After several disappointing years, chief marketing officers (CMOs) are finally seeing marked improvement within the industry.
The global marketing economy is robust and picking up pace, according to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s eighth annual State of Marketing report. CMOs are also confident that they can meet management’s top-line revenue growth, as well as market share goals for the coming year.
Some 81 percent of the 525 global marketers surveyed in the study reported that they believe management mandates are "realistic and attainable" for the year, while a much smaller 26 percent believe that this may only be halfway achievable.
Another 55 percent of CMOs plan headcount additions in 2014, as opposed to just 22 percent who plan reductions. And 54 percent of CMOs expect budget increases, with only 10 percent believing that their jobs may be at risk.
According to Liz Miller, vice president of programs and operations at the CMO Council, 2010 and 2011 were "grim years" in marketing, while 2012 and 2013 were flat in terms of both growth and share. However 2014 is the first year that "flat stopped being up," she notes.
A large part of the rekindled sense of optimism, specifically looking at the rise in headcount, is in part thanks to a new sense of urgency regarding marketing, says Miller. Investment in social content and mobile marketing is more crucial in 2014 than ever before, and CMOs are spearheading efforts for better targeting and a more personalized approach to customer engagement.
The need to create harmony between campaigns to meet customer demand for better engagement is also pushing C-suite executives to form more interactive connections with CMOs. This year, 69 percent of CMOs say that they are trusted members of the C-suite and believe that the concept of the chief marketing officer in general is increasing in stature and credibility with key business leaders.
Miller believes that the change is partially due to a new generation of CMOs who are "speaking, measuring, and reporting in the language of business." More than ever before, CMOs should be "operational gurus who optimize engagement and view procurement as a partner rather than an adversary."
This new breed of more business-savvy CMOs has resulted in a better dialogue between members of the C-suite. However, the results of the survey also suggest that there is still more work to be done, since only 30 percent of survey participants see themselves as equal to the other members of the C-suite in terms of recognition and influence, while 45 percent believe that is only sometimes the case.
Overall, the report suggests that 2014 marks a positive change in the industry across the board, from CMO status to budgetary influence and job security, a change Miller believes is only the beginning of a new age of marketing that is more client-focused and tech savvy than ever before.
Emily Alford is a freelance reporter for ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Yahoo, and The Daily Meal. She has a PhD in English from Florida State University.
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