporating real-time impacts brought about by data and technology. We know from experience that the value of real-time marketing cannot be underestimated. At its simplest, in this fast-moving digital universe, consumers expect any appetite to be satisfied immediately, and may well go elsewhere if a brand cannot or will not deliver according to their schedule. Another strategy that will continue to drive growth in the CMO’s marketing programmes is through closing the gaps between different channels. Consumers are driving the evolution of a more seamless marketing experience across both online and offline media and marketers obviously understand the need to keep up.
One of the most interesting areas of the report for us was the insights into the marketing ecosystem that exists around CMOs and client-side marketing programmes. 45-75% of activities were found to be managed by either digital agencies, marketing service providers or specialised agencies. Outside suppliers and partners can bring in a wealth of specialist skills and knowledge as well as being an additional resource that can be bolted-on whenever required so this makes a lot of sense. Working with partners comes with its own set of challenges though – such as execution and delivery – which the report found to be weakest in the minds of 64% of CMOs queried. The distance at which the ecosystem has to operate is likely to be partly responsible for this, but at the same time it is important that all companies working with end brands really dig in and understand the realities according to their clients. We work both with client-side marketers and their agency suppliers and know that each type has different needs and challenges on top of the unique facets of each individual brand.
Regardless of current digital challenges, CMOs are clear that digital is the future. 66% will allocate over 25% of their budgets to digital this year, with a particular focus on customer experience, data and analytics. There is also going to be rampant change ahead for all marketers, but especially those focused on B2C as we are. 71% of CMOs in the B2C space believe there will be fundamental changes in the next 5 years in areas including the marketing operating model, the development of internal skills, aligning with the right partners and driving digital throughout their organisations. As we face these changes together as an industry those that can work together, understand each other’s perspectives and provide real solutions to marketing’s growth trajectory and associated challenges will be the ones that prosper in this exciting new world.
Take a look at the report linked above, or the infographic that sums up the findings superbly, and let us know in the comments section how this stacks up with your experiences.