"Too many [marketing executives] are focused on branding and communications, and that's what they think marketing is," Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer's Council, tells Marketing Daily. The CMO Council--in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group--recently completed a survey of 1,000 senior marketing executives, and found that many of them were ignoring the tangible aspects of the discipline, particularly those requiring tactical analysis.
"Marketing [now] is heavy-lifting work. It's like laying a foundation," Neale-May says. "They want to build a house without laying the foundation, and too often they wind up getting swept away."
According to the council's survey of 1,000 senior marketing executives, only 6% of respondents said their "go to market" capabilities--defined as the process of developing strategic and tactical aspects of bringing a product or service to market--were "very good." Only another 27% said their capabilities were "quite effective."
Despite their acknowledged deficiencies, the majority of executives are unwilling to stray outside of their comfort zone. Two-thirds of the respondents said they remained focused on traditional marketing capabilities such as branding and promotional communications. Only 26% said improving their consumer insights was a priority, while only 16% cited distributor insights. Retail and point-of-service execution ranked even lower than that at 14%.
"It's a thing where marketers tend to focus on the same-old, same-old," Neale-May says. "While effective sales and marketing and sales strategies should be derived from proven techniques and processes, they must also encompass innovative new approaches, [which is] something not many companies are currently doing."
Many marketing executives recognized a need for better strategies and training, with 52% saying they were modifying selling and marketing strategies to improve their capabilities, and 32% said they were trying to hire new talent. However, the new programs and training have not become a fiscal priority, with 58% of respondents saying new programs would have to be financed through existing budgets.
Perhaps accordingly, implementing new programs is difficult. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had begun less than three high-profile initiatives to improve these areas in the past five years, and only 6% said they had started six or more. Not surprisingly, nearly half (48%) of the marketing executives cited insufficient resources as a barrier to implementing successful programs. Nearly as many (48%) also cited talent issues, while 35% said there was a gap between current and desired capabilities.
In the near term, many executives said their future focus would be on talent management and performance (56%), while 52% said they would focus on business strategy. Investment in new metrics and monitors and technology and IT fell much lower on the scale, with only 14% and 12% saying they would be future foci.
By and large, marketers are still rating program effectiveness based on revenue growth. Eighty-five percent said they used revenue growth as the biggest gauge for sales and marketing success. While 53% said they also used customer acquisition and retention as measures, other areas such as productivity or yield measurement and channel development, were much lower at 20% and 10%, respectively.
Despite the obvious need for improvement in certain areas, there were some companies marketers felt had put together working go-to-market processes. Not surprisingly, Apple Inc. was respected by 19% of marketers for its innovation and consistency. Ten percent cited Microsoft, while 8% recognized Procter & Gamble.