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A large majority (86%) of CMOs believe that marketing is now more influential in their organization’s strategic priorities than it was five years ago, a view not shared by quite many non-CMO marketers (68%). This disconnect extends beyond marketing’s role, per a report [download page] from The Economist Group, which found that the priorities and points-of-view of CMOs and others in the C-suite don’t always align.

One area in which there is some alignment, though, relates to marketing’s focus. Almost two-thirds (63%) of CMOs say that marketing’s strategic focus is more often short-term (1-2 years ahead) than mid- or long-term. Non-marketers in the C-suite are largely in agreement: 54% believe that marketing’s strategic focus is short-term. It is true, though, that more non-marketers than marketers in the C-suite see the strategic focus of marketing to be longer-term (10% and 3%, respectively).

Here are some areas where CMOs and their partners in the C-suite have differing views:

Strategic Priorities

One thing the CMOs and the rest of the C-suite appear to agree on is that marketing’s top strategic priority is business growth and producing revenue. In the US, CMOs not only consider driving growth as a top priority, but they also cite it as their number 1 challenge.

Although the C-suite is in agreement about driving growth and revenue, they part ways when it comes to the importance of other priorities. CMOs see brand reputation and positioning as their second-most important priority while others in the C-suite feel they should be prioritizing customer experience and engagement, ranked 4th on CMOs’ list.

This disconnect may be due to ongoing confusion over who really owns the customer experience. While past research has shown that marketing is responsible for customer experience, a more recent survey by Deloitte found that it may very well be the sales team responsible for it.

Brand awareness is also a key strategic priority for CMOs, yet it doesn’t make the top 5 for others in the C-suite. On the flip side, non-marketers in the C-suite feel that product and service innovation is a key strategic priority for marketing, but this does not rank in the top 5 for CMOs.

Barriers to Pursuing Priorities

Even though 88% of CMOs agree that they are confident in their employee’s marketing skillsets, they also say their most significant barrier to pursuing their organization’s current strategic priorities is lack of relevant employee skillset. The lack of employees with relevant skillsets also ranks high (#2) among others in the C-suite, but they see the most significant barrier as being broader business and economic conditions. CMOs mostly ignore this, as it sits toward the bottom of their list of barriers.

One element that CMOs find to be a significant barrier that does not appear on the list of barriers for other C-suite executives is lack of cross-functional collaboration. Separate research from Gartner has found that while CMOs believe some departments such as IT have become supporters of marketing strategy, others, like Finance, are still acting as distractors. Additionally the age-old problem of sales and marketing misalignment persists.

Guidance Comes From the Top

CMOs and the rest of the C-suite agree – logically – that the most guidance for their organization’s overall strategic priorities come from general management or the board of directors. Beyond that, the difference of opinion continues. CMOs ranked Marketing in the next-highest position for strategic direction, while others in the C-suite believe that such guidance comes more from Strategy and Customer Experience.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,800 global executives.

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