2 in 3 CMOs Feeling Pressure From the Board to Prove Marketing’s Value

DukeCMOSurvey-Pressure-CMOs-Prove-Value-of-Marketing-Aug2013This may be “the year of the marketer,” but with added responsibilities come added pressures. The latest biannual CMO Survey [pdf] from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business finds that CMOs are not immune: according to the study, 66.4% said they feel pressure from their CEO or Board to prove the value of marketing. What’s more, 6 in 10 of those said that their leaders are turning up the heat, with just 2% reporting decreasing demands to prove their worth.

CMOs are being asked to prove their value at a time when the intensity of competition is ratcheting up a notch. Respondents indicated that the rivalry for customers is likely to become more intense in the next 12 months (5.5 on a 7-point scale, where 7 represents very likely), with competitor price-cutting also increasing (scoring 5 on the scale). Moreover, compared to surveys from prior years, CMOs are more likely to be anticipating the emergence of new domestic and global competitors.

CMOs are also feeling increasing pressure while seeing budgets dip: they expect marketing spending to grow by 4.3% over the next 12 months, a fairly marked step down from the February survey’s 6.1% growth forecast. Currently, marketing budgets are reported to account for an average of 9.4% of firm budgets, down from 10.6% in February.

CMOs claimed year-over-year increases in brand metrics such as customer acquisition (3.4%), customer retention (2%) and brand value (3.1%). But while they’re generally pleased with their company’s marketing excellence, their confidence has also dipped relative to the previous survey. In this latest installment, 53.3% rated their company’s marketing excellence as “strong” or higher (top-3 box score on a 7-point scale), down from 57.8% in the February survey.

Still, CMOs’ performance appears to be holding steady. Respondents reported that marketing ROI increased by 3.1% over the past 12 months, a figure consistent with results from August 2012 (3.2%) and 2011 (3%). And they continue to harbor lofty expectations, with a goal of 5% growth in marketing ROI in the next 12 months. (It’s worth noting that their goals have dipped from a 5.5% objective in the last survey released in February.)

CMOs are likely hoping that if they hit those goals, pressure from the Board will ease somewhat.

See here for marketers’ main problems calculating ROI, and the toughest questions they face on the job.

About the Data: The CMO Survey is conducted online twice a year. The latest survey was fielded from July 16 to August 6, 2013. The survey had 410 respondents, of whom 93% were VP level or above.