CMOs, It’s 2017: Time to Stop Making Excuses

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The year is 2017. We have self-driving cars, virtual reality headsets, and a world of information and entertainment in our pockets. With the push of a button you can have a personal driver arrive at your location and ferry you around town, or have any of millions of products delivered to your door in days–if not hours.

The future is here. It’s time to act like it.

Over the past couple of years many of you have gone through digital transformations, overhauled your marketing department, or audited your entire strategy and staff from top to bottom. This is the year it all needs to come together and drive results.

I spoke to a CEO last week who called this the year of “Put Up or Shut Up.”  And I assure you she is not the only senior exec feeling that way.  As many as 30% of CMOs could get fired by their CEOs this year, according to a report by Forrester. That’s a staggering number, and one that should concern any marketing lead.

The patience of CEOs as it relates to marketing is at a serious low heading into 2017. In order to survive this year of “Put Up or Shut Up,” CMOs must be ready to show demonstrable, ROI-based results–not empty promises.

Those that can’t likely won’t make it to 2018.

Your business needs and deserves the best at the top of the marketing org chart. Make sure you’re the right person for that position so you don’t get replaced by a Chief Marketing Officer executive search.

No More Excuses. Here’s Why

Marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade, and the rate of that evolution is only increasing. New technology, strategies, and consumer trends are constantly emerging that disrupt even the best-laid marketing plans.

So it’s understandable that you’ve needed time and resources to adjust to this new landscape.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“We need to undergo a structural transformation.”

“We need a larger budget to experiment with new media.”

“We need more headcount for new roles.”

“We need new technology, new third-party partnerships, new internal business structures.”  

“Next year we’ll hit our target.”

Perhaps you’ve said one yourself, or have had a direct report come to you with one of them. The list of reasons why marketing isn’t performing right now goes on and on.

By and large, Chief Marketers have been granted requests for patience and flexibility in recent years–at least as much as any other C-level leaders. Consider:

In the eyes of senior leadership, marketing has been given everything you need to be successful. They’re coming to realize that if they haven’t started seeing the ROI yet, it might be time for a change.

Why CMOs are Struggling

There are any number of reasons why a senior marketing leader might be falling short of expectations.

Sometimes a key component of your marketing operation is failing, and dragging the rest of the department along with it. One of your VPs isn’t keeping up with the latest trends, or can’t keep their team motivated. If that’s the case, it may be time to introduce some new leadership to that area.

Maybe you’ve done everything right to get the marketing department running smoothly, but the rest of the organization isn’t keeping up.

It may even be the case that the marketing department is actually doing quite well. Your revenue is growing and profits are up, all thanks to your strategy and leadership. But if your analytics team doesn’t have the tracking and attribution capabilities to prove it, you can’t make a case for yourself. In today’s marketing, tracking and demonstrating ROI is almost as important as generating it.

Step Up or Get out of The Way

Businesses have generally been patient and marketing has changed to the evolving world around it.  All things ebb and flow, we are leaving the time of patience and entering what have you done for me lately phase.

Make 2017 the year that you prove beyond a doubt that the time and resources committed your way were worth it. It’s not too late to make adjustments to your team, bring in a key new VP or Director, or reinforce your analytics systems with better talent.

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