Marketers’ influence soars – thanks to Covid and data

data_driven2Covid-19 might have been responsible for the loss of an estimated 40,000 marketing jobs in the UK, with vacancies flatlining, but rather than being sidelined, marketers’ influence is growing and they are also increasingly involved in corporate strategy – thanks in no small part to their role as guardians of customer data.

So says a new study carried out by M&C Saatchi-owned global growth consulting business Clear, which quizzed more than 700 chief executives and chief marketing officers across the UK, the US, Germany, Singapore and China.

From Chaos to Clarity reveals the increased power of CMOs and their teams in boardrooms worldwide, following the chaos brought on by global pandemic. It shows that 51% of respondents (and even 59% of CEOs) say that marketing’s influence is growing inside their organisation; only 5% of respondents say it is decreasing.

And, when asked about internal perceptions of marketing, CEOs believe marketers, above all, are seen as “strategic growth drivers” and “owners of the data”.

There is still a way to go to trump the accountants, however, with 89% of CMOs reporting that finance is the most influential function, and has “a lot of control and input” in shaping business objectives.

Even so, there is a sense of confidence within marketing departments and an increase in overall alignment between marketing and business strategy. Some 72% of respondents and 83% of CMOs report that their business objectives are translated into clear objectives for marketing. CMOs also insist they and their teams have the right capabilities to deliver against their KPIs.

In fact, 95% of CMOs are personally confident in their ability to deliver and a whopping 99% are confident in their team’s ability to do the same.

But – and this is a big but – the report claims that the coronavirus chaos is also undermining growth, and, in particular fuelling the rise of short-termism.

The CEOs surveyed want more focus on innovation, and the fundamental data infrastructure that underpins long term growth.

However, in a crisis, they also saddle marketing with increasingly short-term goals. This disconnect reinforces short-term behaviour, leads marketers to focus on the now and reduces clarity around longer-term objectives.

Then there is the talent gap. The report says that the industry has predicted the death of the CMO for more than decade – and it shows in the data.

Less than 20% of senior marketers actually want to be CMOs. The skills gaps and talent gaps are growing. Modern marketing roles are increasingly complex (and chaotic). In concert with that, the profession has been beaten up and misrepresented to the point that talent often looks elsewhere.

Damian Symons, global chief executive at Clear, commented: “If chaos is the villain of the moment, clarity is the antidote. As COVID moves from a pandemic to being endemic, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that chaos will go away. It won’t. There’s too much change and too much complexity happening on too many levels. That’s why we created this study – to develop an invaluable set of modern, and adaptable growth models designed to help senior leaders lead their organisation through complexity and change.

“It’s also heartening to confirm that while marketing is stretched to the limits in terms of capacity and capability, CEOs see it as a critical and central part of the solution. In many ways, this could just be the moment for marketing to step up and lead the organisation from chaos to clarity.”

In response to the findings, Clear has outlined how to help leaders deliver tangible strategy and action plans to harness and drive growth. It claims the clear frameworks show CEOs and CMOs where to prioritise, helping to rank external and internal forces against the time taken to effect change.

Clear insists that bringing order to this chaos enables teams to harness the opportunities by grouping them into short-term quick wins, medium-term strategic moves and long-term transformative bets.

The full report is available to download from the Clear website>

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