3 Things CEOs Should Expect From Marketing In 2018

Gartner found that marketing budgets have decreased, down from their peak in 2016 at 12.1% of company revenue. Now they’re around 11.3% of revenue – and this drop is a leading indicator of a few changes happening in the marketing industry.

To stay sharp, compete and win in 2018, here are 3 key trends every CEO should be apprised of regarding their marketing organization.

1. A marketing back office renaissance. That drop in marketing budgets is largely due in part, according to Gartner, to marketing leadership being too distracted by tactics and execution.

For that reason, we predict a renaissance of the back office – meaning a greater focus and investment on the strategic arm of the marketing organization (basically everything that is happening behind the scenes within marketing.)

Much effort (and money) has been put into tools and tech that manages customer-facing execution, but there is a gap from those tools to the ones that connect planning, budgeting and measurement. This is the brains of the marketing organization – and those companies that are still using spreadsheets, slide decks and borrowed technologies from finance and sales will find their ability to execute limited.

“in 2018, CMOs must invest far more attention and resources to marketing processes behind the scenes, and think more like P&L owners.”

This renaissance will be driven not only by the necessity of having less money to work with, but also by the increasingly shortened tenures of CMOs (which has been found to be the shortest among any in the C-Suite.)

Given this pressure, CMOs in 2018 must invest far more attention and resources to marketing processes behind the scenes, and think more like P&L owners.

2. Alliance between the CMO and CFO. As budgets are tightened, marketing teams that succeed in 2018 will build a closer relationship between Marketing and Finance.

Research found companies that anticipate larger budgets and increases in revenues are 3 times more likely to align the CMO and CFO.

This is because the CFO is holding the CMO to a very high standard. Marketers who act as true stewards of the company’s dollars, demonstrating accuracy, impact and transparency in their actions, will earn the trust of a CFO and the rest of the C-Suite (and this is badly needed). Many enterprise organizations are exhibiting a renewed focus on better managing their budgets to optimize the impact of every dollar spent. Those that haven’t figured out this critical relationship will need to do so in 2018, or likely be shown the door.

3. A new Chief of Staff to the CMO, Marketing Operations. These trends, along with the newfound pressure for marketing to run more like a business, have created a new VIP on the marketing team; Marketing Operations. For many organizations, MOPs has emerged as the most capable resource to step in and help the CMO in their quest, especially with responsibilities related to data cleanliness, marketing resource management, and marketing performance management.

Because of its ability to align strategies to goals and ensure activities run as planned, marketing operations has become a critical part of leading Marketing organizations. As Amanda Jensen, practice director of learning at SiriusDecisions, says, “You can’t afford to run a marketing organization that doesn’t have a strong skill set in measurement, automation, process, reporting, budgeting, planning, data management and analysis.

Every CMO today must be in total control of their organization and its results – and Marketing Operations is the key player in reaching that vision.

Looking ahead
Overall, these trends indicate a larger shift in the marketing space toward becoming a department laser-focused on business impact, smart spending, stewardship over investments and visibility into results. Today’s marketing leader is accountable, ready to move quickly with speed and agility, and confident in where they spend each dollar.

2018 will reveal who can keep up with this new world, and who will be left behind.

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